11 Common Running Problems—and Their Solutions

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Runners are identified to wax poetic in regards to the elusive runner’s excessive: these uncommon moments of endorphin-fueled euphoria when your legs really feel sturdy, your tempo is swift, and the miles go beneath your ft with minimal effort as you’re taking within the surroundings.

These satisfying, borderline-easy runs encourage us to aim longer distances and chase after new PRs. We lace up time and again, hoping to faucet into that pure sense of movement.

The alternative expertise—the runner’s low, if you’ll—is much less majestic however far more widespread. Should you’ve been operating for any period of time, you’ve doubtless discovered your self within the trenches of a run gone improper.

Resulting from unexpected circumstances (suppose: blisters, cramps, and gastrointestinal points), each step is extra depressing than the final. You inform your self that in the event you one way or the other make it to the end line, you’ll significantly contemplate hanging up your sneakers and by no means operating once more.

The excellent news is that the majority runners persevere and, higher but, discover ways to forestall and handle operating mishaps throughout future exercises and races.

That can assist you get forward of among the commonest points plaguing runners, we requested a handful of coaches to share their recommendation for avoiding such annoyances and, when needed, easy methods to roll with the punches. Maintain their phrases in thoughts the following time you end up trudging by means of your individual operating nightmare.

Friction points

Many issues come up from gear actually rubbing runners the improper manner. Even attire, socks, and sneakers particularly designed for operating could cause issues. However there are some tried and true preventative techniques and mid-run workarounds.

Blisters

“Sadly, by the point you’re feeling a blister approaching, it’s in all probability too late,” says Todd Buckingham, PhD, triathlete and train physiologist at PTSportsPRO in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It’s already fashioned, and the most effective you are able to do is decrease any additional irritation.

Should you’re operating a race, assist stations usually carry anti-chafing cream and adhesive bandages, which you need to use to guard the realm. (Although bandages can typically improve friction, as they add one other layer of fabric, Buckingham warns.) In any other case, cease to examine your socks, as seams and bunched materials are sometimes responsible for blisters.

Subsequent time, ensure your operating socks are manufactured from sweat-wicking materials, and examine the match of your trainers—they might be too tight or too large (sliding forwards and backwards is simply as unhealthy as rubbing and pinching). Should you are likely to get blisters in a single space, strive making use of a little bit of lubricant, like Physique Glide ($11), earlier than heading out. And permit all new sneakers a “breaking in” interval of shorter, low-stakes runs.

Chafing

“There’s a cause folks don’t run in sweatpants and T-shirts anymore,” Buckingham says. Cotton materials, whereas snug for lounging, can entice moisture and create chafing “sizzling spots” in high-friction areas, like your armpits, internal arms, groin, and thighs.

As with blisters, the important thing to stopping pores and skin chafing is to put on correctly becoming operating gear constructed with sweat-wicking material. That mentioned, match and high quality range, and even the most costly specialty gear could cause points. Give each new piece—even sports activities bras and underwear—a brief trial run earlier than carrying it throughout a race or lengthier coaching run.

Chafing mid-run? Once more, when you’ve got entry to provides, a dab of anti-chafing ointment or perhaps a little bit of petroleum jelly can cut back rubbing and supply some reduction.

Black toe nails

Amber Rees, RRCA and VDOT-certified operating coach, co-founder of Courageous Physique Venture and chief teacher at Barry’s NYC, jokes {that a} black toenail is a “runner’s ceremony of passage.” “Though they are often painful and even wreck your socks and cute sneaks,” she says.

Toenails sometimes flip black or bluish in coloration when blood collects beneath the nail. “It normally happens out of your ft sliding inside your shoe, which causes your toes to slam in opposition to the entrance of your sneaker,” Rees says. “This may increasingly imply it is advisable change to a unique sock, strive a unique shoe, or strive the runner’s heel lock.” The heel lock, Rees explains, is a shoe-lacing methodology that secures your ankle in place and retains your foot from shifting forwards and backwards.

Black toenails don’t sometimes seem after one run; you possibly can normally forestall them by listening to emotions of ache or numbness within the toes and troubleshooting earlier than your subsequent exercise.

Additionally, hold your toenails trimmed.

Fueling and hydration snafus

Working requires enough hydration and diet, but consuming meals and liquid earlier than, throughout, or after a run may be tough. A lot can go improper…terribly, terribly improper.

Nausea and vomiting

“Within the early levels of your run, your physique is working time beyond regulation to pump blood to your muscle tissue,” explains Lindsey Clayton, RRCA and VDOT-certified operating coach, co-founder of Courageous Physique Venture and chief teacher at Barry’s NYC. “This decreased blood provide to your digestive tract may lead to [gastrointestinal] misery.”

Meal timing and meals selections usually play a task in exercise-induced digestive points. It could take some experimentation to find out your ideally suited pre-run snack, nevertheless it’s typically a good suggestion to keep away from high-fiber meals and persist with easy-to-digest carbohydrates versus fat and protein. Permit your self at the least an hour between your final chew and your run. And if it is advisable refuel mid-run, easy carbs, like vitality gels and gummies, are sometimes your finest wager. (Simply ensure you take a look at them out earlier than an enormous occasion.)

Should you’re hit with abdomen cramps or nausea throughout a run, typically slowing all the way down to a stroll and focusing in your respiration will help settle queasiness. Vomiting can result in fluid loss, so in the event you do lose your lunch, take a break and sip some water or an electrolyte drink.

Runner’s trots

Like nausea and vomiting, “runner’s trots,” aka diarrhea, is usually triggered by fueling errors, like consuming an excessive amount of fats or fiber or consuming too near your run. Prevention usually comes all the way down to trial and error, as each runner (and their digestive system) is totally different. (A bowl of oatmeal could hold your operating buddy feeling fueled for miles, however it might have you ever operating for the closest bathroom.)

It’s additionally vital to remain constantly hydrated. “You’re already sweating and dropping fluids, and in the event you’re not adequately hydrated, your possibilities for abdomen cramps, nausea, and diarrhea could improve,” Clayton says.

Slowing your tempo or taking a stroll break could alleviate a sudden urge to poop, however typically it is smart to hit up the closest lavatory or porta-potty (or wooded space, in the event you’re in a distant space), even when it provides a couple of minutes to your time. “I’d argue that not stopping will value you extra time since you’ll be strolling or not operating as quick since you’re making an attempt to cope with it,” Buckingham says.

Dehydration

The important thing to staying hydrated throughout a run is to play the lengthy sport. It’s not sufficient to drink fluids proper earlier than, throughout, and after a run, explains Raj Hathiramani, licensed operating coach with Mile Excessive Run Membership in New York Metropolis. “A very powerful ritual is to hydrate as early as 48 hours earlier than a tough coaching run or race,” he says. “[Consume] water plus electrolytes to stop dehydration, cramping, and heat-related circumstances.”

Simply how a lot water you want will depend on numerous components, like your physique weight, your degree of bodily exercise, the salt content material of your sweat, and the local weather. One simple strategy to monitor your hydration degree is to concentrate to the colour of your urine. It ought to be mild yellow, like lemonade. Something darker or noticeably smelly is your cue to extend fluid consumption.

Should you expertise indicators of dehydration on a run—thirst, fatigue, headache, and an elevated coronary heart charge are widespread—search water or a sports activities drink that comprises electrolytes. “If you do not have entry to water and electrolytes, modify your effort to a slower tempo or stroll and attempt to procure fluids in the event you intend to maintain up your exercise,” Hathiramani says.

Fatigue

Fatigue could also be an indication of insufficient fueling and hydration. But when each run appears like an uphill battle, even when overlaying flat floor, the difficulty could also be your restoration.

“Persistent fatigue is usually because of the lack of enough relaxation and restoration, that are vital to take care of good psychological and bodily well being in addition to optimum efficiency,” Hathiramani says. “The longer and tougher your coaching routine, the longer the remainder and restoration you might want.”

He notes that it’s tough to deal with fatigue within the second; the most effective you are able to do is sluggish your tempo or incorporate periodic strolling intervals. To deal with the basis challenge of your ongoing fatigue, it is advisable make structural adjustments to your coaching.

“Do not improve weekly mileage too drastically. Keep away from coaching packages which are too lengthy to stop each psychological and bodily fatigue. Discover a higher stability between operating and cross-training, speed-work, and simpler effort runs,” Hathiramani says. “Lastly, plan full relaxation days or a full week, a therapeutic massage. Hearken to your physique and resume coaching with renewed energy.”

Many issues come up from gear actually rubbing runners the improper manner. Even attire, socks, and sneakers particularly designed for operating could cause issues. However there are some tried and true preventative techniques and mid-run workarounds.

Cramps and stitches

In relation to managing sudden muscle cramps and facet stitches, a very good protection is usually the most effective offense. And when that fails, take a deep breath.

Muscle cramps

As an train physiologist, Buckingham has studied muscle cramps. “For the way prevalent muscle cramps are within the inhabitants, we actually do not know precisely what causes them,” he says. “It may very well be like dehydration. It may very well be electrolytes. It may very well be the carbohydrates you’ve accessible. It may very well be how briskly you are operating, if you’re not operating applicable paces. It may very well be a neurological challenge. And doubtless the most effective clarification of all is that it is some kind of mixture of all of these various things.”

Correct fueling and hydration, progressive coaching, and warming up earlier than a run could assist forestall cramping. However you would do every part proper and nonetheless seize up. In that case, “begin by adjusting your respiration and bodily effort to assist your muscle tissue calm down,” Hathiramani says. “As well as, soak up enough fluids and electrolytes in case you’re dehydrated.” Ingesting some carbohydrates, like an vitality gel, could assist, too.

Aspect stitches

Analysis1 on the facet sew isn’t conclusive. Sudden, sharp belly pains could also be associated to a runner’s respiration patterns, digestion, hydration, biomechanical points, or degree of bodily health.

Overlaying your bases from coaching, fueling, and hydration views could push back facet stitches. Hathiramani additionally recommends rhythmic respiration. “This system coordinates your foot strike with inhalation and exhalation in an odd/even sample, so that you land alternately in your proper and left foot initially of each exhalation when your diaphragm relaxes, and you’ve got much less stability within the core,” he says. “That is executed to stability the influence stress of operating on each side of your physique. All the time exhaling on the identical foot is just like carrying a backpack on just one shoulder.”

If, regardless of your finest efforts, you continue to get a sew, Hathiramani recommends inhaling and tightening the belly muscle tissue on the facet of the sew. Maintain for a couple of seconds, then calm down. Repeat till the sew dissolves. Stopping and stretching the arms overhead might also assist.

The weather

Between scorching temps and uneven terrain, it might probably really feel just like the world is working in opposition to you. Be taught to guard your self and decrease influence.

Sunburn

“I lately skilled this,” Clayton says. “I didn’t anticipate the 2024 Boston Marathon to be 80 levels and sunny in April, however that’s what we received on race day. The whole again facet of me was so sunburned—my calves and shoulders peeled for weeks.”

All the time put on sweat-proof SPF (even when it’s chilly and cloudy), and use a hat and sun shades to guard your eyes and face. Should you understand you missed a spot or must re-apply throughout a race, examine an assist station for SPF. Should you discover that you simply’re burning up throughout a coaching run, contemplate re-routing to a shadier space.

Rolled ankle

It occurs so rapidly. One minute, you’re trucking alongside, and the following, your ankle is the scale of a small cantaloupe.

Tree roots, potholes, and uneven sidewalks are sometimes responsible for rolled ankles. However in the event you’re coping with repeat accidents, check out your footwear, as additional cushioning could also be contributing to stability points. You may additionally need to incorporate extra lateral actions, glute strengthening (some analysis2 reveals a correlation between weak glutes and ankle instability), and stability work into your cross-training.

You’ll know nearly instantly if a rolled ankle is one which you can “shake off” or if it’s extra critical. Should you’re unable to bear weight or really feel sharp ache, get your self to a medical tent or name for assist.


Properly+Good articles reference scientific, dependable, latest, strong research to again up the knowledge we share. You possibly can belief us alongside your wellness journey.


  1. Eichner ER. Sew within the facet: causes, workup, and options. Curr Sports activities Med Rep. 2006 Dec;5(6):289-92. doi: 10.1097/01.csmr.0000306432.46908.b3. PMID: 17067495.

  2. DeJong AF, Koldenhoven RM, Hart JM, Hertel J. Gluteus medius dysfunction in females with power ankle instability is constant at totally different strolling speeds. Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon). 2020 Mar;73:140-148. doi: 10.1016/j.clinbiomech.2020.01.013. Epub 2020 Jan 20. PMID: 31986459.



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