Life is like music; it must be composed by ear, feeling, and instinct, not by rule.

Monday, March 7, 2011

My body is talking and I'm listening . . .

Too bad it took me 3 years to learn how to listen to my body. It seems like a simple thing but it's actually a bit complicated and it takes time but once you figure it out, you can run forever and not worry about injuries. You first have to learn how to listen to your body, then you have to listen to what it's saying. Then, the final phase is understanding what it's telling you.

So how do you accomplish this? Well, I wish I had the simple answer but I don't. It takes deep reflection, concentration, practice and commitment. For me, my bare feet tell me a lot. Then, I had to break from my reliance on garmin's, iPod's and other gadgets which block the communications paths, that is, the message path from the body to the brain.

I run 6 days per week and take Tuesday's off but I'm taking today (Monday) off because my body told me yesterday and confirmed this morning that it needs to rest today. I'm coming off a couple 60 mile weeks and as a Masters' runner, I need to monitor how I react. I'm also coming off 4 good and hard speed sessions so all that combined means I need a rest day. But, here's the complicated thing. You have to understand the difference between when you need to push yourself and when you are truly fatigued and risk potential future injury. See, injuries generally don't happen immediately but they result from an accumulation of doing too much or doing something wrong.

I've identified the parameters of my injury threshold. Although I run about 60 miles per week, I generally limit my long run to around 80 minutes, 90 minutes top. But, yesterday I exceed that and pushed to close to 100 minutes and that's on top of a hard tempo run the day before and, again, the accumulation of back-to-back 60 mile weeks. So, I did 2 smart things. I stopped my long run as soon as I realized I was beyond the time I should be and my body started to tell me that with some slight tension in the right knee. Then, I took the day off today. It's only the morning and I can feel my body self repairing. Again, it's sad it took me 3 years to get here but I'm glad I arrived. My body is also telling me to have a reduced mileage week and I'm going to listen. Instead of a 60 miles this week, I'll carve back to 40-45 miles and then see how I feel at the end of the week.

Everyone has an injury threshold and once you understand your parameters, you will run without concern for major injury. Sure, it is very hard to take a day off but I remind myself what I felt like in the past when I was constantly injured (I'm 17 months of injury free running while running my hardest/fastest).



  1. Say "hello" to a more sensible and mellow Harry!



  2. Ah yea, it takes some of us (like me) longer than others to learn this critical lesson.

    How is everything Al?


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