When To Run Through Pain And When To Ease Off From Running

Running is a great activity and very healthy exercise, but sometimes you’ll find something hurts, and it’s important to know when to run through pain and when to call it quits (pertaining to running). If you don’t know when to stop, you might do yourself some serious long-term damage, so pay attention to your body.

Some tricks for knowing when to stop your run include grading how much pain you’re in, paying attention to how localized the pain is, and the location on your body. All of these factors will help you determine how serious the pain is and how soon you should stop running.

Different Types Of Pain And Signs

You might be able to tell what kind of pain you are in if you pause and take stock. If your pain is minor and spread throughout the body, with no particular localized spot, it is probably not too serious and you can keep running.

However, if the pain is sharp, intense, and localized to one area, you may want to stop. Any difficulty with moving your limbs or numbness/tingling should not be ignored. Chest pain accompanied by breathlessness is also a sign you should stop running.

If you have pain in a particularly bony area, such as on your shinbone, you should stop as well. You don’t want to be stressing your bones when you run, as this could cause a long-term injury that might stop you from running for months. If you experience this, seek help from a medical professional.

You should also try to notice if you experience the pain repeatedly from one run to the next. Recurring pain indicates that something is wrong, and should not be ignored.

Observe whether the pain stops when you stop running. If it continues, it’s more likely to come from a proper injury, rather than a muscle complaint.

Causes of Injuries

If you run more than 20 miles a week and include at least one hard, high-intensity running session such as speedwork, you are at a greater risk for injury compared to the average runner. Knowing when your body has plunged into overtraining mode and the signs could help prevent running injuries. Common areas of injury for runners deal with:

To prevent injuries caused by running make sure you are including and scheduling active recovery runs in between your harder run days. As a runner, you are most likely to get injured on your heavy volume/high-intensity run days. Check out this post on recovery runs for more detailed information on when to include recovery runs.

Also if you’re overweight and running too much too soon or too far too soon you could be putting undue amounts of extra stress upon your feet impacting while running. Here are 13 great tips to help get you started off injury-free if you’re overweight and starting to run.


If you are getting stiffness and soreness, or even a medium injury such as a sprained ankle, you can turn to home remedies to solve the problem.

Post-run stretching is a good way to reduce muscle pain, as it helps to “cool down” the muscles and lets them relax in a more measured way. Couple this with either a hot or a cold shower to promote blood flow and healing, and you’ll find that muscle soreness is not too intense, even after a long run.

For things like sprained ankles, you can turn to ice packs and elevation to overcome the injury. Lifting your foot up if you have twisted your ankle will help to drain blood away and reduce the swelling and inflammation. Use over-the-counter painkillers if the pain is severe enough to warrant them, and get plenty of rest.

Ice will help, but you shouldn’t put it directly on your skin. Wrap an ice pack in a thin towel or cloth before applying it to your injury, and then allow the ice to reduce the inflammation and make it more comfortable.

Another type of remedy less thought of is to ditch your shoes. Some runners swear by barefoot running and its benefits. For a detailed post about barefoot running check out: How to start running barefoot.

Pain Tolerances

It’s a good idea to be aware of how high your pain tolerance is, so you can factor this into your calculations. If you have high pain tolerances, you might keep running even when the pain is a sign you need to stop.

It isn’t easy to find out how high your pain tolerance is, but you can talk to your doctor about getting it measured. Bear in mind that it will vary, and things like stress, tiredness, illness, or even age can affect your tolerance for discomfort and pain.

If your pain tolerance is high, you need to be more careful about the pain that you push yourself through and make sure that you don’t keep running when you need to slow down or stop. If your pain tolerance is low, it may be safe to keep going through discomfort, but still, be wary of pushing too hard.

When To See A Medically Licensed Professional

It can be hard to know when a running injury is major enough to seek help, so if in doubt, make an appointment rather than leaving it, as it’s better to be safe than sorry. However, as a general rule, you should see a medical professional when:

  • You need to take medication to get rid of the pain
  • The pain is coupled with swelling, tingling, numbness, etc.
  • You can’t sleep at night because of the pain
  • The pain continues even when you aren’t running
  • The pain does not subside after several days of rest

Any of the above can mean that your injury requires a doctor, although the advice may just be to take a rest. It’s still better to ask!


It’s difficult to know when to run through pain and when to slow down and stop, but listening to your body and familiarizing yourself with key warning signs of injury will help to guide your decisions.

Related: How Do I Not Injure Myself During Marathon Training?

Coach Scott's Credentials: He has published over 20 books including, Beginner's Guide to Half Marathons: A Simple Step-By-Step Solution to Get You to the Finish Line in 12 Weeks! (Beginner To Finisher Book 3), which has become an Amazon International #1 bestseller. Scott specializes in helping new runners become injury-free race finishers. He recently completed his 17th half marathon race. 

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When To Run Through Pain And When To Ease Off From Running

Coach Scott