I’m an organizer. I like having everything “just so” and that isn’t any different when it comes to my yearly training schedule for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon half. I first ran this race in 2012 after doing plenty of research and carefully planning my training. I had never followed a training plan or conditioned myself for anything other than concert band contests in high school.
Physical training was completely different, but I knew that if I had a plan in my Google calendar, I’d follow it. So I organized my mileage and kept on running! I followed the plan nearly exactly, but took a long run off toward the end of March, as I felt my body reacting to fatigue. Tips hat to past K for great intuition. I deleted that run from my calendar and didn’t look back.
Fast forward to March 2015 and I’m still using that training plan. Recently, I felt fatigue mentally and physically take over my body, so I took a Sunday off without checking my calendar to know exactly what I was blowing off. I immediately felt runner’s guilt creeping in. By mid-morning on Monday, I was so bothered that I felt compelled to look at my schedule and see what mileage I had planned for the week. Turns out, I didn’t have anything planned for that skipped Sunday–I skipped that same Sunday run in 2012 and have every year. WHAT.
As the years have gone by, I’ve always skipped that same run in March because that’s what my calendar says to do; why would I question the almighty Google calendar?! Apparently I trust Google calendar and my body equally. This coincidence is a perfect example of how intuition and paying attention to what your body needs is so important. I knew during that first year of training that I needed to take a break, so I took one. The same thing happened this year without prompt from Google. With running, I’ve come to know my body better than I know…if that makes any sense. I’m obviously consistent in my ambition as well as my burnout and I need to listen to my gut as much as possible.
Now, I’m not trying to say I’m an expert at rest days (or running for that matter). I admittedly have gotten much worse about taking time off as I’ve gotten older and more involved in the sport. I’m stubborn, OK?! But I’m working on remembering this lesson:
Pay attention to your body!
If you’re feeling physical fatigue or mental burnout, take a break from whatever it is you’ve been doing. You may even have to schedule your rest day 3 years ahead of time, the guilt may have you feeling like you’ve been caught with your hand in the cookie jar (but really…I consumed plenty of Girl Scout cookies on that rest day…), and you might not realize it immediately, but that day off will really help you become stronger!