How to Know When to Stop Running

As runners, we often push ourselves through discomfort to get through a run. But lately, I’ve been thinking about when it’s right to ignore the discomfort and when it’s time to throw in the towel.

Last week, my friend was telling me about her friend’s husband that had a heart attack while running. It took 10 minutes for someone to find him and get help. He didn’t make it. He was 37.

I saw 2 girls passed out in the middle of the Gasparilla Half Marathon last week with medical personnel surrounding them. And even I felt like crap during that race, but kept going till the end.

I found an article on when to stop running, and I thought it would be good to share. This is taken from Runner’s World:

Discomfort in the Upper Body
The symptoms of a heart attack can be subtle (an ache or feeling of pressure in the chest, arms, neck, and jaw), and they won’t necessarily drop you to your knees. Don’t assume it’s heartburn. Seek immediate medical attention.

Faintness, Lightheadedness, Nausea
Take a time-out and reassess the situation. It might be that you skipped breakfast, or it could be something more serious like a heat-related illness. Cut your workout short. If you don’t feel better after resting and eating, see your doctor.

Shortness of Breath
If you are wheezing or if you have trouble catching your breath within five minutes, take a break. Pay particular attention to whether you are using ancillary muscles–lifting your shoulders to try and increase capacity, forcing air into your lungs. If the symptoms persist after five minutes of rest, seek immediate medical attention.

Pain in Joints
Expect muscle aches as you challenge yourself, but never accept pain in joints during or after exercise. This can lead to serious injuries of bones, tendons, and ligaments. See your doctor.

Unspecified Pain
Pain is your body’s way of identifying an injury and wrenching you away from the stressor to protect you from further harm. To run through it, you’re going to have to override your body’s natural instincts to protect itself, which isn’t smart. Pain is injury. See your doctor.

These all say to see your doctor which I’m sure isn’t always necessary if you have one of these symptoms, but I think it’s good to at least know what to look out for and to remember your health is more important than finishing a race.


Filed under Running Tips

4 responses to “How to Know When to Stop Running

  1. This is a good reminder. I think so many runners accept that running is supposed to be hard and tend to ignore unusual pain. Its important to listen to our bodies no matter what!

  2. This is a great post, I recently hurt my IT band when I was running and have been recovering for a month now. I wish I would have realized that it wasn’t just a cramp :-/

    • Thank you! I have a lot of stomach issues when I run and sometime’s I’m not sure when it’s ok to keep going and when I should stop, so that article really helped me. I need to know when I’m dying! 🙂

  3. I just want to add something. From personal experenice, i suggest you all to never run on an emty stomach. When you do your body will be in a “low blood sugar” state and very easy for you to faint or collapse. Listen to your body not your mind.

    Load your body with Carbs before a run (after an hour) when your body has broken down the carbs into ATP you will have the energy in your mucels to endure the having running.

    This is just come from personal experience.
    Btw I like your blog! 🙂

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