When to Push, When to Give

After surpassing my mileage goal in January (I was aiming for 50 miles and finished with 56), I felt excited, strong, and ready to take on more. I have my eye on two half marathons in May – one of which I’m already registered for – and I want to keep my build going. So, I set a goal of 70 miles for February, a solid step up, especially for a short month.

The beginning of February saw the thaw of the polar vortex, and there are few things I love more than running outside in the warm air after an extended period of cold. I had already run the first three days of the month, but the 4th saw temps near 60 degrees, so I ran again, elated to be running by the river in just a long sleeve shirt and knee-length tights. And then it hit 70 degrees on the 5th, so I headed out again – in shorts and a tee-shirt just days after we had single digit temps!

So, I ran five days in a row. I congratulated myself for working hard, for pushing toward my goals. But, a quieter voice in my head told me I was being foolish, too aggressive. I don’t think I’ve ever run that many days in a row before. Granted, it wasn’t a ton of miles – 15 over the course of the five days – but I know my body, and I know that rest days are really important as I’m building up my endurance. Sleep is also really important, and I’d not been getting my eight hours a night for a few days.

The next day, last Wednesday, I did take a rest day. Well, a rest from running, anyway. I got up at 4:30 a.m. so I could leave the house by 5:30 and make it to my office by 8 for our staff meeting. I work from home, but go into my office every other week or so. Typically, this drive takes about an hour and forty minutes, but if I’m making the trip during the heart of rush hour, it can take far longer.

I was there until about 3, and then made the long drive home, again in the midst of rush hour traffic. I picked Zach up on the way, and we made it home a little after 5:30. When I took my ankle boots off, I felt a little twinge under my right heel. I didn’t think too much of it, though. I’d been in tights and boots for 12 hours – a big shift from what I usually wear – just socks when I’m working from home, or my minimalist Lems boots if I’m out, which give my feet lots of room to breathe. I figured I was just tired and needed to put my sweats on and stretch my feet out.

But, the next morning, my foot still hurt. And I started to panic. And yell at myself – for running five days in a row, for not getting enough sleep, for generally being stupid. I cannot be injured! I have big goals this year! I have a plan! I must not deviate from it!

I do really well with being patient when I start from ground zero with running, adding no more than a mile or 10% to my mileage each week. But once I get to the point where I’m running 15 miles per week consistently, I feel great, and I want to start ratcheting it up. I want to push harder.

I struggle with this a lot with running – when to push, and when to give. Actually, I struggle with this in my life in general.

When should I push through fatigue, discomfort, anxiety? Stay focused on my goals, no matter what? Get out of my comfort zone and work harder?

And when should I take a knee? Have a glass of wine and watch Mrs. Maisel? Go to bed early? Be gentle with myself?

It’s hard for me to decide the right path sometimes. Shutting out the noise and keeping in tune with myself helps. I’ve been working to establish a daily meditation practice since the beginning of the year. Typically, I get up before anyone else in the morning and meditate for about 10 minutes, or sometimes as little as five. I use the Insight Timer app, and it’s great. It’s hard to put in words how much this little habit helps me. It turns down (though not off) the chatter in my brain. It helps me to not be in “react” mode all the time. It allows me to recognize the signals my body sends me so I can heed them.

But, glorious spring-like days apparently override my body’s signals, making me run more than I should.

As my foot ached, I spent a lot of time Googling things like “how common are heel stress fractures?” But, my injury scare – thankfully – resolved itself after ice and rest. I took five days off running and was back at it with a short test run on Monday. The time off means I won’t hit my mileage goal for the month, but that’s okay. I’ll take it as a lesson learned – take it slow, don’t rush, stay in tune with myself, and listen. Rest is an important part of hard work.

Miles run today: 0 (rest day!); total for the year: 81.25

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

four × four =

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.