3 Steps to Figure Out if You Should Run

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Niggle: a trifling complaint, dispute, or criticism

If you run, you’re going to get niggles. They’re those little aches and pains. They’re what crop up during the taper, making us doubt ourselves and wonder if we’ve injured ourselves. They’re those little pains you just can’t seem to shake — or the pain that starts out of nowhere.

Last week, the day before my long run, I suddenly felt some pain in my calf. Like the residual pain from a Charley Horse, which thankfully I’ve only experienced a time or two. Only I hadn’t had one. Oddly my hamstring had cramped up out of the blue that week, but my calf was fine.

So what’s a runner with a niggle to do?

Don’t pop that analgesic!
I almost never take anything for niggles. Analgesic mask the pain, which could mean you’ll run harder than you sure and deepen the problem.

What I do instead: I use Doterra Deep Blue Rub. Yes, it’s expensive, but it lasts me for years; you can get it from Amazon here (Amazon Affiliate link). You can also get it in single use packs, which I use for travel — order that from Amazon here.

I’ve tried a few other topicals, but frankly this is what works for me. Often I will also tape the offending body part, but since my compression socks covered my calfs (and that’s the second thing to do — compress!), I didn’t feel the need to tape.

Pay attention to your gait
Is the pain altering how you run? Are you limping? Are you shortening or elongating your stride? Are you changing how your foot strikes the ground? Any change in your gait is a signal to not run, and give it a couple of days of rest. At least one day of rest!

Pay attention to how you feel the day after you run
You might feel completely fine when you run. Endorphins are a wonderful thing — except when they’re masking the pain. If you’re limping the next day, or the pain worsens, you need to take a couple of days off of running.

Taking time off of running while you’re training for something is a pain. But sometimes it’s a bigger pain if you try to tough it out. Even taking time off of running when you’re not training for something can be difficult, because so many of us use running as our “therapy”. — Chocolaterunsjudy

Look closely. The knees are always taped for long races — it gives me peace of mind

Final thoughts
It’s never quite this easy, of course, to know when a niggle really requires rest and when it doesn’t. We runners are a stubborn bunch. If the pain continues and you’re altering your gait, with lingering pain the next day, it’s time to either give running a rest and/or seek some medical help (preferably someone who is well schooled in running, and won’t just tell you to stop running without getting to the bottom of the cause of your pain.

My personal motto is live to run another day. Unless I ignore all of the above, in which case it’s do as I say, not as I do. As for me, the calf pain disappeared as mysteriously as it appeared — and thank goodness for that!

When do you know that it’s time to take some time off of running?

Is it easy or hard for you to take time off of running?

What do you do when you’re sidelined from running? 

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Linking up with Zenaida Arroyo and Kim @ Kookyrunner

This week I am also joining up with the new Runners’ Roundup linkup.

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Your First Race Questions Answered

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Your first race is both exciting and terrifying at the same time:

  • What if I have to walk; am I not a “real” runner?
  • What if I come in last?
  • What do I wear?
  • How early do I have to get there?
  • What if I need a pitstop?
  • What do I eat?
  • Where do I put the bib?
  • What if I fall?
  • What if I get lost?
  • What is a starting mat?
  • What is a corral?

Spoiler alert: there’s a really good chance that none of the above will happen. Even if it does, you might find that the experience was so fulfilling you want to race again — welcome to the club! Let’s take a look at some of your questions & fears:

What if I have to walk; am I not a “real” runner?
I have run a fair amount of races, and I almost always walk at some point. I am definitely a “real” runner. People get really hung up on not walking, but the truth is a short walking break can help you finish stronger.

What if I come in last?
Someone has to. Chances are you won’t, but if you do, you crossed the same finish line as everyone else and you should be very proud of yourself for having the courage to race.

This race outfit is truly tried & tested having worn it for my hot 18 mile race

What do I wear?
The same clothes you trained in. I highly recommend check out Skirt Sports here (yes, I’m an Ambassador). I also highly recommend that you don’t wear anything cotton. And dress for about 10-20 degrees cooler than the actual weather, because you’ll get warm quickly when you race. If it’s cold before the start, consider putting something over your top that you can take off and just leave by the side of the road before the start. Sometimes it will still be there when you finish, but you can’t count on that, which is why it’s referred to as a throwaway. Some races actually collect all the throwaways and donate them.

How early do I have to get there?
I like to get to a race at least an hour before the start. There’s parking to deal with, and you will almost certainly need to visit a bathroom (if you’re lucky, a portapotty if you’re not) — maybe multiple times.

What if I need a pitstop?
Most races have a portapotty at some of the aid stations along the route, but shorter races may not. Make sure to read the instructions closely so you know what will be available.

What do I eat?
Like what to wear, you should eat the same foods you ate before your runs while training. You did train, right?

Notice the variety of ways to wear a bib, including on your leg

Where do I put the bib?
Races provide you with safety pins. You pin the bib to either your top (in the front!), or some people like to pin it to their bottoms. I like to use a race belt so that I don’t have to put pinholes in my clothes.

What if I fall?
It happens, although for most of us it’s relatively rare. If you’re can’t go on, try to find a volunteer — at the very least get out of the way of other runners! Even if you do fall, chances are you can finish, so just pick yourself up and continue. If your gait  (how you run) is altered (you’re limping), or you’re in pain, walk instead of running — you will only injure yourself further if you run with an altered gait.

What if I get lost?
It’s very unlikely that you’ll get lost, unless it’s a trail race. Definitely study the course if a map is provided (which also helps you to know where aid stations and portapotties might be located).

If you happen to get lost and you can’t figure out where to go — this is another reason to always run with a phone! I’ve never been lost in a road race so far, although I’ve wondered a time or two if I was. I have taken a wrong turn in trail races, but so far nothing overly dramatic.

What is a starting mat?
Under the start line there is usually (but not always) a rubber mat. That mat reads the chip (most likely on your bib these days) and that is how your start time is captured. Sometimes there are mats at midway points during the race, which would show you your “splits” (a segment of a race, for instance the 5k time, or midway, in a 10k).

There is also usually a mat under the Finish Line. In fact, there are often two. This records your finish time; the reason there are two is just in case one of the mats fails.

This is what happens in a chip timed race (which is most, but not all, races today). So if you start late, it doesn’t really matter, because your chip will be read when you start and finish.

What is a corral?
Some races are so big that they only release a certain amount of runners at a time, which helps to decrease runner congestion on the course.

If your race uses corrals, you will be assigned a corral. You can always move back to a slower corral, but if you want to move forward to a faster one, you usually have to put in a request. Some races really enforce corrals; many do not.

There’s also a possibility of a wave start. It’s basically the same thing as corrals, only there is a wait time between waves before the next wave is released. With corrals you just start moving forward as soon as the race starts, with the first corrals, which should have the faster runners, crossing the start line first

You’re going to do great
No matter how the race goes, as long as you finish, you did great. It’s a PR (which stands for Personal Record). You’ll learn a lot. Hopefully you’ll have some fun, but sometimes those first races are too stressful to really enjoy. It may not change your life — but it probably will, as I wrote about here.

I hope I’ve answered some of your questions and fears about your first race. There is a lot more that goes into racing than meets the eye!

What was your first race?

What do you wish you’d known then?

What other first race questions do you have? 

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Linking up with Zenaida Arroyo and Kim @ Kookyrunner

This week I am also joining up with the new Runners’ Roundup linkup.

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My Worst Injury

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I have been somewhat lucky when it comes to injuries. Oh sure, things have niggled. They’ve been achy. They’ve even been somewhat painful. For the most part I’ve been able to keep on running through those aches and niggles. Except one.

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My post race photo. Proof I can smile for the camera no matter how bad it is.

The Perfect Race?
I remember the weather on the day I ran my half marathon in Rhode Island. It was just perfect: beautiful blue skies, not too cold or too hot. I lined up with the rest of the runners full of hope — despite the fact that a mysterious pain had sidelined me from running a couple of weeks before the race.

I was relatively new to running, and relatively new to running half marathons. This was my fifth half. I knew I felt pain when running as I entered my taper, and I didn’t know what to do (nor did I have the village I have now) so I just stopped running, figuring my training was done and rest would solve everything.

Which seemed to be working; for the first six miles. Then things got painful. Then things got really painful. By mile 10 I was walking. It’s the only half I’ve run so far (knock on wood) where I’ve had to walk the last few miles. It’s also the only half I’ve ever phoned Mr. Judy during — to let him know I’d be far, far later than expected.

I did finish. We went on to Cape Cod, where we’d rented an AirBnB (and we had the dogs with us). We were near the famous Sundae School Ice Cream shop, but I was in too much pain to join Mr. Judy when he went for his ice cream sundae. I curled up on the couch with Chester as my heating pad.

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Walking was sill painful (post race). Running — forgaadaboutit.

What went wrong?
I know now that it was an IT Band injury. Here we are 7 years later, and I feel like I am just now getting back to the paces I was running back then. Which are not particularly fast. I thought I had trained smart, but clearly I did not.

The minute it was too painful to run I should have sought help: from a chiropractor, from a physical therapist, from a running coach. Even though I trained with a group with coaches in the summer, it was not our training season and it didn’t occur to me that this was an injury.

I should not have run that half. I know many people say they are happy that they completed a half, no matter the pain, but it left me in pain while running longer distances for months. I came very close to giving up on running longer distances all together. I do not think running through an injury when it leaves you unable to run without pain is the right choice — but hindsight is 20/20.

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Same jacket, much better results!

How did I fix it?
I started out by wearing a knee brace, once I’d figured out what was wrong. Notice that I still didn’t seek out professional help — which of course would have helped. I was lucky; I only took a couple of weeks off running. Running was painful after just 3 miles when I did start running again Although I was running with my group again that Summer, I didn’t sign up for a half initially because long runs were still painful.

Finally I ran 7 miles without pain. I signed up for Smuttynose Rockfest, which billed itself as one of the flattest halfs in New England. Which is true. Which is also not to say that it’s flat.

Still, on a rainy, raw, cold day I had my redemption half and a shiny new PR to boot. I discovered KT Tape (and eventually Rocktape) before the next half, which wasn’t a PR, not even close — but it was pain free. I have taped for every half since then, 6 years ago. There have been other niggles and aches, but so far, knock on wood, my IT Band stays pretty quiet.

Of course I have also worked on strengthening my glutes and hips. I’m a dedicated foam roller. There’s never just one thing that gets you through an injury. I learned my painful lesson from that disaster of a half, and I have sought out Chiropractic help and on occasion Physical Therapy for other niggles and aches before they derailed my training. It truly does take a village to race for most runners.

Run through the pain or live to run another day? It’s a highly personal choice. Don’t listen to the people on the Internet telling you you can do it — they don’t know you, and they don’t know your body. Only you know what the right decision for you is. — Chocolaterunsjudy

Final thoughts
Running through an injury is a personal decision. For some people it’s worth the pain. I’d rather live to run another day, rather than risk serious injury. I want to keep running the rest of my life. I still have many states to run in.

What was your worst injury?

What did you do to help heal it?

What was the longest time you had to take off running due to injury? 

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Linking up with Zenaida Arroyo and Kim @ Kookyrunner

This week I am also joining up with the new Runners’ Roundup linkup.

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Stronger Every Day: January 2020

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Looking through songs with Strong as a theme (or in the Title) was surprising. Many seem to be about breakups, including this month’s song, for which I’m going old school with Chicago’s “Stronger Every Day” — the refrain spoke to me. Of course I love the song, and maybe break up songs are kind of appropriate, as I’m learning to let my father go to a better place — I wrote that last before my Dad had even passed away. It’s a great anthem, anyway!

Feeling stronger every day
(You know I’m alright now)

Running where & when I could

Getting in scheduled runs
Last week was understandably low on mileage, but movement is ingrained with me. Although I only got in 2 runs, I continued my step goal streak. My Garmin has my daily step goal low, about 7500. I averaged about 9700 steps a day last week, and some of them included walks inside the senior living community because it was so cold (or raining) outside.

Grade Earned:  A

Recording my runs
My new planner (Clever Fox, Amazon Affiliate link here) has definitely kept me more organized and more focused. It can still be a struggle to take the time to record my runs when I’m busy, but I’ve started out the year right. Well, until last week, when I completed stopped using the planner. I’m giving myself a pass on that for obvious reasons.

Grade Earned: A

Dynamic Warmup
There’s always some dynamic warmup. The duration varies, but something is always better than nothing!

Grade Earned: A

Foam Rolling
I actually brought my foam roller to my mom’s — and used it! There’s not a lot of space there, but my body thanks me when I use it.

Grade Earned: A

Tried to make healthy choices most of the time

Nutrition
Nutrition got better, but last week was a bit of a struggle. There were quite a few days with few healthy choices. As I said to Mr. Judy, I’m okay with the occasional not so healthy meal, but I don’t like a steady diet of it. I did bring food with me, which was very helpful, but there were days we were at my sister’s house, and I had to make the best choices I could.

Grade Earned: A-

Support

  • Massage? No.
  • Chiropractor Appointment? Still no.
  • Do I need a hair appointment? No, but I do need to book the next one.

Grade Earned: B-

Cross Training
I was getting back to more strength training, until last week, when there was none. I could definitely have done bodyweight exercises, or used the gym at my mom’s, but I walked and I did yoga and I called it a day. Most days were just busy, or emotionally taxing.

Grade Earned: B

January 2020  gets  . . . 
. . . a B+. I’m definitely not beating myself up. I did what I could, I was there for my family, and I tried not to push myself too hard. I rested when I didn’t feel well, and so far, knock on wood, I’m still feeling okay. Apparently I haven’t made any monthly goals since November, so I’m overdue.

Which leads me to February Goals:

  • Strength train 2 – 3x week. Definitely time to get back into strength training! Hopefully it can become more of a habit now that life is *hopefully* settling down.
  • Continue running 3 x week and maintaining my base. If I’m motivated, maybe I’ll add in a fourth day. My guess is that won’t happen anytime soon. I need some recovery time!
  • Start practicing at the Yoga Studio that’s close to me. I am hoping that now that life is a bit more normal, maybe I’ll either finally do some subbing or get at least one class of my own.
  • Foam roll when I’m able. Would love to foam roll at least occasionally on days that I don’t run.
  • Continue to try to eat intuitively — unless the weight starts to creep up. Although I’d love to drop just a little weight, I’m still maintaining fairly well.
  • Meal plan on the weekends! I was just getting back into it (back into a lot of things) when life took a turn again. Pretty sure I’ll get back at it with the help of my new planner and more time at home.

btuesdaytopics

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

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Would I run Boston . . .

. . . if someone handed me an entry?

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Thanks to Wendy @ Takingthelongwayhome for this blog post inspiration — check out her list of 60 Blog Post for Runners here. I may have to come up with my own list — if I can think of more; Wendy did a great job!

The Pros
Anyone that reads my blog for a while knows that I put a great deal of thought into most decisions. This one wouldn’t be an easy one.  So let’s start off with the good stuff:

  1. Mr. Judy grew up in Wellesley. It wouldn’t be that hard to twist his arm into going to Boston.
  2. Boston is within driving distance, which makes the logistics a bit easier to handle.
  3. Crowd support.
  4. Dave McGillivray, Race Director Extraordinaire.
  5. You may have to be fast to qualify for Boston, but the course stays open a long time.
  6. Bragging rights.
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Oy! The heat! The hills!

The Cons
If I ever run a marathon, which is something I put a lot of thought into, actually, I’d, well, put a lot of thought into it:

  1. The course. OMG, the hills! Obviously I’ve never run Boston. I did do the one and only Runner’s World Heartbreak Half — there I am in the photo above, drenched afterwards, from an unseasonably hot day and pouring water all over myself during the race. The course was partially designed by Dave McGillivray, and it tried to mimic Boston: start with a downhill, Newton hills (including Heartbreak) towards the end. I remember thinking to myself you have to deal with these starting at mile 20? Are you NUTS?????
  2. The weather. You truly never know what the heck the weather’s going to do: broiling hot or snowing, yup, it all happens.
  3. Training through Winter. I may run through Winter, and I have trained through Winter, but not all that often. There’s a reason for that — Winter is tough to run through in the Northeast!
  4. The crowds. I have done huge races a few times. I’m actually okay with big or small, but Mr. Judy is not fond of crowds. And I’m not fond of not being able to find my own running space.
  5. The expense. I don’t know how much Boston costs, but I’m guessing it’s a lot. Of course, someone is handing me this entry in this scenario, because it’s for darn sure I’m never qualifying on my own, but still.

If a dream doesn’t motivate you to work hard, to get up early and get to bed early, to sometimes make the hard choices between training and going out — maybe it’s not the right dream for you. — Chocolaterunsjudy

Final thoughts
It seems as though the pros outweigh the cons, but not by a lot. I have to admit it’s not something I’ve ever given a lot of thought to, because I’m not going to raise that many $$$ or qualify. It’s not my dream.

My dream for a marathon? I don’t really know. I still have that feeling that someday I’d like to tackle one. Right now is not the right time for maybe. Maybe it will never be the right time. Or maybe someday I’ll find my own running space in life and see just what is out there after 18 miles.

Would you do Boston if your entry was paid for and guaranteed?

What’s your dream marathon?

Do you think it would feel as satisfying if you didn’t have to qualify? 

btuesdaytopics

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

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The Trick to Reaching Your Goals

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A new year is all about new goals, right? Or maybe it’s just about the same goals but in a new year. Once you set those goals — how do you reach them?  There’s lots of talk about SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound).

I think the secret to your goals is even easier: baby steps.

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Take baby steps
You heard me: break your goal down into very small steps. Once you’ve done that, if you’re still having trouble working towards your goal, it just means your steps aren’t small enough. You need to break them down even more.

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Getting to the starting line is just the final steps in many baby steps

Let’s break down a race goal
Of course you’ll train differently for a 5k than you would for a marathon, but the basic steps to carry you to your goal are the same:

  • Pick a race and register for it.
  • If your race involves travel, book those plane tickets and make the hotel reservations. Early. Earlier than you think you need to do. I like to make sure my hotel has a refrigerator and microwave for those early race morning breakfasts (and leftovers!).
  • Get fitted for the proper shoes.
  • Either hire a coach or find a training plan (online, in a magazine, in a book, make your own).
  • Figure out when you have to start training for the race. I like to add in a couple of extra weeks to my training plan — life happens.
  • Put all the workouts on your calendar. This could be a digital calendar or a physical calendar — or both! Share with training buddies or significant others so they know when you will be available (or unavailable).
  • Also put any big events you’re aware of during your training period on your calendar. Think about how that event will effect your training. Decide how you’ll juggle the event with your training.
  • Make sure to book support appointments in advance: massages, chiropractic, fitness trainer.
  • Will you need a fresh pair of running shoes before the race? When will you buy them? Don’t wait til the last minute only to find out they’re not available in your size!
  • Test out your shoe, clothing, accessories like fuel belts or hydration vests, nutrition (if necessary), and hydration choices on your long (or longer, if the race is a shorter distance) runs.
  • Test out your pre-and post run meals on your long runs. If you’re traveling, look to see if you’ll be able to get similar meals near where you’re staying. What will you do if there are no tried and true options for you at local restaurants? If you’re staying local and you want to eat at a particular restaurant, consider making a reservation for that pre-race meal.
  • As the race nears, decide on your goals: finish with a smile on your face, run with a friend, crush a PR, enjoy the views? It’s your race, but knowing what you want out of it going into it can help you have a good time.

There are so many decisions that can go into a race, especially if you’re traveling for that race. There are so many steps to training. It can seem overwhelming in the beginning. Breaking down a large goal into easily doable steps will make it seem more doable, less frightening.

Breaking down a large goal into easily doable steps will take out so much of the pre-race anxiety and get you to the starting line feeling prepared. — Chocolaterunsjudy

Final thoughts: It works for all goals
Breaking a large goal into baby steps is the trick for reaching any goal: running, weight loss, career, getting stronger, getting more flexible. You name it and you can baby step your way to it.

Do you make goals and then never think about how to get to them? How does that make you feel?

What baby steps would you add to training for a race?

What are your goals — for 2020, for this month, this week? Please share!

btuesdaytopics

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

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Respect the Distance

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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?

btuesdaytopics

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

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