This is a question that many runners struggle with. Unfortunately, for all of us, the day comes when we need to stop running. For the rare few, this happens very late in life. For much most of us however, it will occur in our middle age.
The primary reason to stop is the accumulation of nagging injuries. For some people it may be their hips. For Others, it may be their back or their knees or feet. For me, it was severe feet pain that I experienced every morning during the time I was training for long distance runs. I was unable to walk barefoot and had to where my shoes and take anti-inflammatories at all times just to walk around fairly comfortably.
Unfortunately, there’s nothing like running to create beneficial cognitive physical and emotional benefits. Runners enjoy improved mood and increased cognitive and physical function. Unfortunately, overtraining can progress to negative problems such as mood swings, sleep disruptions and an overstressed system, also known as overtraining syndrome.
Obviously the aches and pains and chronic injuries may be telling you it’s time to switch to low impact activities such as biking or cross training. Unfortunately, long term running can lead to progressive arthritis of joints. It also can increase your low back pain due to frequent pounding on your lower spine.
In the end, it makes sense to ask yourself why you are running and why do we exercise. For 99% of us, we do it so we can feel and look better and live healthy, productive lives. If our running is causing an opposite effect, it’s time to make a switch.