from mile to marathon

The journey of a thousand leagues begins from beneath your feet.
Lao-Tzu

Thursday, January 04, 2007

in tune with the body

I caught a cold. Running nose, cough, lightheadedness, shivers. It was 16 degreees this morning and dark when I walked across the complex to the exercise room. I did not feel like going. It seemed sounder to stay in bed, somehow enacting a crash course in getting better. I did not feel like going to work either. My body has its own ideas as to how we should spend the day.

In one of the books on running I borrowed from the library I read about this guy - from Kenya? - who ran countless marathons in a row and won most of them. The way he does it, the book said, he listens to his body. He's been known to get out of bed in the morning, run one mile, and return into the sheets if the running did not agree with him.

Sounds good, being in tune with one's body. I am not sure though I can distinguish the body's smart vibes from laziness, which I share with the body as well, after all. When I intend to run 12 miles and make the judicious decision to be content with 10, was it my body signaling exhaustion, or just self-indulgence? What is the difference between the pain by which you hurt yourself and the pain by which you grow?

The run this morning - four miles - was effortless, fluid, fast, smooth.

11 Comments:

At 11:59 AM, Blogger Backofpack said...

Good question. I sometimes ask the same question of myself, and since I never know the answer 99% of the time I push on. That allows me to forgive the 1% that I don't. I also know that since I never let myself quit, if I do decide to cut it short, it must be valid. Does that make sense?

Also, a general rule of thumb that I read about illness and follow is: if it's above the shoulders, go run, if it's below the shoulders, take the day off. The only time I didn't do this was when I felt sick most of the time prior to having my gallbladder out. I would not have run for most of three years if I had followed that advice! The rest of the time I do.

 
At 1:19 PM, Blogger Tom Bailey said...

This is one of the great challenges of running. How far to push and when to listen to your body. And can the mind push past the body?

This is what I really like about running is the people that push no matter what. It is such an individual question.

 
At 2:15 PM, Blogger robtherunner said...

I usually decide based on how desperate my goal may seem. If the goal calls for desperate measures then I push on and force my body to grow. If not, then I tend to err on the side of caution.

 
At 5:59 PM, Anonymous Annette said...

I struggle with that one, too. I go with backofpack's advice on illness. As for being tired, that's always a tough one. Good job getting out there when you really weren't feeling like it!

 
At 9:24 PM, Blogger Chad said...

Generally, I'm really nervous about injuries so if I feel any twinges or tweaks in my legs ankles or feet that don't work themselves out in a mile or so (after I feel them), I tend to slow, stop and go home.

Otherwise, I tend to find that my body tends to loosen as I keep going up until I'm about 2-3 miles past my comfortable long run range and it tigthens up.

You'll get faster and build your endurance by training consistently for 6 weeks, than by pushing hard for one week and recuperating for 5.

 
At 11:56 PM, Blogger Bob Gentile said...

hmm I just run like Prefontaine or UNTIL I puke OR until I pass OUT--- ok I am so kidding but ya know sometimes I wonder what that limit is... then I wake UP from my dreams and listen to the body...push but nothing that foolish, well not yet- lol

I am sure I will have those FOOLISH pass out PUKE moments in my future---ahhh I am excited umm crazy ummm crazy excited...

my BIG question which will be answered in the future is HOW will I react mentally when I am crashing physically on an Ultra run...that's why I am training...thats why I decided to DO this RUN Thing!!

 
At 11:10 AM, Blogger Black Knight said...

In my opinion pain is pain and it always hurts. Take care and don't run if you feel bad.

 
At 6:14 PM, Blogger rick said...

So despite the cold you had a great run? That's great.
Like "Back of the Pack" and "Annette", if the cold moves down into my chest I'm more cautious. I tend to be more cautious. If you're always out and in good shape, a couple of days won't hurt you.

If I'm feeling lousy and it doesn't improve after a 10-15 minutes I turn back. The same goes with colds, aches and general lack of motivation. I've turned back even when there was nothing physically wrong with me just a lousy feeling overall that didn't improve over a mile.

 
At 6:54 PM, Blogger Lisa - Slow & Steady said...

i've learned the hard way about overuse injuries. There is really no need to tough it out for a few workouts when the ramifications could end up being WEEKS without running due to illness or injury.

 
At 3:41 AM, Blogger Lora said...

The challenge of running--"an experiment of one"--I think it's the main reason most of us run.

Discovering our limitations and our excellence is a big drive--so just buckle up, keep asking questions of your body and take notes.

You're really doing great so far--trust the process.

 
At 12:42 PM, Blogger Ryan said...

Good thought provoking post! Here's a wonderful way I listen to my body literally, I use my HRM (heart rate monitor) to take my resting hr when I wake up in the morning if it's above the avg then I take a couple rest days this usually is a good sign I'm pushing my body to hard, when I choose to ignore the signs I usually end up with a bad cold or fell really lousy on my run. Runners alike succumb to running cramps from time to time and while they are extremely unpleasant and painful, they are no cause for alarm my rule of thumb is anything that requires you to change your gait is probably a something stop and think about.

 

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