When you're not feeling the greatest, what do you do? Do you just plow through? Or do you give some serious thought to how you're feeling and, if you feel necessary, adjust your training? At what point do you switch from just plowing through to adjusting? How long do you give yourself to return to normal training? Until you're feeling 100%? 90%? 80%? Less?
One commonality I've noticed among runners is that we prefer to push through. Runners in general are highly motivated, very persistent individuals. We don't want to give in, no matter what. That's normally a good thing but it can be counterproductive if taken too far. I've seen runners run through stress fractures, serious illness that required antibiotics and all kinds of other things. Some even take pride in doing these things, even though running through serious issues like these often backfires and requires more time off later. Does that sound like something to be proud of?
If taking a few days off now or replacing a hard day with an easy day will allow you to prevent several days or weeks off later, what's the obvious choice that should be made?
Next time you find yourself dinged up or ill, be honest with yourself. Sure, we all run through aches or the occasional sore throat or congestion. But ask yourself how bad is this really, will running through it just make it worse? Then answer honestly. Then do the right thing. You know what the right thing is if you're being honest with yourself.
Note: One of the runners I coach motivated me to write this post I have been thinking about for a while by asking if taking off on a scheduled easy day would pose a problem. My response: "Wise choice. I wish all runners made such wise decisions."
Photo credit: nprpdx, on FlickrQuote