Less is more. I find myself saying this often. About many things. It’s one of those pieces of very “zen” advice that you wish you could follow all the time. It can be applied to many things. Like:
– Stressing about housework: it never ends anyway, right?
– Over-scheduling your kids: this backfires, right?
– American Idol: three seasons was enough, right?
– Running: less is more. What?
I know. It’s hard to think that you get MORE with LESS running. But sometimes, this is true. Just like over-thinking leads to over-thinking, running too much leads to Running. Too. Much. Don’t get me wrong. There is no distance that sounds crazy to me. Everything is relative. One woman’s 5K is another’s 100 miler. It’s all good.
A very exhausted, overworked, overstressed friend who just ran a 50K asked me yesterday if she should go ahead and run that other 50K she was signed up for next weekend. “You know me”, I said. “I error on the side of over-conservatism. (With running, not politics) I can’t help it. I fantasize about being the person who can run a 50K then go run another in a week, or hop in a marathon after a marathon. I’ve tried. I get injured every time. I have finally learned that my body needs more recovery time. I can do those races! Just not too close together. This is me. You have to listen to YOUR body. And sometimes less is more. Most importantly, if you decide it’s less. THAT’S OK.”
Fresh legs work. And listening to your body works. After 15 years of running, which isn’t long by some, I am finally getting the hang of that. The challenge becomes NOT in the long slogging distance (I know I can do that and I have). The challenge is in the waiting. Waiting till you’re healed. Waiting till you’re healthy. Waiting till you’re rested.
If you love running. I mean really love it. And I really love it. Then the waiting is the hardest part. Waiting for the energy. Waiting for the strength. Waiting for the body’s green light. It might mean waiting a day, waiting a week. Or longer.
When it comes, it’s all systems go. And so worth the wait.
I used to look up to people who could run and run and run and never stop. Now I look up to people who know when to rest. AND, who aren’t afraid to say so. It’s hard to cut a run short and not beat yourself up about it all day. It’s hard to DNS. It’s hard to DNF. And sometimes that’s the right answer.
Another friend of mine said to me this week. “I wonder what it would be like if, you know, we actually acknowledged our injuries. How long would it take to get back to running then?”
Our bodies get stronger when we rest. Our torn and tired muscles heal when we sleep, eat, sit on the couch. This is a runner’s major thinking error; that recovery is separate from training. It’s not repeated cycles. It’s all one journey. Our current recovery is essential to the success of our next event.
As much as you seek to find the limits of speed, distance, endurance or altitude, seek the balance of rest. It’s the key to your success just as much as the next PR, or that extra mile.
Don’t worry. Your body will know what to do when it’s time to run. Your legs won’t forget. Your heart will not forget what it loves to do.
Sometimes less is more.