Something we all struggle with as runners, and something I’m not shy to admit I’m bad at, is, going easy. There is something in our minds that tells us it’s not ok to go easy, and it’s a sign of weakness. But this isn’t and shouldn’t be the case. If anything, it’s a sign of strength. Possessing the ability to listen to your body and take it easy when your legs are struggling is an incredible trait to possess. One I only wish I was rational enough to possess without being told.
Being long-distance runners, our ‘season’ is never ending. Our winter starts as early as October with cross-country and finishes in as late as March. We are then straight onto the road before heading into track season. Road running continues throughout the year and leads us straight back to cross country. As a result, this means there is no natural break in the year. We continue training and racing year after year but have to avoid burning out. So, how do we do this?
It is important to recognise when we need to go easy. There is nothing to be ashamed about by having an easy week. We all need one every now and then to avoid burning out, but to also avoid injury. Whilst some of us do have a few weeks off at the end of the summer, this isn’t always guaranteed depending on race plans.
Since my return to training and racing in October last year, it has been non-stop hard training to try and get myself back to where I was. Whilst I am running better than I was before my injury, I have had to cautious. Last week I hit a wall. My legs struggled in every session I did, and my legs felt heavy even in my easy runs. I knew I would have a few easy days towards the end of the week as I had the Vitality 10k coming up and hoped that would refresh my legs. Unfortunately, it didn’t.
In addition to going off too fast, my legs had zero energy in them during the race. It was a battle from start to finish, but one I was not going to give in to. Once I had finished the race, I knew I needed to get my legs back. Whilst I knew what I needed to do, I always struggle to admit it and decide to have a few days easy myself. I have however learnt how to deal with this, and it is honesty. If I tell my coach exactly how I am feeling, she will tell me what I should do. That way I will listen, and I will do as I’m told, as I wasn’t the one making the decision. Sounds silly, but it’s what coaches are here for. To keep us in line. I have also been suffering from a few niggles in the past few weeks, which has meant training hasn’t been as I would’ve liked it.
My coach immediately told me exactly what I knew. She told me to have a few days easy and wait until the weekend to do a quality session. Whilst I hate having to take a step back from intense training, I know I need to. My sessions during the week wouldn’t have been as I would’ve hoped as my body would still be tired. Nothing is going to be lost from a few easy days, but it may be if I keep ploughing on and don’t listen to my body. The niggles I have been feeling are quite literally my body’s way of telling me to take it easy for a little while.
Whilst it may be difficult to do, there is no shame in going easy for a few days or a week. The most important thing is managing your body and doing your upmost to prevent burning out or getting injured.
I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!