Listen To Your Body

Some of my friends are amazed when they find out that I get up at 4:30 (or earlier) to run during the week.  They comment that they could never convince themselves to get out of bed.  I admit, it’s tough, but it feels amazing when you do it.  I don’t always want to get out of bed, especially on the days when the alarm goes off and there is a soft, warm cat curled up next to me.  (His response to the alarm is usually to moan and burrow into the blankets.)  But I get up and workout just the same.

But every so often, there comes a day when my body truly doesn’t want to get out of bed.  So I do a quick mental survey.  Am I just tired?  How have I been feeling?  Am I getting sick?  Unless there are obvious signs I’m getting sick (sore throat, headache), I get out of bed and get dressed anyway.  I might as well give the workout a shot.  Worst case, I get a couple of minutes in and realize it’s not happening and give up.

Sometimes, it’s hard to listen to your body.  We are so often training for a specific race.  I’m currently a few weeks into a training plan that takes me into January.  I planned it so that there is some padding in case I miss a long run due to injury or illness, but making the decision to skip what I consider a critical run in my training can be difficult.

When my runner’s knee flared up a few months ago, I had to convince myself that yes, rest was the best option.  It didn’t matter that I needed to train.  If my knee was sore, I wouldn’t be able to race at all.  It was better to go into the race slightly under-trained than to risk injury.

But I admit, even I don’t always make the best decisions.   A few weeks ago, my quad was achy.  I wasn’t sure what I had done, but it hurt.  But I had a 13 mile training run on the schedule and had plans to run with friends.  I didn’t want to miss this run.  So I rested, I put on my compression tights, and I hoped for the best.  Luckily, it turns out the compression was just what I needed and I felt great after the run.  But it certainly wasn’t the smartest decision.

It’s tough to determine when to workout and when to listen to your body and take an unscheduled rest day.  When you can’t decide, my best tip is to just give it a shot.  You’ll know within a few minutes whether or not you can finish the workout.  And if you can, you will feel much better knowing that you did something good for your body.

Hurts So Good

Over the past week, I’ve been dealing with some serious low back tightness.  I’m pretty sure it was from Saturday’s ten mile bike ride (thank goodness I’m getting my bike adjusted today).   I could tell that it was muscular, but no matter what I did, it kept seizing back up.  It felt good while I was active but once I stopped and sat down, it would tighten back up.

So I asked the internet what I could do.  And I came upon some great foam roller techniques.

I especially like this video.  I have a foam roller and I love it, but I have to admit, I use it mostly on my legs.  I never bothered to learn how to use it on my back.  And oh man, does it feel good.  The shoulder part is definitely a bit of an ab workout as well. It’s amazing how easy it is to find a spot I didn’t know was tender.  And it feels so great to work out that soreness.

Based on things my massage therapist has said and on how my body is reacting to the stretching, the back pain seems to be caused by hip and glute tightness.  What does that mean?  More stretching! I have to admit it – I’m a terrible post-run stretcher.  I don’t know why – I just don’t do it.

I keep meaning to take up yoga.  I even own a Yoga for Runners DVD that a friend recommended.  I think it might still be in the original plastic.  Whoops.

Baby steps, I suppose.  I know it’s good for me, so I should do it.  Maybe over the weekend, I’ll finally take the plastic off of that video.