Unequivocally, listen to your body is my number one training rule. Why? Because being injury won’t get you to the starting line, let alone the finishing line. I
don’t like to run hurt, or worse — injured, and I bet most of you don’t either. “Listen to your body” is a popular running metaphor of do what your body safely lets you do. It may take some experience to know how many miles you can safely handle and how how fast you can run them before showing signs of injuring. But be conservative. Live to run another day.
Make it a Habit to Listen to your Body
Like I said, this is something you’ll need to learn by experience, but even on your day-to-day runs you can tell if “something isn’t right”. Maybe you have a great, fast run the previous day. Run by effort — not by pace! — for that day. In the future maybe you’ll hold off a little bit on your “feel good runs” to save the quality of your runs later on in the week. Perhaps you had too much to drink, or not enough to drink, and you should adjust your mileage and pace accordingly.
Let Your Body Guide You
I may be the worse person to say “take it easy!” when the transition of running your first marathon to wanting to crush the second one. But one thing I did was practice listen to your body. I ran what my body gave me. For my October marathon, I went from PRing 40 miles in a week to 83 about a month and a half later. No one does that. And for good reason. I even tried to add a speed workout or two in those weeks. And doubles. Lovely doubles. But the week after I ran 83 I felt flat, unmotivated, and needing to take a time out to regroup. I took a step back to analyze my training, rest, and nutrition. The rather along you go, the more important rest and nutrition are. The body gains fitness from rest and you learn what to eat to better train.
Analyze Your Body
Without obsessing too much, if possible!, take a mental note of how your body reacts to your diet, rest, training, recovery — basically everything! It takes time and practice, and you’ll probably never completely know your body. That’s okay. The important part is knowing how your body reacts during your training, through various stimuli. You may need a certain amount of slight, dietary “macros” (carbs, fat, and protein in weightlifting terms), or how much recovery you need the training you do. For me, I almost always run with a heart rate monitor. I, however, rarely look at it while running. I get a sense of how a run is going from my experience and conscientiousness. Afterward, I look at my heart rate to notice how it’s trending. If it’s higher than normal, is that because it was a harder run? Do I need more rest? Am I fatigued? It’s my way of post game analysis.
“Listen to your body” is a learned skill. It will greatly serve you in the long run to know how your body reacts to staying healthy. The worse thing you can become is injury. Become a student of your body.