Monday, February 28, 2011

When Your Body Talks, Listen.

If my body had a voice, it would be asking for a vacation.  No, begging for a vacation.

My body is just plain angry with me.  Every run has been tough and unenjoyable.  Every single one, since the Surf City Marathon.  I took 6 days off after the race.  But, I got right back into the swing of things after those measly 6 days.  My pace is noticeably slower than usual.  My muscles are unusually fatigued, tight and tender.  My shin throbs, my Achilles screams and even the bones in my feet hurt. 

Every long run leading up to Surf City was highly anticipated.  I would look forward to running all day, every day.  It was fun!  I think I smell serious burn-out coming on.  I feel more dread about long runs than excitement and to me, that is a sign that I need to back off.

Yesterday, we set out for a 15 mile trail run.  Angela took us to this amazing place way out in Ramona.  I felt like we entered another state, even another country.  There wasn't anything in sight for miles upon miles.  The roads were windy and the hills towered above us, high in the sky. 

Snow-capped mountains in the distance.  Isn't that crazy?

We started off on a winding trail, completely off the beaten path.  The solitude of this trail brought about instant peace.  I felt like I could suddenly breathe deeply.  The fresh, clean air was infiltrating my nostrils in such a lovely way.

Quickly, things went from peace, love and happiness to swear words and frustration.  We had reached the stream that our trail running book had mentioned.  Due to the rain over the last few days, the stream was much deeper than usual.  The cement walkway was covered in water.  There was no way to cross.  I even tried to conjure up a way to create a raft that would help us get across.  No cigar. 

Our serene run in the great outdoors had ended abruptly.  We had 15 miles to complete and only managed to knock out 2 1/2.   Shoulders are nonexistant on the roads of Ramona so there was no way to run safely from there.  My spazztastic ways led Angela to drive us all the way back home to Hillcrest.  I wouldn't want to run with me either.  I had some serious attitude about running yesterday.

This is the problem.  Training runs feel like more of a job than a hobby right now.  I think I need a break from devoting my Sunday's to long runs.  I feel pressured to run a certain number of miles and I need to let that go for awhile. 

I finished up my run on the treadmill last night at the gym.  While watching the Oscars, I gave some serious thought to this upcoming trail marathon.  I decided that I will give myself another week or two to decide whether or not I will be running.  If I continue to dread training runs, then I will be back out in an effort to avoid long-term burn-out.  I do not want to be a quitter, but my body is telling me something.  I feel it is my duty to listen. 

That crack went way down to nowhere-land

I also think my iron stores might be low, once again.  My recent fatigue is similar to when I was anemic.  When my doctor back in Chicago said I need to take an Iron supplement, I obeyed.  Within a month, I was back to normal.  Of course, once I felt like my old self, I stopped taking iron.  Typical American; always reactive, never proactive.  On Saturday, I slept until 1:30 in the afternoon and yesterday I took a nap after sleeping in.  I could actually fall asleep right now if I laid my head down.  This just doesn't seem quite right.  Normal people just don't sleep this much.

Have you ever backed out of a race you registered for?
What were the circumstances?

On a positive note, Ang just sent me a text of someone at the gym.  At our gym, anything goes, and that is why we love it.  You are free to be whoever it is you are!

I give her a ton of credit for feeling brave enough to pair the Ugg-like boots with pink and purple spandex.  It's like Jane Fonda meets Britney Spears... or an eskimo. 


  1. Ugh, I'm sorry running is feeling like that for you now Kate. I feel a little of that too--running in this eastern WA weather! It does feel like a chore.

    With the trail run you signed up for, I would imagine you want to be ALL in--that's too far to be miserable. Start popping your Fe supplements and see if that helps girl!!!

    Also, I channeled you on my blog today! ;)

  2. You

    Loving that photo. freaking hot. outfit.

    Hang in there girl. Your body will tell you what to do. :)

  3. Sorry you're in this spot. You'll figure it out. When something that is supposed to be fun becomes a chore, I quit the heck doing it.

    so...I think some Fun non-running Sundays might be a necessity!

    I've paid for way too many races I've had to back out of due to injury...and once, to being afraid :-(

  4. How did you get a picture of me at the gym??????

    I backed out of a race just recently. I was having intestinal distress, and it was 2am. I had to be up at 6am, and my stomach was not feeling better. I was stressed about being sick, and being unable to sleep. I asked my husband to make the call, and he said "health over running!" So, I un-set my alarm, and tried to go to sleep. My stomach kept me up a bit longer, and I slept until 11am the next day. It was the right choice, but I still felt bad.

  5. You know, THEY say (yeah, I know, whoever THEY are), that you should have one recovery day for every mile of your race. Marathon = 26 recovery days. That doesn't meet no running, but it does mean lighter running/training. ESPECIALLY (sorry about the caps, but I can't italicize :-), since it was your first marathon.

    Everybody hates to quit, but you need to make the right choice for you. You can suck it up and muddle through, but is that really what you want? If you do, that's fine. Or you can change your plans. I suspect that you will push on, but you might try a couple of day's rest, turn off the watch for a bit, and other things to change it up.

    And I'd definitely get going on some iron supplements. Today. Cause, if it's not low iron, it also sounds like it could be over-training.

    I don't think I ever backed out of a race I was registered for, but I have dropped out of a couple marathons. Both times because of my exercise induced asthma. I hated to stop, but you can't run if you can't breathe :-)

    Good luck with whichever choice you make.

    PS There is such a thing as post-marathon depression.

  6. that outfit is hilarious!!!
    I would have been to shy to take the picture!!!

    I am sorry you are in a bad place...but I think you are 100% right...this should not feel like a job it should feel good.

    I went out today for a run. I felt like crap before, I thought I should not go but then I looked a the PLAN and the guilt won. I went, it was not good I should have taken a break.

  7. I love the eye candy at your gym. That is amazing.

  8. That outfit is awesome. I wish I had the cojones to go out in public like that.

    I have never backed out of a race - but I have certainly gotten burnt out. After Surf City Half last year, actually. I was just done. I had busted my ass in training, and didn't even come close to the finish time I was shooting for. Then I went to cheer my friend at the OC Half in May. That got me going again (well, that and the fact that I saw some FB pics of myself she posted from the event, and felt like I had packed on a bit too much poundage and needed to snap out of my run funk).

  9. I'm loving that gym picture. Purple and pink spandex? Yes ma'am. :)

  10. Sorry to hear you are in a bad place. I know when my Iron gets low, I dont want to do anything but sleep. Start taking those iron pills. I have not dropped out of a race, but I did have to change from a 10k to a 5k because I was have some knee issues.

  11. I'm a firm believer in the Listen to Your Body Theory. I've shaved miles off runs or skipped runs altogether because my body was talking to me, or conversely I've done more miles and added more runs because I felt like I could handle it.

    As far as approaching runs, don't know if this would work for you, but before each run I try and focus as much as possible. I try to think of the run I'm on as the most important run of my life. I'll even go further than that and think of my next run that way. For instance, I ran today and my next run is tomorrow. So to me, Tuesday's run is the most important run of my life. Doesn't mean I'm running as fast as I can every time out but rather, I approach it that way so I can figure out what I want from the run, how I want to run it, what I hope to gain from it, what it will lead into, etc. I think a strong mentality is the most important thing to me.

    As far as backing out of races, honestly it would be hard to do so if I've already paid and registered and all that. But if I was having a rough go at it and felt like I needed some time away from running or races or whatever, I think it would be an option. And I think honestly that it's just a matter of time before I encounter that situation.

  12. I don't know that I've dropped out of a race, but I have definitely changed my goal entirely. If you're not feeling it though, no sense in being miserable. But maybe consider doing it with the goal of encouraging the back of the pack or meeting five new people...something to give yourself permission to relax and enjoy the ride. Always, always listen to your body though - it's very wise. Good luck!

  13. It is extremely refreshing to know i am not alone. Perfecting mile after mile is a must in my book. And when i finally come to that day where it is not perfection... total meltdown.

    But instead of having a perfection meltdown, it seems as though you have grasp something that i haven't. Listening to your body.

    I commend you.
    But i also disagree with the golden rule: "for every mile you run, you should rest a day.
    Donkey doo.
    I would be out there again after 6 days too.

    Take a week off, pop a few iron pills and see what happens.

  14. I have a long history of sucking at listening to my body. You seem to much more in tune then I've been in the past. Hopefully you'll just "know" what the right decision about the trail marathon is. Sorry it's felt more like a chore lately.

  15. The cranberry turtle bars are amazing. I haven't looked at the recipe, but I'm sure they could be easily veganized. Mostly, I'm scared to see what is in them. But oh my GOSH they are delicious.

  16. Hah! That picture is.awesome.

    I say take some rest, get some iron, some great massages, focus on something else and see if your heart and mind and legs wander back to the training.

  17. First, that pictures is awesome. Now I feel super unfashionable...

    Second, it is totally normal to feel that way after a huge race. Take as much time off as you need until you really want to run again and don't put pressure on yourself. Trail marathons are so different than road ones, and you are in excellent shape, I'm sure you can just run it with little training if you have the mindset that you're there to enjoy it and not looking for a time goal. I hope you learn to love running again soon!

  18. I have had to drop out of a race before due to fatigue and over training. It is good to listen to your body, and just think races are always going to be there, today or the next year. I always have to remind myself that my body comes first, training and running can wait. Due to a severe bout of chronic fatigue that left me lifeless for about a year, I learned my lesson hard. The first sign of fatigue or overtraining I cut down on my milage.

  19. Haha hilarious picture!! Yeah Kate it sounds like you need a break-a real rest, not just a few days. I think at this point, backing out of the race would be a smart choice. Keep us posted!

  20. You must listen to your body! I have had to back out of a couple of races. Each time because of injury. I wasn't happy about it but had to do the right thing.

    I hope you feel better soon and go get some iron!

  21. That photo! The best.

    Ok--remember I said recovery can be deceiving? You're there. You thought you were ready, your legs thought they were ready, but...

    Don't think twice about not starting a race if you are feeling tired and down on mojo. Your body is speaking to you. When I look back on the last month or so of my marathon training this year, I was tired, I was starting to lack mojo, I was getting colds all the time. Those were my warning signs and I ignored them. Look where I am today! Just a little cautionary tale.

  22. The pics from your trail run looked great, trail runs are awesome!

    I agree with Debbie and LB - definitely listen to your body. Your comments above are almost exactly like I felt after my first marathon at SF last year. I was lacking motivation, I felt burnt out, and my body was just not ready to start running again.

    I'm not sure when your trail marathon is - but until running becomes fun again, you might want to backoff on training for the trail marathon. Your enthusiam might return sometime, and you could always do it just for the experience and to finish it (and a trail marathon might be good for this anyways - take pictures, enjoy the journey, etc).

    I've never backed out of a race due to injury as far as I can remember. I have missed races due to being hung over though (2002 Bay to Breakers), and I know I'll miss the SJ Rock N Roll half marathon in Oct due to running Chicago Marathon the next week.

    and that gym outfit is hilarious, did she do any running on the treadmill? That would have been awesome, haha Was she aware that Ang was taking her picture? haha

  23. ugg, sounds like you need to just take a break for awhile. I have wanted to back out on many races but didn't always have the choice in college but think it would be completely acceptable to back out if you are not feeling it. REmember, you are your #1 advocate in life and you have to do what is right for Kate! This picture is awesome!! You should come meet up with my girlfriend and I for the Nike Women's half marathon in October. ;) Kidding, that wouldn't be the break you need I guess....but it isn't until October. :)

  24. You may be low on more than just iron. Do you take a B12 supplement? It's only found in animal products (ew) or seaweed. They do add it to soymilk. I know when I am inconsistent with my vitamins I notice a huge change in my energy levels, and sometimes it takes a few days for me to figure out what's going on.

  25. my1000miles: I take b12 religiously. I am just terrible at taking my iron regularly unless the doctor orders it. Thanks for your help!

  26. Okay, I'm all for self-expression, but that chick at the gym just took it a bit too far. LMAO

    You're a smart runner. You know what you need to do. And if you don't, you just may very well find yourself sidelined for reasons other than burnout! Don't compromise your body. It's been good to you--be good to it! :)

  27. Maybe it is time for a little rest for your poor little body. This sounds like a little more than just the aches and pains of intense training. I'm willing to bet that a few days of taking it easy, taking some iron, and doing some yoga will make you miss running :)

  28. I agree with everyone else: listen to your body and take a time out. The only one putting pressure on you to do otherwise is you. Take a break and come back with a fresh perspective, a fresh love for running and fresh legs!

    Love the pic and "subtle" workout garb. Hillcrest is a free for all in mind, body and spirit (and that's why I loved living in that area)!

  29. That outfit is awesome!

    I feel ya, with the burnout. Last week i was just cranky about all my runs and i was running slow. So i traded my mid week three miler for an hour on the elliptical. On friday to continue switching it up I did my 4 miles on the treadmill. And finally resumed my 6 mile sunday run outsided. I think I'm out of the slump since my last two runs were faster and felt better than the previous week, fingers crossed,

  30. I backed out of a 5k I had signed up for once. I was more than 1/2 way done with graduate school at that point, but had not been running consistently at all. I knew I would do terribly and I had a lot of work to do. It was really hard not to go, especially since I could see, hindsight being 20/20 of course, the places where I had wasted time not studying or could have fit in a run. Listening to your body when it tells you to stop is not easy, but it's some of the most important things you can hear.

  31. My sister is struggling with this right now- I'm so forwarding her this post. Thanks!

  32. I identify with a lot of the feelings you expressed on this post. I was out of it for weeks after my 2010 marathon.

    I'm also worried about my iron levels. I never visit doctors because of my shitty health insurance (I went once to have a freckle checked out, and lost $300. booohoooo), so I don't really know how my iron is. But I went veg a year ago, and have been off/on feeling ridiculously lethargic.

    Glad you are listening to your body!

  33. I fully understand! I've gone out for 3 runs since Surf City, but they've been uninspired and, as a result, totally unmotivating. I planned to run another marathon in May, but I think I'm sticking to a half. I don't have the drive to devote my weekends to long runs yet. We'll see if that changes in the next few weeks, though. Back to hitting the pavement tomorrow... rain or shine. I think if I get back into a routine, then I'll be more excited.

    I hope you find that spark soon! I've only backed out of a race once - Surf City 2010 because I woke up with a 100 degree fever! Otherwise I'm too stubborn to not run a race I've registered to run. :)

  34. Love the PHOTO of the outfit! It is hideous and hilarious.

    I think it is funny that people wear uggs to the gym. What's up with that? Don't your feet get sweaty?

    Great idea to listen to your body regarding your upcoming run!

  35. I have a confession to make. That's me in a wig in that picture. I'm not really on a biz trip to Asia, I am in Hillcrest living my alter ego.

    Rest, rest, rest. Running should be fun. You have a good base. Take 2 weeks off and you'll be fine. Run S2S, don't race it.

  36. I ran my marathon a month ago and I'm just now starting to enjoy runs again. I only ran five or six times in all of February! At first I felt guilty, but then I realized by body needed a break. Plus it was the perfect time to get back into swimming, which I'm really excited about. My next race is in six weeks (a half marathon) and I'm sure I'll be ready for it. Sometimes a break is necessary, even from things we love as much as running. :)

  37. Hope you're feeling better - noone ever does it, but I've read in many places that you should take a day off for every mile you've raced. So a marathon is basically a month. Take it for what it is - free advice. :)

  38. First, I love that photo. She must have some really good self confidence.
    Second, I'm sorry you're just not feeling right. I've heard it takes 4 weeks to fully recover from a marathon. Plus running on trails is just so different. You're so smart to listen to what your body is telling you. It's when we don't that we end up injured. I say take your iron pills, and get on a bike or go swimming for a week and then re-evaluate. You won't lose your fitness in that time. Plus you're so amazing that I'm sure you'll be able to do that trail marathon, just give yourself some time in between. :)

  39. I want to go trail running with you and angela.....BEAUTIFUL SCENERY!!! Girl, TAKE A BREAK!!! I know exactly what you are talking about, why do we have to be so stubborn. It is hard to back off because we love it so much but in the long run it will be the best thing for you!! I LOVE the gym, who does that?!?! I haven't had that many races under my belt yet but I have definitely back out of a long run!!! Keep us updated and allow yourself to rest. You are amazing!!

  40. I'm really proud of you for acknowledging the fact that you need a break. Our society really focuses on "never give up," "no pain, no gain," and "more is better." It can be extremely difficult to admit that maybe less is better sometimes. I say take a break--exercise in other ways. You'll come back to it, I'm sure! If not, who cares? It's all up to you.

  41. First off, love the photo. Not sure about those extra-furry Uggs but hey - she must love them to be prepared to sweat in them.

    Next - you need to back off training. Seriously - take it from me. You're going to hate running AND hurt yourself. I have pulled out of races before - including the London marathon - because I was overtrained and unhappy.

    You may well be anaemic - I was last year and had to pull out of a local marathon as a result, my (runner) doctor said I was no way strong enough. However, I've recovered by just doing less running for a while - you can't keep taking iron tablets forever although it's not easy to get it all from your food - research it as some combinations (caffeine with an iron-rich cereal) cancel out the iron in the food. Others enhance it - like citrus and spinach.

    The other thing that has really helped this training cycle is SLOWING down. RIGHT DOWN. I ran all my long runs too fast last year and I think it just left me depleted. Force yourself to run slower than, say a 9:30 min/mile. Or even - 10 minute /mile?

    Try it. Great good luck sweetheart. Look after number one and please don't feel that by pulling out of a race you're giving up. Come on! You're a rockstar. Sometimes the wisest move is to change direction.

  42. I know when I work so hard to achieve goal, I sometimes get into a place where I am trying to force old times and paces upon return and it just doesn't happen and that makes it more miserable. Time off really helps...leave the Garmin at home and even the watch and just go out and enjoy other venues and I promise, when you've been gone long enough, your mind will tell you when it's time to start fighting again!

    The trail run looked really pretty though :). And snow on the mountains is what I see every single day - but then I don't GET to live in Southern Cali - whaaa!

  43. oh girl, i've been there! in fact right now, running is feeling more like a job for me, too, and i honestly am looking forward to my big races being over so i can do something new. i think i just miss running for the sake of running!

    is there another distance you could drop down to? or, scale your training waaaay down between now and the race. doing back to back marathons doesn't require a buildup in between, just some moderate runs to keep things moving. ultimately, listen to your body. you ran a hard marathon (and killed it!) so it's no surprise that you're still recovering. it can last a lot longer than the aches and sore muscles do.

  44. Love you girl! There is nothing more special that knowing how to listen to your body. I say, when you need rest, you need rest! Treat yourself to an evening of yoga and chocolate love, you will feel so much better. And I am with you on the anemia thing, I have the same problem:(

  45. I totally sport my BO with pride. If I don't stink, I didn't work hard enough. It helps that half the days I forget to put on deodorant at all, so I stink ALL the time.

  46. Yes, I have backed out of a race :( RIGHT NOW! I ran NYC in the fall and have been nursing a persistent injury since. I live in LA and had signed up for the LA Marathon, but the most I can run is about 5-6 at this point, so no LA Marathon for me :(

    Not gonna lie, it totally sucks. I know its what my body needs though---there are always other races.

  47. New reader here, just stopping by to say that I love your blog! I found you through HungryRunnerGirl. I'm also a San Diegan runner, training for a May marathon. I appreciate all the suggestions in your blog for places to run! Finding 20mile routes is not an easy thing to do.

    Sorry about the overtraining. I would definitely suggest some time off. You could cross train in the meantime so prevent losing fitness and keep your next marathon as an option. I read that you were planning on walk/running it, taking pics and just enjoying the race. I think you could still do that, if you wanted to. It won't take nearly as much out of you.

    I have backed out of a race, but only on accident. I slept through the Bay Bridge Run last year! oops!

  48. Ugh, we all go through that...the feeling that it's a chore and not fun anymore! That is when I remind myself that my fist goal is to finish each race with a smile! Run for YOU! If that means take a break then take a break! You got this! You are fit and you can handle it, physically, its your mental training that needs a rest.

    and I am SO pissed that your friend did not say HI when she snapped my pic at the gym! So rude! I would have been happy to pose with her! =0)

  49. Jess@blond ponytail told me about your post. I am frustrated right now and have lost my fun for the run.

    Great post! And that picture is a classic.

  50. That lady's gym outfit just made my day, thank you!

  51. I know I'm late to this party/post, but it is just what I needed to read this week... Running has taught me to push through even when it hurts. Yoga has taught me to listen to my body. I'm nursing an injured calf right now and WANT TO RUN, so I'm trying to take deep breaths and remember that a couple more days of rest will be better for my running overall. Thanks for the inspiration!

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