When to Fold ’em

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Excited to find that one of the holiday parties was serving my favorite dessert – bread pudding!

Today was one of the blah-est of blah days that I have experienced in quite a while.  I’ve known for the last few days that I needed more rest and I was planning on getting around to resting… this evening.  Unfortunately, the multitude of holiday gatherings and the end of semester stressors combined with less than optimal sleep and hard workouts forced me to rest earlier than planned.

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The third holiday party of the season, I attended this running community gathering with my one of my favorite training buddies!

I tried to get up for my morning ride but I felt terribly and I knew that going for a 2 plus hour ride would not have good results.  I sat this one out, I slept and I ate well and I felt well enough by the afternoon to do my strength training and ride the trainer for 50 minutes. Tomorrow is a new day and I plan to treat it as such!

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My faithful, fluffy puppy enthusiastically supported my decision to gain additional rest, today.

So, in the spirit of knowing when to say when, I’d like to share some advice from my friend, runner and doctor.  Sam helped me get back to running quickly after injury and even came in on a Sunday to have my foot x-rayed when my clumsy butt broke my toe!  Anywho, I asked Sam a few questions and here are his responses!

Q:  How do you when you’re really injury versus just experiencing the normal pain and soreness of high intensity workouts?

R) At all times, listen to your body. If you are feeling tired or defeated, it will tell you that you can push on. But when the pain is not the “normal” pain of competition and effort, when the pain threatens, listen to your body.

We all have races or training runs where we “push through the pain.” This pain is that mystical envelope that separates our effort from ultimate success. The mental skills needed for this are determination, transforming the progess of the race into a sense of control of one’s effort, and visualizing the finish as achievable. This all hinges, however, on realizing that the “pain” referred to here is the feeling that the demands of the race place you in an increasingly uncomfortable position but one which will not cause harm. It is the “pain” of sustaining the effort. This is not the same as the pain of an impending injury. The pain of effort is a general feeling, a “gestalt” in philosophical terms, and can be described only as your own personal experience. The pain of injury is localized, pinpoint, tangible, you can “put your finger on it,” and others know exactly what you mean. You can sustain your running through the pain of effort and intensity, but the pain of injury nearly always impairs your perfomance and, if ignored, will bring you to a halt. Don’t ignore injury pain. A properly recognized injury is an injury from which you can eventually recover and return to running.

Q:  How do you recommend people manage the frustration of halting training or skipping a workout to manage or prevent injury?

(R) Balance out the short term gains with the long term picture.

Know what is at stake when you think you might have a running injury. It is difficult to sit out a race that you paid a registration fee and for which you committed time, effort, and emotion to train. We invest a lot of ego into the outcome of that race, whether it be a chance for a PR, an age-group placing, a chance to earn recognition for completing a target number of races. We always hear about the runner who “leaves it all out there,” but is that really what is wanted if the cost is losing the capacity to keep running beyond the race at hand? Nobody wants to DNF, “did not finish.” If any doubt that you are hurting and breaking down, better to DNS, “did not start,” and go find out what’s wrong. If you have to take time off from running due to an injury, keep the long term goal in view to guide you through the frustration of being sidelined. Be patient, there will be more runs and more races for you in the future

Well, here’s to a good night’s sleep and a new day!