Disclaimer: While I was inspired by Jenna’s post, this has nothing to do with whether or not what she did was right or wrong. It’s just a philosophical conversation I had with myself based on her decision and the responses it garnered.
When Jenna announced that she was stepping down from the 60-mile distance from the 100-mile distance of the Echelon Gran Fondo, I knew there would be uproar in her comments section. Some of the comments congratulating on her for “listening to [her] body” made me think: where is the line drawn between listening to our bodies and the normal wear and tear of endurance training?
If you’ve trained for an endurance event, whether it be a half or full marathon, a triathlon, or a ride, you know that endurance training is hard work. Your body aches and hurts. Your mind plays tricks on you. You are emotionally and physically exhausted. If I had “listened” to my body during my half-marathon training, I would’ve quit at least once a week. Hell, if I had listened to my body, I never would have started running in the first place.
Pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zones is painful and hard. If it were easy, everyone would do it and we wouldn’t have to train. The entire point of endurance training is to push beyond our current abilities to improve and get stronger – to gain endurance. If we all gave up whenever we listened to our body’s discomfort, we’d never get anywhere. What I’m saying is you shouldn’t give up because your body (or mind for that matter) is saying you can’t. YOU CAN. You will never know unless you TRY. Pushing past a mental block is extremely difficult. For me, it was one of the hardest parts about starting to run. I still struggle on a daily basis with the mental aspect of running. You just HAVE to push through it in order to improve. Fight the good fight! Winning the battle is both mentally and physically fulfilling.
Granted, there is a distinct difference between pushing through a mental block and continuing while injured. If you are injured, you should absolutely do what it takes to get better – even if that means giving up. In that case, you NEED to listen to your body. For example, if you have shin splints, listen to your body. Ice. Rest. Take the necessary precautions so it doesn’t become a bigger problem. Same goes for IT Band issues and the like. Look at me! Two weeks before my half, I almost had to drop out due to my IT band. But I took a solid week off to rest and I took care of myself. It was still painful, but completely and totally worth it in the long run (literally and figuratively).