If you are an avid runner or training for a race, you might have a hard time telling yourself to sit it out once in a while. Those who hit the pavement even when their body is saying “No,” not only run a high risk of injury, they might be overtraining. And, overtraining can lead to a degradation of the immune system and predispose runners to frequent infections and injuries. If you are making these “overdoing it” mistakes, you are doing your running objectives, and your body, a disservice.
Most people have high ambitions when it comes to running a race such as a marathon. But, jumping in too quickly or overdoing it by not giving it a rest, often leads to giving up. Instead of starting at 5 miles after sitting idly on a couch for years, start with walking. It might take you more time to get where you want to be. But, you will get there a lot more healthy, a lot less taxed, and in reality, probably in the same amount of time if you count out injuries and sick days from trying to go all out too soon.
The first place people usually head to, to set a running plan for themselves is either to the internet or another runner for advice. Unfortunately, not everyone is the cut out to train the same way. It might be that other people can go from couch to 5k in six weeks, but if that is not what your body can handle, it won’t be able to.
If you put an expectation on yourself guided by someone other than you, you might be setting yourself up for failure. Your body will tell you when you are overdoing it, when it needs a break, or even if it needs to back it up a bit. Listen closely, your body will never lie, and it knows you better than an internet article.
Don’t try to keep up with the Jones’ right out the gate. It doesn’t matter if a high school mate can do a mile in 7.5 minutes. If you aren’t there and you try too hard to go too fast, you run the risk of injury. Everyone has a natural gait that determines how fast you go. It isn’t that you can’t get faster; it just might take you longer than you hope to get there. Or, it might be that fast is not your “thing,” but endurance is. Set your goals to beat yourself not someone else.
If someone says to you it is going to take about 12 weeks to get where you want to be to run a marathon and you think “No way I am going to get there in 8,” you might be setting the bar too high and trying to attain the unattainable. What that type of thinking leads to is giving up quickly out of sheer frustration or being injured. It is okay to have lofty goals as long as you aren’t setting yourself up for failure.
When you run, you naturally use all the same muscles, but that doesn’t mean that you can ignore the rest. If you don’t let your body rest from running and focus on other areas through strength training on your days off, you are probably headed for a repetitive injury. Things like core and upper body strength exercises are an excellent way to increase your running time, stay healthy, and on track and to avoid injuries that can derail even the best intentions.
When you start out doing something new, there is a pep in your step and a commitment in your heart. Each day, if you aren’t getting the rest you need to recoup, that pep will slowly be replaced by exhaustion and eventually a dislike for the very thing you used to love. If you are becoming impatient with reaching your goals, and think that it is time to speed things up and really hit it hard, it is probably time to do the opposite. Not reaching your goals in the time you set isn’t a failure. You should consider it a time to rethink, readjust, and maybe give yourself a break, not rev it up more.
That adage “No pain no gain” did not come from an orthopedic surgeon. Sure, running is going to be uncomfortable at times, and there will be days that you want to strap on your shoes and days when you absolutely don’t.
But, if the day comes where you back is screaming at you, your calve muscle is unbearably tight, or your hamstring feels like someone wound it to excess, that is not the day to push through the pain and head out for a run anyway. One of the things that the most successful runners have in common is that they are in tune with their bodies and know when it is time to say enough is enough and to take a rest for a day, two, or even a week.
If you continue to push yourself even past extreme boredom, that can come with doing the same thing, every day, not resting, and not changing things up and ending up overdoing it. If that happens, the solace and runner’s high that you used to enjoy so thoroughly, will no longer be a high. In fact, your run will be the low of the day. Try a path less traveled, even if it means going slower or shorter.
Try a new playlist to energize you, or even purchase a pair of running shoes that give you a little more zip. The only way to fight burnout is to not let yourself get burnt out, and doing those things that make your heart and your feet sing enough to want to hit the trails hard, will keep you going.
Running is one of the most addictive and enjoyable exercises that there is. If you take it slow, listen to your body, and don’t overdo it, you can run for a lifetime. If you hit it too hard, don’t listen, or get burnt out, you will soon feel like the magic is gone. And, you don’t want that! Learn to slow it down, take a rest, and not try so hard to be something or someone you are not. Just be you, your lovely running self.
Check out World Marathons to see what your next running goal is. Once you commit, start a running program that is realistic to get you physically where you want to be in time for race day!