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Listen to Your Body. To Run or Not to Run?

By September 30, 2017March 25th, 20234 Comments

Every athlete experiences ups and downs when training for a running race, such as a 1/2 marathon, marathon or ultra marathon. Some days everything in your body and mind aligns and your run feels great, while other days the same distance and pace can feel like a struggle.

There are a variety of aspects that can impact your performance and your perception of effort. On the surface you might look at your current fitness, recent training volume or lack of sleep, however many other secondary factors can impact your performance.

Running injuries are no bueno

In this video I talk about my personal experience with listening to your body. I’ve been out of it for the past few weeks for several reasons, including a recent fall while running and an injury on my ear from surfing. We discuss how to listen to your body better to recognize specific signals, and how to adjust your training and mindset to optimize your long term performance.

Running injury from a recent slam while trail running

Last week I fell while trail running and my knee feels a bit off

This week I decided to pull out of the Long Beach marathon that I’m supposed to run next week and I’m happy I made this decision. I already qualified for the Boston Marathon in September therefore, I have no need to risk a potential injury on a race I’m not ready for.

Don’t be too hard on yourself!

Athletes are often very hard on themselves and this includes me as well. This video talks about being kind to yourself and asking yourself the question: “how do you feel?” I mean, how do you really feel and be honest with yourself. If you recognize a negative energy field within for one or more days, see what changes need to be made in your training volume, intensity, build up, personal life, work life, nutrition, etc. My Strava account for this week shows a total of 7 miles / 11km and that’s ok. Some weeks we have the wind in the back and all the workouts feel great, other weeks every run might feel like a challenge. Pause from time to time to listen to your body, if needed adjust your training and racing plans and you’ll become a much happier, healthier and faster athlete.

Weekly giveaway! 

Congrats to last weeks winner Brent Keller, he won 2 pairs of Stance Running socks. I use Raffle Copter to randomly select a winner. This coming week you can win an epic running hat from Path Projects, you can pick your favorite color and style. This company launched just a few weeks ago and I am a huge fan. I don’t run with hats often because most are uncomfortable, however this is my favorite hat, keeps your head cool and doesn’t itch.

Question on the week: how do you listen to your body in training and life? Also, how do you adjust your training? Please let me know in the comments below. 

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Floris: Hey, what’s up, guys? It’s Floris from extramilest. Today, I want to talk about the importance of listening to your body and about the importance of sleep as well because they go hand in hand. Some days, you might notice that your runs are going really, your workouts go very smooth, and the perception of everything is that it goes well. It kind of feels like you’re running with wind in the back even though you might not have wind in the back. Other days, it might all seem like a struggle. You might feel that it’s hard to get your shoes on, it’s hard to get out of the door. Even once you’re moving, it’s just not really going the way it is.

Well, that kind of happened to me this week as well. I ran a Sub 3 Hour Marathon five weeks ago. For some reason, I had a pretty good recovery, took it easy, and then wanted to start picking it up again. I’ve just been feeling quite sluggish. Last weekend, I went on an 11-mile run and fell very hard on my leg. You could still probably see the little scab going on over there. Leg has been kind of bugging me this weekend or this whole week, tried to go on a 20-miler on Sunday and that really didn’t go according to plan. I can partly blame my leg. I was mentally not really there. I think it also has to do with sleep, and so I was already hesitating, “Shall I still run the Long Beach Marathon that I have coming up in eight days or shall I pull out?” I was kind of in defense.

This morning, I went for a surf session. One of the first waves I caught, I actually fell forward, fell flat with my head on the water. My ear popped. It was one of those and I ended up being out of balance. Just went to the doctor earlier and she told me now my ear is infected and I have to go on antibiotics. That was the final straw for me and it also showed me the importance of you can’t keep pushing yourself. This is probably why I have really like only running two or three races a year of real focus races. I signed up for the Long Beach Marathon a year ago or almost a year ago and decided that’s going to be my qualifier for Boston 2018, and then I realized that we actually just missed the cutoff because it’s in October. Last minute, I just signed up for a September marathon and ended up running that one.

Now, six weeks in between two marathons is far from ideal. I really think you have to go through a proper training cycle. For me, now with a combination of my leg being not optimal and also my ear not being the way it should be, I’m definitely pulling out of that race and just going to give myself some time to recover. Rest up a little and also get some sleep. I’ve definitely noticed in the last several weeks, I’ve not been sleeping much. It’s been busy at work. I have been working on some extramilest projects. I have been spending more and more time with the kids and the family.

Before you know it, you’re only sleeping five, six hours a night. Doing that consistently for a longer period of time, you’re starting to decrease your overall performance. If you’re reading up more and more about the importance of sleep lately, like seven to nine hours is definitely recommended. For athletes, putting in higher training weeks, you absolutely need more time to recover and you need a deep sleep, which often doesn’t happen much until the later cycles in your sleep.

I’m going to be a little less hard on myself, try to pull out of this race and that’s all good decision, and then get some more sleep, and then slowly start building up the miles again. Yes, I have Boston 2018 coming up. There’s the marathon. It will be an exciting race. I might do something in January that I’m looking at, possibly doing the Avalon 50 Mile Ultra, but I haven’t decided yet if that’s something I fully want to go for.

I want to go back to listening to your body for a little bit. When you’re running and you’re starting to feel some of that and you’re kind of out of it, that is totally normal. I have the same thing. If that happens for an extended period of time, definitely start to look at what are some of these factors that might impact that. Is that the lack of sleep? Is it your nutrition? Could it be additional stress? What else? There could be so many different things. Like the temperature’s changing right now. Sometimes it’s very hot, sometimes it’s less. Your conditioning, how far along in training psychology? How much training volume are you at? What is your intensity? How have you built it up? Have you build it up with more than 10% per week or are you actually gradually building it up and do you do enough step back as well?

Once again, I’ve noticed the importance of rest and recovery. So many athletes underestimate that part and I’m one of those athletes as well. I’m going to be focusing more on the rest and recovery as well. At the other end, you have to put in your miles as well. It sometimes a bit of a fine line when we have a lot of things going on, but it is an important element of the training cycle.

I started working on a post this week and started writing and writing. Honestly, I didn’t get a chance to finish it. This is my one and only post for this week. It’s going to be my Saturday post. I’m trying to continue posting on Saturday. I’m honestly a little bit out of it and some days that happens. Rest, recovery, sleep, and not being too hard on yourself either. We are all doing this for fun. At the end of the day if you’re not having fun going through the training cycles, then you’re doing it wrong. That’s why I’m going to continue to listen to the body and absolutely feel you should do as well.

When I talk about listening to the body, there’s obviously many different ways that you can do it. I often just ask myself whether I’m running or even outside of running. How am I currently feeling? I’m trying to do that a few times during the day. How do I feel within? Do I feel everything is in line? Is my body and mind in line? Do I have positive energy going around? If you surround yourself with a lot of negative people, that really impacts how you feel. Sometimes I go through cycles as well that I feel very positive. Other times, I feel very negative.

There’s a few different aspects that impact that absolutely. That can be who you surround yourself with, how much stress you have in your personal and work life, your nutrition, your amount of sleep that you’re getting. There are so many different factors. When things feel out of line, not just for one run but for multiple runs and for multiple days, then it’s definitely time to analyze and take a step back for a second. “Hey, what’s going on? How can you possibly fix what’s going on?” From there on, you can continue.

Don’t be too hard on yourself either. I see a lot of athletes trying to stick with training schedules very rigid. That’s one thing I try not to do these days. When I feel I need a rest, I take a rest day. You’ll do more good with that than you will putting in a hard workout when you feel shit. However, that being said, you also want to put in your workouts and sometimes you want to push through some uncomfortable situations.

I tried to do that last Sunday. Last Sunday, I was tired and my leg was hurting. I fell on a trail run on Saturday, last Saturday, and then tried to go on a 20-mile run on Sunday. I felt uncomfortable. A few miles in, I started feeling uncomfortable. I remember I almost called my wife to pick me up after I was halfway done because I had a 10-mile back home. I decided, “Let’s just slow down the pace, just throw pace out of the window, and just jog it back slowly.” That was more to train my mind for a little bit because I think, especially in marathon and ultra training, training the mind is such an important part of this all as well. I just tried to do that and, eventually, I made it back home. The next few days, I was definitely out of it for a little bit.

Going over to see the answer right now to get some antibiotics. Hopefully, the infection in my ear will go away soon and then, yes, I can start excising again. Anyway, it’s a little bit of a different video this week. Sorry to sound like Debbie Downer over here, but everyone has their ups and downs and this was one of those for me this week. This is why I shared that with you as well because I can share all these great running videos, but I also have my ups and downs. Haha! This is definitely one of those. Listen to the body and we’ll be back stronger for the next one again. Thank you guys for watching and take care. Have a good one. Bye.



  • C says:

    I went back to work a year ago and am finding high level training and middle age + family + work just isn’t in the cards for me for this season of life. So I’ve backed off intensity and am feeling much better when I can run and like I can give what I need to to other areas of life. I struggled with trying to do both all last year but am finally “listening”.

  • Flo says:

    I fully recognize what you’ve experienced. High level training, middle age, in combination with family and work is a lot to take on. That’s also for me a reason that I run almost all my runs at a pretty low HR. When I finish a workout now, I feel I have energy left to enjoy these other areas in my life. Glad you found what works well for you. Thanks for sharing your experience and Happy Running!

  • Sean says:

    I’ve always tried to listen to my body to know the difference between too much and being lazy. This past year Ive gotten better at it, in May I started using the Maffetone Method of training. By paying close attention to my heart rate and keeping it in a low range for my runs Ive come to enjoy running. Ive had asthma all my life and now I feel like I’m breaking through to the next level! A marathon doesn’t seem so impossible now!

  • Anonymous says:

    What really helps me is the support I get from my wife and children. I’ve only been running now around four years. The first couple of years the family was wondering when I would get bored with running and move on to something else. Truth be told, early this summer I was getting bored and burnt out with running. Then I found out about the MAF method, and LCHF/Keto diets. When I applied the MAF heart rate to my workouts I felt great afterword’s. When I started cutting out carbs and sugars from my diet I felt amazing and lost weight! Now when those days come around that I’m a little tired and I’ve got a run to do, I just go out and do it. I start a little slower, and usually around mile 3-4 I get this surge of energy from my body using fat for fuel. My legs feel lighter, and my whole attitude changes in a blink of an eye. My family has seen this wonderful shift in my demeanor around the house and my wife has commented to me about that. This week will be my longest week at 45 miles. For me this mileage is probably the max. I am also responsible for getting one son to soccer and one of my daughters to softball. So it takes the whole house for me to be able to chase my new obsession. RUNNING!

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