When I was working full-time as a personal trainer, I constantly found myself giving this advice to my clients. We live in a results-oriented world, and we often become so caught up in doing what we think we need to do – i.e., “I need to work out six days per week” or “I need to run five miles today” or “I can only eat 1500 calories” – that we become completely focused on our goals and ignore things our body is telling us. Ignoring signals from your body, such as pain, hunger or fatigue, can result in injury be downright counterproductive in reaching your fitness goals.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am all for setting goals. I believe that setting goals is an important part in achieving success- especially in the gym- but listening to your body has to come first.
A few years ago, I was training for the Boston Athletic Association Half Marathon when I began to feel a slight twinge in my left knee. I ignored it and continued with my training, believing that I just needed to push through the pain. I wound up sidelined with major IT Band issues three weeks before the race.
Now when I am training and I feel pain, I stop and ask myself “Is this a good hurt or a bad hurt?” Burning lungs during an interval run? Quads on fire while doing lunges? Feeling like you are going to collapse in a heap on the floor of the gym if you have to hold a plank for one more second? All good hurts!
Joint pain, sharp muscular pain or severe nausea, however? Those would qualify as bad hurts. It seems so simple, but if we just slow down and listen to our bodies, they will tell us exactly what we need. A day (or two) on the couch beats months in physical therapy any day.
I listened to my body this week and took THREE consecutive rest days. Let’s just say the GHD sit-ups that we did in Crossfit on Tuesday made one hell of a first impression on me. Seriously, it was BAD. Today was the first day I have been able to stand up straight without severe discomfort or sneeze without feeling like my abdominal muscles are being ripped apart. Maybe I’m being a little overdramatic, but you get the gist.
As someone who likes to push myself outside of my comfort zone when working out, it wasn’t easy for me to watch my husband leave every evening for an awesome workout as I headed to the fitness center for a gentle spin on the elliptical. But I knew that debilitating soreness lasting more than two days was my body’s way of telling me to take a break.
Three days later, I’m feeling much better and ready to tackle tomorrow’s W.O.D. I just hope there aren’t any sit-ups involved…