Runners should listen to their bodies. We are rarely told what that means in real terms. I do have some evidence of what happens when you don't, though.
Over the past couple of years of running I've had plenty of injuries. Most of them have been as a result of not listening to the warning signals my body was giving me.
It's a learned skill to recognise the difference between tiredness and potential injury. There are some simple ways to get better at spotting the difference.
It's been a hard-earned lesson and one I'm still trying to get right. Because I want all my training sessions to be as good a quality as I can manage.
That's the best reason I can think of for learning to listen to your body.
The 80% rule
I train early in the morning. I mean really early. When I first get out of bed, the first thing I ask is: "Am I at least 80%?"
What I mean by that is: Am I going to run well? Some stiff, achy muscles is one thing. Pain and feeling like crap is something else.
If my system reading is anything less than 80% I get back into bed for an hour.
The 1 to 5 rule
Another easy measure is to assess the aches and pains on a scale of 1 to 5. Being stiff and sore from a hard workout is usually fine.
It's when that soreness feels like it's in the 3-5 range that you should back off.
So when you ask: "how sore am I on a scale of 1 to 5?" 1 being fine and 5 being in agony, be truthful.
If something hurts bad, your run isn't going to go well. If you are a bit achy, another run can sort you out, so go for it.
If to day was an interval session...
This is a dead simple test too.
An intervals session might not be what you planned. But you assess whether if it was an intervals day, would you cope? Could you run those hard segments?
"Could I run a hard intervals session today?" If the answer is "no way" then you need to listen even more to what your body is telling you.
Again, you have to be honest. Otherwise, the run will be of less value and you could be heading into injury territory.
Still getting it wrong...
I got out of bed the other day and noticed immediately that I felt horrible.
I'd been suffering with stomach pains and feeling grotty for the past day or so. And now it felt worse.
I walked into my room where I keep my running kit and paused for a moment.
"I shouldn't go out," my mind said.
So obviously, out I went. I forgot to listen. And I had a crap run. Then I felt even worse all day.
The 80% rule would have had me getting back into bed.
The 1 to 5 check would have stopped me in my tracks.
The could I run intervals test would have had me climbing back in bed.
I ignored them all. And suffered as a result.
So, listen to your body
Failing to listen to your body can result in injury - that's one thing. But also, it can result in poorer performances and in my head, that's often much worse,
A simple check to assess how you feel can be all the difference between a good run and a poor one.
Nobody want to run badly. Your body wants you to run well. It's just that sometimes, it needs a break to get over something a bit broken.
Give your body time, and you'll run well.