As a runner, I often listen to jokes and questions from co-workers and friends who are non-runners who don't understand our sport. I will often hear, "You ran 22 miles yesterday? I don't think I even drove my car that far." or "What do you think about when you run?" or how about the classic "Do you ever just wake up and not want to go for a run?". I will often smile/laugh at the jokes or just give a really vague answer, but to the last question I often want to scream "YES! I don't always want to go for my runs."
Over the past few years, I have been blessed to have a coach that is working on making me learn to read my own body and know when I should or shouldn't do a run. Now that I am still dealing with the after effects of some health problems, this is even more important than ever before. In the past I would run even if I really, really didn't want to do it. On those days I would get my husband to drive me out however far I was supposed to run and drop me off. Then I had to run because otherwise it would take me FOREVER to get home! Now, especially coming off the fall I have had I realize more than ever before the importance of listening to my body. I love to run. I love the feeling of pushing myself, working towards a goal, and running workouts that I am not sure I can finish and then when I finish feeling so good about the work I just put in. So, when my mind is screaming at me not to run, I take that as a sign and am learning to listen. Now, don't get me wrong, there are times when I am just feeling lazy or would rather finish watching the tv show that I started instead of heading out into the cold, but there are also times when my mind knows something that I don't consciously know (yet).
Yesterday (Wednesday) was one of those days. Tuesday I had a really, really stressful day (that started out with getting stranded in a broken down car and just sort of went downhill) and got in about 11 miles total in two runs with a small workout in the afternoon. I was exhausted, tired and in a horrible mood by the end of the day and I also thought I was getting sick. My throat was a little sore and I was starting to feel congested and sinus pressure. So, I decided to sleep in and not worry about meeting people the next morning for my run. Then the whole day I managed to put off the run. I went to work, but was done by 2:50. I came home but instead of lacing up my shoes and layering up, I got into bed and took a nap! I talked to my coach and the decision to run was left up to me. So after some debating, I took my procrastination as a sign and rested. And I am glad I did. Even though marathon training is partially about training your body to run when it is tired, I know that at times, especially now, I need to listen to my body. Instead of always pushing and always wanting to get in more and more miles, I need to learn to recover, relax and understand what my body is telling me is best. I have been running pretty seriously for about 15 years and I think this is a lesson that I will continue to have to learn with each and every training cycle that I do. Thankfully, I don't have to navigate this all by myself--I have a husband who understands running and me and he can often tell when I need to rest (although I don't always listen), I have a coach who has been a respected runner and coach for years (and I do almost always listen to him, but at times do it grudgingly) and I have amazing family/friends/training partners of all abilities that remind me to relax and take it easy at times. So next time your coworker wants to know how you can motivate yourself to get out the door each and every day for a run and you want to respond by either crawling under the covers or yelling at them--remember to listen to your body to see if you really shouldn't rest instead!