For two years, I would run nearly every day – at least four times a week. I trained for a half-marathon in the Summer and Fall of 2011, and ever since then, I have not enjoyed running as much. I joke and say that the half-marathon ruined my love for running, but in all honesty, I kind of think it did.
This past Summer was particularly stressful for me, as my father, who is also my boss, was sick, in the hospital, and out of work for over three weeks – during our busiest part of the year. Even though I was not all that into it or enthusiastic about it, I ran a lot to cope with my stress. I ran so much I wore out my latest pair of running sneakers. While researching what new pair to buy, I discovered that being flat footed, not only could I not find a good pair of running sneakers made for me, but it was actually recommended that flat footers DO NOT run due to increased risk for injury. Although I had not been injured physically, could over-running be the reason why I had lost interest and stamina in the activity?
I dusted off my bike and started riding around town and doing some off dirt trails. I took up Zumba. I swam laps in the pool. I managed to reduce my running to once or twice a week, but I felt exhausted whenever I did run. I had no endurance, and my paced slowed quite a bit. Frustrated with the direction I was headed and a bit fearful that I might injure myself, I decided to stop running.
By then it had turned cold outside, so I continued with the Zumba and started incorporating yoga back into my weekly activity. First once a week, then twice a week, then classes three times a week and doing postures at home on my days “off.” Yoga felt great. It helped me unwind and de-stress, provided me with the heart-pumping I craved, and tested the limitations of both my mind and body strength. My responded well to the yoga and wanted more, so I gave my body more yoga! The best part about yoga was that it did not exhaust me like other physical activity, but instead gave me more energy.
Then, this past weekend, I had the urge to run. I’m not sure if it was the sunny, crisp day, or the fact that I had some extra energy to burn, but I decided I was going to go for a run. I felt like my body needed it. Being Mid-November, I had only ran once since Labor Day weekend. I was a bit nervous at how my body would react, afraid that it wasn’t as strong as it used to be, but I have to admit it felt good putting on my running clothes and pressing play on iPhone running playlist.
The run started out great and I cruised right along. Before I knew it, my MapMyRun app chirped in my ear, “You have just completed one mile. Your pace is 9:45.” 9:45?! Seriously? But I haven’t run in two months! My pace during the Summer was always between 11:00 and 12:00 (I have never been a fast runner, but this Summer my pace was particularly slow). AND I felt great! I felt strong, powerful. My breathing was a consistent in and out, I wasn’t too much out of breath, and my form was nearly perfect. I finished the run strong, only having to walk a short bit after mile two, and completed three miles in seconds over thirty minutes.
I was overjoyed when I finished. I felt so proud that after taking so much time off, I had such a successful run! I ran into my driveway and announced to my waiting husband that I “totally killed it.” I strongly believe that a break from running is just what my body needed, as was replacing running with yoga. The yoga strengthened my body; my core, legs, and arms are all much stronger than they were back in the Summer. The yoga also re-trained my breathing; while I was running I focused a lot on my breathe and making sure to breathe in and out at a consistent basis.
My reason for writing this post is a simple one…. everyone needs to listen to their own body. As a health coach, I am always telling my clients to listen to their bodies, but even I need a reminder of this from time to time! If your body is saying you need to stop doing an activity because you are feeling exhausted, YOU NEED TO STOP. I am all for pushing yourself and working out, but you do not want want to push yourself too far – extreme fatigue and exhaustion are not something you want to mess with. If an activity is feeling good and giving you more energy, then THAT is what your body needs at that time. It is a simple theory really, give your body what it is asking for, but one we all seem to forget when we are caught up in our day-to-day lives.
Going forward, especially into the cold Winter months that lay ahead, I plan on continuing with my yoga practice at least three times a week. I love the way yoga makes me feel, and the results I’m seeing on my body. As for running, I will squeeze in a run whenever my body feels the need to do so and not put pressure on myself to get a run in!