Monday, March 19, 2018

Knowing When to Call it a Day

Some days, and some training sessions, one of the most important things you can do is know when to throw in the towel and call it a day. I'm not talking about the times when things feel a bit tough, and all you really need is a swift kick in the rear to keep going. I'm talking about the days when your head is pounding, your legs are shaking, there's nothing left in the tank, something's hurting, or something's just not quite right. 

If you are a perfectionist, type A person like I am, then quitting a workout before you've even reached the halfway mark feels as wrong as buying a book that has a movie poster as its cover.


That's exactly what I did this past Wednesday*.

As I said in a previous post, I run three times a week. I also work 12-hour shifts twice a week, am in class for a full day once a week, and on most weeks I also do a 13-hour clinical shift. I try not to run on consecutive days, but some times I just can't find a way around it. This past week, I decided to space my run days out by planning one of my workouts for after work.

As you have probably predicted, this didn't end well.

I love my job, and I love the work I do as an RN. However, there are days that are stressful and busy, when you don't get a chance to pee or eat or drink anything for more than 4 hours in a row, and Wednesday was one of those days. Even though I had been on my feet for the better part of 12 hours, was mentally tired, and under-fueled, I still decided to give the run a go.

I walked down to the gym close to work, and hopped on a treadmill. I still hate treadmills, so that was strike 1. The treadmill was in a corner facing an unfinished Sheetrock wall, with no ventilation or airflow, so that was strike 2. Unsettlingly, the woman on the treadmill next to me seemed to have been crying while running, and even though that should have been strike 3 and I should have just bailed then, I still went ahead.

I was planning on covering 7 miles at a mid-tempo pace, but I knew I was in trouble during the first mile of my warm-up. By mile 2, my legs were shaking and my stride was starting to fall apart. I dropped the pace for the third mile, and came down to a walk. I now regret it, but at that point I was disgusted with myself. I cooled off and headed home, still in a negative headspace. I knew I had done the right thing, and that I had certainly helped avoid injuring myself, but that wasn't making it much easier to swallow.

My next run was scheduled for Friday -- an 11 mile long run. I knew I needed to recover as best as I could, so I spent Thursday in the pool doing pull sets (no legs for me!). 

When I set out for Friday's run, I knew I had made the right choices. Despite 20+ mph wind gusts, and a run course that included more than 600 feet of elevation gain, the run felt easy even though I averaged under a 9:45 pace.

While I don't plan on canning any future training sessions (I plan to be more cognizant of my work schedule, and will be giving early morning workouts a try), it was a relief to know that I had made the right call. 

Grey, windy, cloudy, gross? Still better than a treadmill!


*Bailing on a workout, not the book-buying part. I'd never sink so low as that.

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