Ah. Listening to our bodies. Simple advice, yet hard to do sometimes, especially when one is chasing a goal. It’s something I have dealt with myself over the years; my training is going awesome, I am nailing PRs and goals like it’s my job, and everything is rock solid. And then – BOOM – out of nowhere (not really, but we’ll get to that later) an injury strikes – one that takes me out of training for an extended period of time. It’s so easy to take for granted your health when things are going well, nothing hurts, and you can go about your training and every day tasks. You don’t give things a second thought…until your body makes you listen.
Funny thing is, as I alluded to before, aside from the case of a traumatic injury due to a fall or something similar, aches and pains rarely “just appear.” If you had been listening to your body, you’d probably find that prior to the injury you’ll have a little niggling pain here, or a tight area there. No big deal, right? It’s probably nothing.
Your body was talking alright, but were you listening? The Sarah of 15 years ago would have trained right through it (I am, after all, not too proud to admit I trained through a (unknown) stress fracture to my pelvis, because really, it was probably a groin pull and I knew I could train right through it. Umm…yeah. Ask me how well that worked out for me.) The Sarah of today (a little older, hopefully a little wiser) knows that “training through it” – in 99.9% of cases – is a very. bad. idea. Yes, it’s hard when you have goals and your the body is out of balance and in pain…but when your body talks, it’s so important to take the time to listen.
That is the case I am in now. About two weeks ago I started feeling a pain at the top of the foot, near the 2nd metatarsal, in the dreaded region a lot of stress fractures present. Rather than training through it – proving nothing to anyone, except my own stubbornness, and possibly making a bad situation much, much worse – I immediately stopped my running. I took two full days off, and then only cross trained as long as no pain was present. I consulted with both my Chiropractor and then my family care practitioner, who was able to rule out a stress fracture. Foot is feeling almost back to 100%. And while it’s driving me crazy not to run (and subsequently my hubby due to my whining) the smartest thing I can do is honor and listen to my body. What is 2-3 weeks off from running (and instead taking an intelligent approach to my cross training) in the big scheme of things? Rather than limp along in pain – which is NEVER fun – for weeks, wondering what is wrong, I am nipping this in the bud. I know I am training smart and I have plenty of time to be ready for my Fall races. A few missed training runs will not make or break my success. In fact, the period of cross training is both good for me, and reminds me to stay on top of my self care (stretching, SMFR, massage, and balancing weak areas) something I admit I have been a little remiss at yet which is imperative to me reaching the starting line healthy and happy.
What about you? Do you take the time to really listen to your body and heed the warning signals it sends you? Easy to agree with, but harder to do, that is for sure!