Listen Closely…

9 Feb

…to your body. In my opinion, this is the most important lesson during marathon training.

I firmly believe that listening to my body is how I started 2012 off with a bang. Last year, after I ran the Air Force Marathon and the Amica Half Marathon, I started to feel worn out. My left hip was really bugging me and I felt like I wasn’t making any progress.

I took the rest of October almost completely off, and eased back into my workouts in November and December – allowing for plenty of easy runs, short runs (I didn’t run any longer than 10 miles for the rest of 2011), cross training, and of course, rest.

This is crucial when you train hard. If I hadn’t eased up those last couple of months of 2011, I would not have gone into my training for RnR New Orleans as strong as I did, and stayed as strong as I have through it so far.

Fast forward to the present – more specifically, the last couple of weeks.

Most of January I battled the head cold that wouldn’t quit, until it finally became a full blown cold and knocked me on my butt for a few days. I took a few days off and came back better than ever with my 18 Miles of Awesomeness.

This past week was similar, the cold is gone, but by Thursday I felt like I had been hit by a truck (probably from the 133 miles in January?), so I took it easy again. And again, I ran a killer long run – with a 10 minute PR for a 20 mile training run.

My point is this:

Always train intuitively. Listen closely to every single cue your body gives you. You put too much at risk if you don’t listen.

My tips for listening to your body:

  • Assess your soreness level.
    • Example: On Monday, my body was extremely stiff and sore from running 20 on Saturday and doing P90X Yoga on Sunday. To the point where it was difficult to get up and down out of my chair at work. That’s too sore to run. I took my dog for a 2 mile walk, then stretched my muscles and used the foam roller. On Tuesday morning I still felt a tad sore, but that walk did the trick. If I had run, I probably would’ve made things worse.
  • Assess your level of tired.
    • Last Thursday I was so tired I couldn’t focus on work, all I could think about was sleep. You don’t want to push your body through that, you’ll end up exhausted and sick or injured. Instead I came home, plopped down on the couch with a book and a glass of wine, and relaxed. I also allowed myself to go to bed an hour earlier than normal, so I got 8 hours of sleep. I woke up Friday feeling refreshed.
  • Adjust your training scheduled based on how your body feels.
    • Too sore to run, but not too sore to workout? Go for a bike ride. Use the elliptical trainer. Go for a walk.
    • Too tired or sore to lift weights? Try some body weight exercises or yoga.
    • Feeling generally run down, sore, or exhausted? Take a rest day, or two,  your body is begging for it!

And of course, always remember to take your vitamins and eat your fruits and vegetables!

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9 Responses to “Listen Closely…”

  1. Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean February 9, 2012 at 7:33 am #

    great tips! i’ve really been working on this since i got back on the exercise bandwagon. i’m getting better and knowing when i’m too tired and when i’m just being lazy!

  2. Rachael @ Ready To Get Sweaty February 9, 2012 at 8:42 am #

    These tips are so on point. Last year I pulled a muscle in my leg because I didn’t listen to my body when it said stop. This year I am definitely listening and it really has paid off!

  3. JessSutera February 9, 2012 at 9:15 am #

    excellent advice – and you know I totally agree with you on listening to your body, resting when it asks for it and staying in tune with the signals its sending. You are in such a good space right now – so strong and ready to rock these races of yours, and its because you are training smart. Rock on sista!

  4. jobo February 9, 2012 at 9:26 am #

    Absolutely agree. Your listening to your body and tuning your workouts to that has absolutely paid off. And I have felt the same way this week. As much as I wanted to do my longer run yesterday, I was EXHAUSTED, completely beat. And my legs felt much fresher today and I did it and it was a better run as a result. It makes a huge difference not to push through when the combo of pain and tiredness is far too much.

  5. Krissie J February 9, 2012 at 10:04 am #

    Love this post! I definitely am guilty of pushing too hard some days. ❤

  6. Jessica M February 9, 2012 at 10:41 am #

    Were you thinking of me when you wrote this post? jk! We are on the same exact page sister! 🙂

  7. Carissa Bealert (@CarissaAnneB) February 9, 2012 at 11:32 am #

    I agree! Overtraining is never good. The muscles need time to recover! Treat them right!

  8. eatingforexcellence February 9, 2012 at 11:04 pm #

    Love the honesty in this post! SO TRUE. It’s one of if not the most important thing to do when training for something…or just in general!

  9. Andi Graham February 10, 2012 at 9:29 am #

    Great tips for sure – it’s easy to say “listen to your body” but a lot of us who “train” have taught ourselves to push through so many of our mental blocks that we don’t listen to those real signals. And then we get hurt. I need to keep reading stuff like this while I’m riding high and feeling strong so that it’s engrained when I’m not feeling so well …

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