There's a unique physical balance that is different for every individual. Some bodies may be able to run 7 times a week. Some, like mine, cannot. Listening to your body is probably the most important part of any athletic training regimen, one that I tend to forget with my "go hard or go home" attitude.
About a month ago, I made a "to do" list in preparation for my first half marathon. A runner I may not be yet, but a list maker I am. Here's a snapshot of my list:
- get new runners!
- run 5 times a week
- weight train, yoga and spinning once a week each
- eat 6 times a day to fuel for activity
- tune up at the city's 10K, that's only 3 weeks away
Two weeks later, I'm down and out (this would be the trouble part I mentioned above). My knee was wobbly, my achilles was throbbing, and my rotator cuff was just plain uncomfortable. Looking back at my original list, I think I brought "gung-ho" to a new level. I should have known better than to dive right into it. As a child, I was full of semi-functional body parts, evidence of a small athlete with big dreams. When I set a goal, I get excited, and that voice of reason gets … unreasonable.
Stretching behind the pant table at work earlier this week, a friendly woman asked me what was wrong. "My whole right side!" I replied half jokingly. We started chatting about running and not before long she was revealing her own athletic goals and recovery secrets. She was tall, strong and training for a triathlon this summer.
Her best piece of advice for me? "Why aren't you listening to your knee? You know, it's great if you run your half marathon this year. But it won't mean much if you can't run with your kids in ten years. Listen to your body."
Most runners schedule a day of rest and almost all athletes believe in down time. Studies have shown that it's when you are not running that the muscle rebuilds itself and gets stronger. If the muscle doesn't receive enough recovery time, continuous training will break it down more than build it up. As much as I am dedicated to my running goal, I am just as committed to my newfound running mantra of "run hard, rest harder".
So what am I doing on my day off? Listening to my body and actually taking a day off!