If you’ve been reading my blog, you already know that I’m the type of person who runs despite bad weather, lack of motivation, travel plans or other factors (so long as it’s safe), and that I always strive to push myself as hard as possible during races and other challenging runs.

But what about those days when my body just isn’t feeling right? Like this morning, for instance?

Respecting your body’s signals is a key part to training wisely and to reaching your running goals – or, as Bart Yasso proclaims in this video on his three running commandments, “Rest is part of training.” If you ignore a niggle and proceed as normal hoping it will go away on its own, or if you train every day instead of giving yourself at least one day of crucial rest, you will certainly risk injury. In other words, “Don’t run too far. Don’t run too often. Don’t run too fast.

Does all this sound a bit obvious? Sure, in theory it might. But in practice, how many times have you ignored these simple rules and pushed yourself just a little too much, or gone on that run you probably should have skipped, because you really REALLY wanted to get out there? I certainly am guilty…there have been days when I KNEW that going on a particular run would ultimately set me back, but I still struggled to keep myself from doing it. Thankfully, and in part because I worked with a great coach who specializes in injury prevention, I’m training more wisely these days! Quality over quantity, as with many things…

Now that I’m not working with my coach, I have to be very self-disciplined when it comes to heeding my body’s signals. However, it’s not always clear what you should do. For example, when I woke up this morning feeling a bit sore, I wondered whether or not I should postpone my VO2 max session to another day.  The soreness was more general (from spin class and weights) than acute, but I had experienced shin pain the previous week after doing the same session, which concerned me. I also shouldn’t have done my lower body strength training the day before a hard run – better to have a day in between, and do an easy run instead. In the end, I decided to go ahead and do it, because I felt okay overall and didn’t want to mess up my training schedule.

After a pretty strong session and nice long stretch, I was very pleased with myself. But now, hours later, I’m feeling it – and not in a good way. My shins are tight again, and my right ankle is sore. Nothing extreme by any means, but still, NOT GOOD. Something that can grow far worse if I’m not careful.

So what am I going to do?

Ice the sore areas, stretch, and NOT run home as planned. Get a good night’s sleep, have a nutritious dinner, and NOT run tomorrow as planned. Instead, I’ll go to yoga class, which I had hoped to do anyway, followed by some upper-body strength training. Friday will remain my rest day, as scheduled, and then, I hope, I will be recovered enough to tackle a tough training weekend, which includes a hill interval session and a 100min off-road long run. But if I still don’t feel great, I have to remind myself – Rest is part of training – and do a gentler activity instead. The frustration I will feel from a missed run certainly can’t compare to the potential disappointment of having to pull out of my half-marathon! I’ve never pulled out of a race, and I hope to keep it that way…

Lastly, I’m going to have a sports massage on Tuesday morning. The verdict is still out as to whether or not sports massage actually improves running performance, but in my opinion, it’s CRUCIAL. Hour-long sessions every 3-4 weeks got me through months of tough marathon training, not to mention the fact that I simply LOVE massage, of any type. It’s pricey, but it’s my main treat to myself. Well, not counting my mission to travel as much as possible and my running gear addiction… 🙂

So my goal for the rest of the week is to keep the Big Picture in sight – and to really enjoy my next two days of “training,” which shouldn’t be too difficult at all!!

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