How To Listen To Your Body In Training

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When it comes to running, the ability to listen to your body is critical – and it doesn’t come easy.

As runners we can all benefit from taking a more rounded approach to our training, and a key part of this is the mind and body being in tune with each other. It’s a great recipe for helping to maximise performance.

The importance of awareness

An aware runner is a more effective runner. Whenever I work with someone new to help improve their running, one of the first things I’ll talk about is awareness.

It can take time to develop, and it’s honed with continual practice in training. If you see yourself as an ongoing project, then you’ll always be willing and ready to learn more about yourself.

With increased awareness you have a whole host of extra information to work with, and will be better able to judge things like effort level, pace, time, discomfort, and so on.

The role of the mind

There’s a complex relationship between the mind and the body in running. Running – in particular endurance running – is as much a psychological sport as it is physical.

Awareness is the glue that helps to bind the two together. With some conscious effort, you can learn how far and how hard to push yourself – listening to your body and knowing when to overrule the feeling that you want or need to stop.

Stick some numbers on those feelings

A simple way to improve your ability to listen to your body is to put some objective data to your feelings.

For example, use a scale of 1-10 to measure discomfort. If it’s a 0 when you start, keep an eye on this rating during a training session. If it gets too much and starts to feel more like ‘pain’ than ‘discomfort’, then you should ease off.

This helps you to paint a picture of how each training session feels, and you can then correlate this with other information such as session type or time of day.

Pair objectivity with subjectivity

Many runners use a range of data to measure or track their running. Metrics such as distance, pace, heart rate, and so on.

This kind of data can be invaluable, but it’s important not to focus only on that at the detriment of your own feelings.

Pair the data you’re seeing on your device – your watch or phone – with your own subjective perceptions of how you’re feeling. This helps to build awareness and ensures you’re listening to your body as well as your device.

Tune in on the run

Take a moment during your runs to tune into your body. Notice how you’re feeling. Notice your form, your pace, any niggles you may be feeling.

Consider how this information may be affecting your running and your efficiency, and adjust if necessary.

It can take time to know what to look for, and effort to keep this up – but it’s important to give it a go.

Don’t be a slave to your training plan

It’s dangerous to think that you must complete every session on your plan come what may. It’s far more beneficial to complete sessions where you feel up to it, but to reduce duration or intensity – or skip a session entirely – if you feel excessively fatigued or in discomfort/pain.

This is one of the strengths of bespoke training plans – they’re developed in line with your progress, so you’re always working to your current ability and strengths, and not over- or under-reaching.

Above all, ensure you’re working with and not against yourself. Listening to your body helps you to be a more sensible and effective runner.

If you feel like you’d benefit from some support with any of the above, running coaching can take the uncertainty and stress away from it all. Get in touch anytime using the box below.

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