I found that there are three pains when it comes to running. I used to think there were just two: good and bad, but after getting back into running as an older guy, I found a third: the old man pains.
Here, I’ll go through the pains of running.
Good pain. This is the muscle ache you feel after a good run. It’s a pain that says, “Good job on that last run. You worked it. Now give us a day to heal and get stronger and you can go again.” I used to really hate even this pain, but I’ve grown to embrace it as a sort of trophy of my efforts.
Bad pain. This is when you pulled or hurt something. This is typically a sharp pain and needs to be paid attention to. This also tells you that it’s time to back off a bit and heal before heading back out again. I dread bad pain. I’ve been lucky in the past month to have not been visited by bad pain.
Old Man pain. This is what I feel in the mornings when I wake up. Either a hip or a knee are the usual culprits. I find that this old man pain makes it a little painful to walk, but once I start running, the pain goes away almost immediately. If I set a good pace and stretch out my steps, the pain goes away even faster. The strange part: when I finish a run and start walking again, the old man pain can sometimes come back (like it did this morning).
Part of my ability to get back into running in a way I never have before was recognizing that running involves some level of discomfort just as studying for exams involved mental discomfort. Anything worth acquiring requires discomfort in one way or another as well as delayed gratification. I knew I wouldn’t be running 6 minute miles within a month of starting back up, but I’m nearly at 9 minute miles after starting at 12:30 minute miles just four weeks ago. I consider that solid progress, and running 3 miles every other day hasn’t been nearly as bad as I made it out to be. I still plan to start hitting daily runs soon.