There’s absolutely no question that running is a difficult sport. Certainly, it’s extremely rewarding, but any long-term training program is a major undertaking requiring a significant commitment.
Take a look at what training is. Basically, it’s hard, physical work which essentially boils down to adding specific stresses to your mind and body over a certain period of time. By gradually adding miles, hills and speed to your weekly and long run total, your body eventually adapts and you will become stronger, faster and fit. It’s as simple as that.
Here at Texas Running Post, we’re all about encouraging folks to run, but there are days when going for a run can be a negative. Trying to run through these occasional “bad” days can be detrimental to your health and set you back. Recognizing when these times are and passing on a workout (or greatly modifying it) is important to remaining healthy and productive.
Here are several examples of when it’s best to avoid a run or cut back:
1. When you’re sick. The variety of illnesses can run the gamut from mild to serious, but generally if you have a fever, are listless or have body aches you should not run. There are some minor illnesses you can run through, such as a mild cold, but running through a severe illness that requires medical attention can be foolish and injurious. Besides, when you are sick your body needs all the energy it can muster to fight the illness. Give it a rest.
2. When injured. Some injuries are minor enough that allow you to train (although you may have to modify your workout), but you should not attempt to run through certain injuries. How do you know which ones? Certainly, any injury which causes pain when you’re not running is serious enough that running should never be attempted. If the injury elicits some degree of abnormal pain when running, this should also be taken as a signal that you shouldn’t run. Never try to run through pain. Instead, listen to what your body is telling you and if it’s telling you to rest, take a few days off. If you do and the injury isn’t severe, it may resolve itself with rest.
3. Mentally or emotionally distracted. When there is something else going on in your life that is emotionally draining, the last thing you need is a hard workout. You might be able to muster enough energy to run, but chances are you will just be going through the motions. A good run can often alleviate stress, but if you are already under heavy mental or emotional duress (due to work, family life, relationships, etc.,) it is often best to take a day off from running. The emotional stress may already have overtaxed your system and adding another layer of stress, such as a run, may be too much. Instead, go for a walk.
4. When other responsibilities come first. Let’s face it, running isn’t the most important thing in our lives. At least it shouldn’t be. Our families, job, school and relationships should come first. And sometimes those responsibilities become overwhelming and even a short run is too much time to take away from what needs to be done. If that happens occasionally, don’t worry about missing a run or two. A few missed workouts won’t matter in the big picture. But avoiding your primary responsibilities to go for a run, could have an impact on your life and others.
5. After a night on the town. If you have spent the evening drinking more alcohol than you should on 6th and wind up with a hang over, trying to struggle through a run is not a good idea. Alcohol dehydrates the body and has plenty of other negative effects. Trying to run through a rocking headache will only make you feel worse. Give yourself a day to recover from your late night. Rehydrate (hint: Try Gatorade) and when you feel normal again, your body will signal you that it’s OK to go for a run.
6. When you’re having a rotten, no good, bad day. It happens to all of us. Nothing seems to be working right in your life and all order seems to be crumbling. A good run could help, but more often than not it doesn’t. Give it a rest. Go for a walk with a friend. Read a book. Relax. Take a day off and tomorrow will be much better.
7. When you’re just not that into it. Some days are like that. You just don’t feel like running. You aren’t sick or injured, but going for a run feels like a chore. If that’s the case, maybe your body (and mind) are sending a signal that today should be a rest day. Maybe you’re physically and mentally tired and aren’t consciously aware of it. This is your body’s way of telling you to give it a break. If you don’t feel like running, don’t.
8. When the weather is extremely bad. If the weather is threatening to blow or it’s so inclement that going for a run would be dangerous, don’t even try. If there’s a thunderstorm brewing or we are under a tornado or flood watch or there is some other approaching catastrophic weather, going for a run is just plain stupid. Use common sense.