At the heart of the issue is the competitive runner's soul. To us, motion is the state in which the human condition is at it's pinnacle, while the body is in motion, the mind can become trance-like. Today's activity, effort and miles leads not only to a greater well-being today, it also allows us to make progress towards the great goal on the horizon. The height not yet reached, but which you have convinced yourself is possible, and therefore desirable. Not only does today's lack of effort hinder the habits which your mind and body have fallen into, they signal a perceived stagnation, or even worse, a degradation of hard earned progress.
Rationally, running while in pain is not going to make you a stronger runner. Let me qualify that. Running with pain originating from an imbalance or injured part of your body will not make you a stronger runner. Running on into the distance with an even dull burn in your muscles and a little fire in your lungs is precisely what will make your body adapt to new exalted heights. However if the pain is the "wrong" kind of pain and you are not going to be able to improve your body's physiological adaptations to forward motion, it is imperative to listen to your body and give it some rest from running.
If you are still reading my prose at this point, and if you continue to understand the logical aspirations then you are truly a diamond in the rough. The fact is that injuries small and large are part of the running experience. We are pushing our bodies to perform more. We expect to see improvements and believe that if we increase our work, effort, and dedication we will see the desired results. Sometimes we will see these improvements. If we really know what we are doing, it might even happen often. Nonetheless there are times we push too far, introduced a new variable too quickly, or simply have to take our foot off the gas for an unknown reason. Trying to stick to a preplanned running structure without listening to your body's feedback every single day is a fool's errand.
I have three more days before The Hell of The Northwest Trail Half Marathon. I have a tight IT band on my right side. I know my body is strong, I want to compete to the best of my abilities at this race without compromising the build up to my inaugural 50K experience this December. It is hard to say what will happen in the next couple of days. I hope to have some feedback from my body soon. On Saturday I hope to run on the soft trails with both of my IT bands on board with the program. If they are not, however, I will have to take it in stride. I don't think this is a serious running mechanics issue. It will heal with a little time and rest, nonetheless, it is hard to face the possibility of starting a race that you will not finish. To give all you have is easy, to want to give all you have, and not be able to, now that is the true heartache of an athlete.