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Listening to your body - how do you know when it is your mind?

kjg's picture
So we have all been told many times that we should "listen to our bodies" and rest when it needs it. Through my running training I have had times when I have felt bodily tired (from a lack of sleep point of view) or recognised that something is mentally tough and pushed through it and usually felt better for it. It got me thinking how do you differentiate between your body or your mind talking to you? When should you listen and ease up and when should you block it out and get through, especially during tough track workouts (which are very powerful but little fun!) Any advice would be appreciated, do you train regardless or listen to your body more than the training plan?


eebee's picture

Tough question!

I used to prefer training without a heart rate monitor, because I liked being able to tune into my body and hear what it was telling me...not to mention feeling justified in ignoring any redlining that was going on! However, after a year or two of Blake's persistent observations of his own heart rate during training months, I started wearing my heart-rate monitor and was astonished to see that it knew more about what was going on with my body than my head ever understood or let on to me! I know that you use your hrm, KJG, so one good thing to look out for to indicate overall fatigue would be perhaps a low heart rate in an otherwise normal training week. I noticed typically that if I were sick, or about to get sick, my heart rate would be about 10 bpms higher. I'm sure everybody reacts differently, so I hope people pile on here and chime in with their findings, too.  

The other issue about pushing through a mental block is very complex! I guess it depends on whether you mean the couch-vortex syndrome (aka, don't go home first after work before working out!), or whether you're talking about what I call the $#!&&* first half hour of skating, where, instead of a stealthily smooth athlete, I feel like I'm stumbling through sand in a hurricane. Surely as the sun rises each day, after 30 mins of skating my brain is flooded with exercise-induced endorphins and I feel like Superwoman. So even when I'm driving to the park to skate, cursing bumper-to-bumper traffic, putting on all my skate gear in a frustrated rage, and going through the painful motions of that $#!&&* first half hour of skating, I know without a doubt that come 30 mins plus, all those negative thoughts will be gone. 


Do you have a threshold, before which you feel wretched, and beyond which you feel fantastic?  


Having said all that, I think it all depends on your level of obsession, too. I'm sure that many elite athletes have retrained themselves to keep working out through what the rest of us would recognize as fatigue, since their need to win is the priority. That's a personal choice of course, but speaking for myself, I'd rather still enjoy skating when I'm 90. So if the honeymoon's over between you and your running, cycling, skating, swimming, etc., and you feel your head giving you some resistance (b-b-b-b-burnout!), definitely listen to that! Something needs a shake up.


I'd like to hear what others have learned about this, too!

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