I have a confession to make. I didn’t run yesterday. Even though there was 8 miles on the schedule. I played hooky. Now, for many of you, this might not seem like a big deal. But I follow my training plan pretty closely. I might shift some days around and such, but I never skip a run. It messes with my head too much. Part of the downsides of the distance runner mentality is often thinking that doing more, pushing through, working harder is better. But it really isn’t always.
My day Tuesday started at 5 in the morning and didn’t end until I got home after 10 pm from teaching. This day included some lovely lovely speed work on the treadmill. Boo. But I did get a chance to start catching up on Season 2 of Orphan Black. Woohoo.
After teaching, I’m always a bit wound up so I can’t just crash after I get home. So not going to sleep until 11 pm and then trying to drag myself up at 5 am yesterday to run 8 miles the next day seemed horrible. I knew I wasn’t going to have time to run until after teaching again last night, but I blew off Jen and the early morning run. I deluded myself into thinking that maybe I could squeeze in a little extra sleep and that maybe I would run after a very long day (that’s alot of maybe’s). I was obviously delusional. There were multiple attempts by some small humans to squeeze into bed, yells for food, and demands for attention, so while I got to stay in bed longer, it was far from any sort of restful sleep. Last night, I did get home earlier from teaching than the previous night, but I was still tired and my legs were tight. So I gave myself the day off. The horror!
Jen gave me her blessing, though. We’ve been talking about how tired we are right now at the peak of training. It’s alot to juggle–working, family, and marathon training (stupid families and jobs getting in the way of our running!).
And the myth of the modern woman is that we can do it all. (and I get it, I nursed my first kid through my dissertation defense). But we can’t, not unless we want to be institutionalized for a nervous breakdown, substance abuse, or for going on a rampage. We don’t like to talk about it, because that would mean we couldn’t handle it all. So we push harder, longer, get less sleep, reach out less, grind through the pain.
And like I said, the mixed blessing of the distance runner is the amplified tendency to do this on an exponential level. I mean, running for hours doesn’t sound appealing to most people and it definitely hurts. However, we are good at ignoring the pain to reach our goals, and it often works for us. Except when it doesn’t. At some point, after enough injuries, enough crash and burns, enough midnight binges of cookies and coffee (oh wait, is that just me?) we have to recognize what our breaking points are. When it’s time to listen to our bodies and forgive ourselves for being human. For being made of skin and blood and not diamonds and steel.
My friend Kat is wrestling with some serious IT band pain a month out from her first marathon, and she really wants to push through it. I get it. I ran my first marathon through IT band stuff, against the advice of my PT. I looked ridiculous as I cobbled together a gait that reduced the pain incrementally (imagine a running version of the gif below) and it took me hours upon hours to finish.
I’m lucky I didn’t permanently hurt myself, and I didn’t run for 4 months after. 11 years out, I am beginning to realize that there’s a long-view. I want to keep running into old age–heck, I want to run through the rest of the year. If we push ourselves now and don’t listen to what our bodies are telling us–to back off a bit–they might rise up and go completely on strike. So taking one 8-mile run out of the hundreds this training plan entails, won’t hurt me. If anything, I could probably use the extra sleep, stretching, and rest day.
Listen to your bodies. Be kind to yourselves. The world is hard enough as it is without us beating ourselves up further.