Respect the Distance


Do you ever feel like you can run a certain distance — doesn’t matter if you’ve trained for it or you’re injured — you’ve done it in the past so you know you can just go out and do it, right?

Maybe not
This post isn’t aimed at any one person, which I say because I can think of a few of my friends who might think it’s aimed at them, and it isn’t — or maybe, in a way, it is. I’ve seen so many runners who take on distances they haven’t trained for, either due to life happening or injury recovery.

So many runners get onto social media asking what other runners think of their situation, and the advice is often of course you can do it. Do they know how you feel? Do they know your body?

Marathoners, in particular, have a tendency to get cocky and say “it’s just 10 miles”, because in marathon training, that’s a baby long run.

Everyone thought I would run a marathon after tackling an 18 mile race. I knew there’s a vast difference between 18 miles & a marathon

I can say this of course, because I’ve never run a marathon. 18 miles is a far cry from a marathon. It doesn’t take a toll on your body the way a marathon does.

The next time you’re thinking of taking on a distance you know that you’re really not prepared for, I hope that you’ll at least stop and give it some thought.

Is running this distance worth the potential injury?

Do you really want to run this distance, or do you just not want to throw away the money you’ve invested in this race?

If you decide “I’ll just use this as a training run” — can you really? Or will you get caught up in the excitement of the starting line and run too hard?

Respect the recovery, too
I know I am always harping on recovery, but that’s because it’s so important! Is it that important to you to run this race — or is it more important to you to recover well from your last race and have a better “time” at your next race?

The first time we tackle any longer distance (let’s say any race that is double digits — but it might be a smaller distance for your body) it’s really wise to take some time off of running afterward. Even if you feel fine. Maybe especially if you feel fine.

As your body gets used to running that distance, you won’t need as much recovery time. But the first time? First times are special. Society today seems to reward people only when they push harder and farther. The real reward? A healthy, uninjured body.

Instead of pushing yourself into the next big thing, take some downtime to bask in all that you accomplished and thank your body for all that it does for you. Your body will thank you for that! — Chocolaterunsjudy

It was “only” a 15k, but I went up to double digit runs to train for it

Final thoughts: It’s only . . .
We’ve all said it: it’s only 5 miles. It’s only 8 miles.  It’s only a half. It’s true that as you train, your body adapts to longer and longer distances. It’s kind of miraculous. That doesn’t mean that your body is a machine that can just keep going without breaking.

Learn to listen to your body. Sometimes even learn to ignore your body and listen to your brain — your brain may tell you that you’re not ready, or that you need more rest, but your ego (or social media) might tell you you can do it.

It’s never “only”. It’s hard. Racing is hard. Sometimes even just running is hard. Ignoring niggles, outright injuries, and what your body or head is telling you you need — it often doesn’t end pretty. Be smart, and you’ll enjoy running a long, long time.

Do you take time off running after a hard race?

How much time, and for what distance?

Have you ever regretted not taking time off running after a race?


Linking up with Zenaida Arroyo and Kim @ Kookyrunner

This week I am also joining up with Running on Happy, Suzlyfe, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs each week for the Coaches’ Corner linkup


24 thoughts on “Respect the Distance

  1. Ah, wise words, Judy! I remember my first marathon nearly 20 years ago. It was a disaster, I had no idea what I was doing. I had only ever run 20ish kilometers and thought I could easily take on 42k!
    Well, I had to learn the hard way that every distance needs its own specific training.
    The older I get, the more I rest after a race. After a marathon, I rest for 3 full days and then start very, very gently again.
    Nice photo of you at the finish line!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think most people don’t know what they’re doing the first time they tackle a longer distance. My first 8 mile race I had my first taste of IT band issues (didn’t know what it was) — if I hadn’t been already signed up for my first half, I might’ve given up on long distance running altogether!

      It’s normal to need more rest as we age. Everyone is different though!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wise words! The only time I’ve done this was for my half after my first marathon – I was egocentric and proud and thought o I can coast to that. Left off my yoga and stretching, didn’t train much (we’re talking August – October – too long to do that!) and then the half kicked my arse (quite literally, as I twanged a glute and had to walk a lot of it). Lesson learned!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s why I say doing an 18 mile race was not the same as being ready for a marathon. I was able to go on & run a half a month later, without really taking too much time off — that half didn’t go so well, but that was because of heat & humidity, not lack of training!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Well since I just ran a marathon I can tell you that if you can run 20, you can run 26.2.

    I’m no coach but everyone is different.

    Sometimes the mind is more important than the body.

    I’ve never regretted not resting after a big race. Even it caused an injury. Because you never know if it did.

    I’ve felt better only running 10 miles before a half than ones I ran 12. Every race is different.

    Running is hard. But so unpredictable.

    We just need to enjoy the experience more. Sometimes that means taking risks. Sometimes that means being cautious.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would rather take the necessary rest after a big race than overtrain and get injured — that always takes longer to recover from.

      As you point out, though, we are all different. Every body is different.


  4. I think that respecting the recovery is also super important, especially after a marathon. I have no idea how people can run back to back marathons. I don’t even want to run at all for at least a week after lol

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wise words we all need to listen to….especially the part about listening to your brain LOL I do a lot of back-to-back races, but I’m not blessed with a competitive “in it to win it” drive. I can “run” a race and be satisfied if I don’t give 150% effort. Sometimes that bites me because I don’t always finish with a time that reflects my true ability, but if I can finish happy (and uninjured), it’s a victory 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I don’t think 18 miles is a far cry from a marathon. 18 miles is a lot! And I do believe if you can do 18 miles you can run a marathon. Just saying. But it’s all about what you want and how much you’re willing to train for it. Not everyone wants to run a marathon, and that is okay.
    I totally agree that recovery is important and you should listen to your body.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do know people who run marathons and don’t even go up to 18 miles. And especially for me, as a slower runner, there comes that trade off between miles & time — 20 miles would most likely take me over 4 hours. Your body takes a big hit when you do that!

      I was going through a very stressful time when I ran that race. Unfortunately, the stress has only increased since then!


  7. There’s a big difference between being able to run a certain distance and being able to race that same distance. Sure, I can run a 5k and do so several days a week and then some but to truly race a 5k, I would feel the need to train at least a few weeks if not a month or so in advance.
    I always like to take one day off running for every mile the race is, so 2 weeks for a half marathon is my norm. I have broken that rule but have always taken at least 1 week off if I wasn’t able to take 2 weeks off (because I had 2 races close to each other).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Totally agree that racing is very different than just running.

      I used to take more time off after races when I first started racing. I do believe that our bodies adapt to distances, but the first time? That takes a lot out of you, whether you realize it or not!


  8. I always try to take time off after a race. I am tired. My body is tired. 🙂 I know I questioned myself in October about running the Detroit Half Marathon. It wasn’t horrible but it took me a long time to recover. I felt like I had just run a marathon. I have another race at the end of February in Atlanta and while I am not ready for it now, I still have a few more weeks to train. Getting sick at the beginning of the year did not help.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I have always been diligent about recovery after a big race. This year has been very different for me because I wasn’t able to take any distance for granted. I definitely learned to respect the distance–the half, especially.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Do you take time off running after a hard race? No since I felt good after races.

      How much time, and for what distance? The longest was a half and we ran 6 miles the the 2nd day after.

      Have you ever regretted not taking time off running after a race? No since I haven’t run many races

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I have learned the hard way to respect all distances of running. It is easy to get sucked into running a distance that you are not trained for. I am usually pretty good about the recovery part it’s the training part that sometimes has me over doing it. I am currently struggling with what to do about that half race in 5 weeks that I have on my schedule

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I love that line about a real reward being a healthy, uninjured body! That’s so true. I keep reminding myself that’s the true goal. I kind of felt bad about not doing a half this past Fall but I know it was the best thing in the long run.

    Liked by 1 person

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