Unscheduled Rest Day
After an easy 6 mile treadmill run on Monday and a sluggish 4 miles in the snow last night, I could tell my legs needed a night off tonight. All day today I felt run down, dehydrated, exhausted, and sore. Somehow I think my Saturday long run had a bigger toll on my muscles than I originally expected.
One of the things I've learned over a few years of marathon training is that I need to listen to my body when things don't feel quite right. This article from Runner's World describes ten signs that you need a rest day. Since today I exhibited at least seven of the ten signs, I made the executive decision to bag the run today and go hard tomorrow.
The critical, non-physical factor that always influences my decision to run is my desire and excitement to get out and pound the pavement. In early 2011, after an intense, two year courtship and passionate love affair with running, I hung up my sneakers for almost an entire year. I had gotten to the point where I felt obligated to run, instead of excited to run. I was completely and utterly burned out. It was only in early 2012, after a year of exploring other activities, that I gained back my desire to get out there again. I haven't stopped training or racing since then.
I know the chance of burnout and/or injury is fairly high this year. After an intense fall 2012 training season and racing two marathons only 3 weeks apart, I took only a month "off" before my 50k training started this January. I have to remain vigilant in monitoring mileage, aches, pains, but most of all, my mental state as my training progresses. If I start to lose that "spark" that motivates me to run five days a week, then I know it's time to cut down mileage or take an extra rest day.
I'm already pumped for tomorrow's run.