Our Training Plan says Yes, Our Body says No.

April 27, 2018

By Nick Whitbread

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When we sign up for a race we create a timeline for our running fitness. We are no longer looking to just feel great when we run, we want to hit a certain level of fitness at a chosen time. This can be a great source of motivation and at the same time can be our undoing. 

We have discussed in a prior post our feelings about training plans. They offer structure, routine, accountability. They help avoid decision fatigue and ultimately serve us well in our running. That is until they don't. 

The great thing about training plans is they tell us exactly what to do and how to do it. The bad thing about training plans is that they don't discriminate. They don't know that we are sick, that we went out last night and had a few too many drinks. Our Training plan doesn't know that we felt a little tight after our last run and maybe we need a day off. Basically our training plan though usually super helpful can also be a dic$ if we let it. 

If your anything like Me (Nick), You take pride in keying the distance that You ran today into the spreadsheet (we all have spreadsheets right? #typeapersonality). It feels good. Like ticking a box. Run for today, done! The flip side of that can be the feelings that creep up when you don't finish or even start a run in your plan. Let alone if you are injured and you can't run. Maybe you feel anxiety that time is running out and you won't be fit on race day or that you won't be able to put forward your best performance. Maybe your worried you won't finish. Perhaps you worry about what others will think of you. Even worse maybe you are unable to run period, and then you begin to question who your are without running.

Right about now you need a good slap in the face. Thankfully our bodies are there to do that for us. As long as we are in touch with them and listen to what they have to say. Your body is an amazing thing. It has built in self defence mechanisms to ensure our survival. Historically we needed to move to live. We had to move to get food, find shelter, escape prey. All things vital to our survival. In short if we hurt ourselves and couldn't move we risked perishing. Pain, soreness, tightness, aches, these are all ways that our body gives us feedback so that we can make the most appropriate decisions for our survival. 

Today most of us choose to move, usually for our enjoyment. In this scenario it's ok to hurt ourselves. Food is easily accessible, we have cars to get around and friends and family to take care of us. This makes the decisions we make about how we treat our bodies different. We tend to be less in touch with exactly what our bodies are telling us. Even when we are in touch with our bodies sometimes we just don't listen. 

Our Training Plan is a ruthless dictator, Our body is an empathetic supporter of our wellbeing. At different times we need to listen to both. When we are supposed to run but are feeling lazy and just want to "Netflix and chill", we need our Training Plan to yell at us to "get out on those trails and move our bodies!". Inversely when our body lets us know that it needs a day or more off, more sleep, to take this run easy, it's ok to walk, we need to listen, comply and feel ok about it. We could turn up race day having done every training run in our plan. If we feel burnt out, we're hurt, we're just not excited about running, well we have lost before the race has even begun. There is no better feeling on raceday than feeling healthy, even if you are a little undertrained. People do amazing things on race day. Better to arrive there in good health ready to have a good run. 

If you don't have a good handle on what your body is telling you there area lot of great great ways to get more in touch with it. Yoga and meditation are probably the two most common. A simple exercise is to sit comfortably or lie on the floor. With your eyes open take ten or so deep breathes in and out and then close your eyes, allow your breathing to return to normal and imagine a thin beam of light beginning at the top of your head and ever so slowly scanning down to your feet. Just breathe and take notice of anything you might notice or feel. You don't have to start a dialogue in your head about it. Just notice, make note of it ie. "oh, a little hip tightness", then continue scanning. When you reach your feet let go of the scan and just breathe until you feel like opening your eyes and moving. This technique if practiced can be handy in taking the time out that we don't usually make to check in with our body and hear what it has to say. Now we just have to listen to it. 

We all love running. It's easy to forget that running is something that we do, it is not who we are. We are no greater or lesser of a person because of something we can or cannot do. Even though we may allow ourselves to think that way from time to time. We run because it brings us joy, it allows us to go on adventures and experience nature and because it brings us together. Lets remember that

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Thunder Bay, ON, Canada

UPRIVER RUNNING | EST. 2016