by Sarah Bremer
One of the most challenging and rewarding things I’ve found with running is that it teaches you (hopefully) to listen to your body in new and important ways. Challenging because it’s SO hard to know when our bodies are telling us to back off . . . and rewarding because, often, when we do actually listen we’re able to avoid injury or over training and continue toward our running goals with only minor interruption.
I’m a type A personality . . .a lot of us are. We push through everything, often thinking that if we don’t push through it’s a sign of weakness or personal failure. In that type A-ness it’s easy forget how important it is to step back when we’ve reached THAT point – be it from stress (running, life, work or otherwise), fatigue, pain. I find this to be especially true with running.
It’s hard to know which pains to run through . . . or just how tired is too tired . . . when to push forward and when to stop. I’ve found all my Rogue training companions to be a highly motivated and motivating group. It’s easy to want to keep on keepin’ on when you’re surrounded by such enthusiasm for running. And on a challenging long run when you need to push through the small aches and pains simply brought on by running 20+ miles, you couldn’t ask for better support or encouragement.
I’ve been feeling off for a few months . . . I’ve struggled through several runs, battling dizziness and fatigue. Until about two weeks ago . . . I’d been pushing through. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was really off – especially in my running. I finally got up the nerve to go to the doctor and it turns out . . . I was right, my body was trying to tell me that it wasn’t working right. This has all led to additional doctor visits and more tests . . . I still don’t have any answers to what exactly is wrong, but I have gained more confidence in my ability to listen to my body . . . especially when I’m running. I’m not sure that I would have known something was so off if it hadn’t impacted my running the way these recent health issues have.
So, for the last few days, I’ve finally raised my hand, acknowledged that my body is telling me to back off a little. I’ve said when.
I’m hoping, now, that today, after a few days of rest and a short break from long running, I’ll be back to feeling closer to my old running self. For me, scary as this experience has been (and still is as it continues), I’ve found that I know my body better than I think I do . . . and there is great relief in that. If pain or fatigue is impacting me enough that I can’t push through a run then chances are I’m right in thinking that things are off . . . it’s time to say when.
So many of us struggle with these issues. We love to run. For many of us it’s one of the highlights of our day . . . it’s that time we have to ourselves in days filled with the responsibilities and obligations of work and family. It’s SO hard to let go of that time. I think for me, struggling through injuries and not feeling well highlights how important running is to me . . . it’s absence is noticeable when it’s not in my life. It’s been a hard reality to acknowledge that if I want running to be a part of my life 15 or 20 years from now then learning to listen to my body . . . to say when . . . is going to be as important to the long term as the mental toughness that comes from pushing through.
But, of course, there’s also knowing when “saying when” has gone on for long enough . . . a blog post for another day, perhaps.