Last week I made a decision I definitely wouldn’t have been able to make in the past. Thursday morning, I woke up, went for my aqua jog, reduced it because I felt tired and didn’t want to hinder my session that evening, then went back to bed. I napped, something which is usually unheard of when it comes to me. I napped for over 4 hours with the hope that when I woke up I would feel better. However, when I woke up I felt no better than I did before. I hoped that I just felt lethargic; that having spent the entire day in bed I needed to get some fresh air and I would feel fine after. I left for my session, having prewarned my coach I did not feel 100%.
I set off on my warm up, convinced I felt a lot better than I had all day. The session was a big one, and inside I knew I was not in the right state to be able to complete it to my usual standard. I set off on the first rep, and after 30 seconds I pulled out. My legs had that virally ache to them. Not the ache associated with working hard, but that jarring ache that covers every inch of your body. I had suggested to my coach, if I didn’t feel good on the session I would go and do an easy run, but she said to me to go home and rest if that was the case.
I feel proud of myself that I was able to make the mature decision to stop and not do my session. My body was telling me it needed to rest and was fighting itself without even doing any running. Prior to my injury I would’ve endured every session no matter how I felt, but I knew if I continued I would be fighting whatever was telling me to stop for the next week. I would’ve constantly fought against myself and my body even when it needed a break, something that is not mentality conductive for a strong and resistant runner. By deciding to stop, I was able to return home and get a good night sleep, meaning when I woke up Friday morning I felt 100 times better.
Sometimes we just need to listen to our body. We can’t constantly fight ourselves when our body doesn’t feel up to doing what we want it to. We have to work with ourselves in order to avoid doing ourselves any unnecessary harm. I may not have done myself any severe harm had I done my session, but it would not have been of the quality I wanted, and it may not have boded well for the future. The fact I was able to make a sensible decision shows I am no longer irrational when it comes to running. I care about my future as an athlete and in order to stay injury free and healthy, I have to make the right decisions for my body and mentality.
It’s not always about getting in all the miles, and every session, irregardless of how you feel. If your body is telling you to stop... STOP! Listen to what your body is saying, as it is usually right!
Should I run on Christmas Day?
This is the question many runners ask themselves. Yes, there will be someone out there running on Christmas Day, and just because they are, doesn’t mean you should. Likewise, if you always run on Christmas Day, just because somebody else doesn’t, does not mean you should feel pressured into not doing so. I also write from a non-alcohol drinking perspective, therefore if you enjoy a few too many drinks on the 24th or the 25th, going for a run may be off your schedule completely!
Whether you should or shouldn’t run on Christmas Day is entirely up to you! Some people feel they need to run on Christmas Day and enjoy the short break to get out of the house and escape the madness for a short while. This is completely ok! If you enjoy doing this no one should tell you otherwise. Other people enjoy going for a run as soon as they wake up on Christmas Day. They enjoy lapping up the serenity of the quiet roads on Christmas morning. And again, this is completely ok!! Whilst other people enjoy going for a late afternoon/ evening run. They enjoy going out for a jog to lighten up their stomachs and gain some more room for the evening delights involved on Christmas Day! As you guessed, this too is ok!
On the other hand, some people enjoy a day off from running on Christmas Day! They see Christmas day as a day to be spent entirely with the family and enjoy a couple of drinks too many. It’s the one day of the year where you can be surrounded by those you love and do absolutely nothing except eat, drink, and laugh with silly hats on your head and it be acceptable! It’s completely up to you whether you do or don’t run on Christmas Day! Personally, sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t! Most of the time I don’t! Christmas Day has always been a day spent entirely with my family. It is a day to be with those I love and not put my trainers on. Yes I do factor it in to my training plan and ensure it comes at a day off that fits with the rest of my training in December, but that’s just how I do it. If it doesn’t fit with your training, but you want the day off... then do it!
Do whatever suits you! There is no correct answer whether you should or shouldn’t! Enjoy the day, it only comes once a year!
Oh, and Happy Christmas!!
Last Sunday was a very big day for me. I finally got to hit the roads and race for the first time in 13 months! To say I wasn’t nervous would be a lie, but I was also very excited. I was nervous as I had no idea where I was time wise in relation to 10k, and due to being on relatively low mileage, I didn’t know how I would fair over the longer distance. I didn’t want to go out too fast and die after only 5k! I was however, excited too, I was finally able to get back on the roads after my injury. It finally felt like I was no longer being held back by my injury.
The race itself was Telford 10k. With a very high-quality field, I truly did plunge myself right in at the deep end. The first 300m was all downhill. This may sound like an amazing start to a race, but to me, it most definitely was not! I hate running downhill. I started off cautiously in order to avoid boiling up and dying early on and took the entire race in my stride. I felt strong, and I felt solid! I had no negative thoughts flying threw my head, and I no longer felt weak. My body was ready to do what I wanted it to do. It felt incredible to be back on the road and doing what I love to do.
The most important thing that Sunday told me was, that I am no longer playing catch up!! I am no longer in the recovery stage trying to get back to where I was before my injury. I am in the progression and development phase! I can finally focus on becoming the better athlete I want to be and continue to slowly build on the strong base I am developing. I am able to improve on my previous performances and am no longer aspiring to be where ‘I was’, I am trying to get to a new place, a stronger place than I ever have been.
Sometimes we become so consumed within training and racing, that we find it difficult to switch off. I for one, find myself becoming stressed if I deny myself downtime, which results in me overthinking everything without even realising ! I may think I am coping fine and am very relaxed, when in fact I am not. It is not until I take a trip home and am able to have some downtime that I realise how much I genuinely needed it.
It can be difficult to tell when some downtime is needed. Sometimes the signs may be physical; we may feel lethargic, have heavy legs, and start to feel overly tired whilst training. This is usually a sign we need to allow ourselves a break. For me, when I would become stressed my body would not receive the recovery it needed. Therefore, I would go into a new training session feeling as tired as I did in the one before. This was not conductive to my training; I needed a brief bout of downtime to recharge and refuel, to allow my body to get going again. Sometimes it takes your body to shout at you, for you to realise you need some downtime.
Additionally, the signs may be psychological. I become aware of my need to have some downtime when I begin to worry excessively. I am naturally a worrier, so a little bit of worrying is normal for me! If I wasn’t worrying, I would worry something was wrong! (If that’s possible!). But, when I find myself overthinking and worrying about petty, insignificant things, I know I need some downtime to take my mind away from them. I also begin to overthink what others may be thinking about me, overthink what I’m saying, and over think what I’m doing. This doesn’t help anyone, and it especially doesn’t help me. Therefore this is a major sign I need to allow myself some downtime.
Downtime for me, involves spending time with my family, walking the dogs, relaxing with my boyfriend, or simply reading a book. It is so important for everyone to find something outside of running that allows them to unwind and relax. You need these ‘destressors’ in order to benefit your training. A bit of time to take your mind away from training and racing can be very beneficial to your performance!
So, what does downtime mean to you? And how do you take your mind away from the stresses of the present?
I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!