There’s a lot to learn about running and walking. You read books and magazines; you talk with members of the program about what to eat, what to wear and what shoes to buy. As your distance and fitness increases, and your head swells with all of this knowledge, you don’t want to forget one key tool – your gut instinct!
In addition to all of that learning, you are developing an instinct about what works for you, what doesn’t, what you want to wear or carry on a given workout and what to have after a workout. You may also find that just as you head out the door, you think of something that would be good to have, but you shake it off thinking it’s not necessary or you’ll be alright without it. As an example, it’s been raining and drizzling all night, but as you head out the door, it’s not raining and you decide not to grab your baseball cap. You get to the run and after about 20 minutes, it starts raining, and you wish you’d followed your gut and grabbed that cap. You can swap cap for sunglasses, sunscreen, bug spray, dry socks or a ClifBar to eat in the car on the way to the workout. Whatever it is, that nagging thought is a byproduct of your training – it, like any of our other gear, shouldn’t be ignored.
Your gut may also try to tell you about a workout. You may have planned to run or walk a certain distance, or participate in a race. You get out there and get moving but you have a nagging feeling that going the distance is the wrong choice. Most of the time, we will ignore that nagging feeling until we get deep into that run or walk and the wheels fall off our proverbial cart. The problem here is that you will have put yourself in a position where you may need outside assistance. Had you listened to your gut, you would have done a more thorough assessment of your readiness to do that run, walk or race and made the necessary adjustments in your distance or pace, or decided against participating in that race. Your gut will help you set realistic goals and expectations based on how you feel, or how prepared you really are. Trust your gut and know that there’s no shame in backing off. It’s easier to handle missing one workout, than it is to miss weeks of working out because you pushed forward on a day when you thought about scaling back.