How often do you hear the phrase 'listen to your body'?
While that sounds like a simple concept, how do we make sure that we are actually doing it? How do we learn to read our bodies and listen to the cues that it gives us, even if it's against what our overall goals for that day, week or month are?
Running is a sport with a high demand, both physically and mentally. When we are struggling to meet that demand, most of us are inclined to push through it and keep going. It makes sense, as we are trained everyday to push through pain, physical and mental, to get the best results.
But while that concept may work to our advantage to get through a tough workout, pushing through fatigue, injury, mental health struggles and burnout is not sustainable and will end up hurting you much more in the long run.
Managing an injury is a very important time to listen to your body.
Sometimes, it may be an injury that just needs rehabilitation. Maybe it's an issue you can still run through. That's great!
But you should still listen to body and be mindful of cues that tell you to slow it down or pull it back. The priority is to heal as fast as possible. Pushing ourselves over the edge to continue training exactly how we want -- even when it's not helping our body heal properly -- is counterproductive. Remember that rest and recovery is productive when your body needs it to get back to training at the highest level.
When it comes to fatigue and burnout, it's easy to make excuses and ignore the signs that our body needs a break. It's easy to say we're just tired, stressed, have a lot of school work, or have had a long week.
But there is a difference between when this happens on occasion -- which is normal -- versus when your fatigue has a pattern, or when it becomes constant. In this case, there may be something more you need to look into. Even if there isn't something specific wrong, those reasons may be valid enough to reevaluate what you have on your plate and urge you to figure out a change that may need to be made so that you can manage doing it all and feeling your best.
You should still listen to body and be mindful of cues that tell you to slow it down or pull it back. The priority is to heal as fast as possible. Pushing ourselves over the edge to continue training exactly how we want when it's not helping our body heal properly is counterproductive. Remember that rest and recovery is productive when your body needs it to get back to training at the highest level.
Finally, mental health may be the most important thing to 'listen to' but also the easiest to put aside.
When we are going through a tough time mentally, we need to remember to give ourselves grace, and that it is absolutely okay, and necessary, to prioritize our mental health. Mental and physical health are codependent of each other, so when your mental health is suffering it's very likely going to affect you physically.
Take a step back, listen to what you need and not what you want. Know that it is more important to take care of yourself sooner rather than later before you may have to make much bigger sacrifices.
In conclusion, here are two important things to take away from this article on 'listening to our bodies.'
- Training is going to ebb and flow, and you have to ebb and flow with it. What this means is that you have to adapt to how you feel, to those unexpected life circumstances, or just how current life circumstances may require you to take a step back. It will benefit you so much more in the long run to feel refreshed and strong. For example, you feel great for a few weeks and have a great training block, and then the next week you feel off and sluggish. We also need to remember not to fight those sluggish weeks but embrace them and allow ourselves the extra rest and recovery we may need. Maybe you need to take some runs a little shorter or easier because you just had a hard couple weeks. Or maybe there is no rhyme or reason to it and you just need a more down week. That's called listening to your body, not being lazy or slacking. Pushing through isn't always the answer. We have to adapt with our body to give it what it needs.
- It's not all or nothing. We often think that if we admit to feeling fatigued, being burnt out, being mentally unstable, or being injured, we are going to have to stop running completely. That is not true! It's important to recognize and admit all of these things because sometimes all it takes are small tweaks and changes to make sure you feel and perform your best.
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