The Runner’s Dilemma: To Run, Or Not To Run?

Life, Running / Saturday, September 23rd, 2017

Hi Friends:)

It has been way too long!

This week has been so kooky, but also so wonderful. I have lots of amazing bits and pieces of news to share in my next few posts, so get excited!

Today, though, I am going to talk a little bit about a question that cycles through every runners head at least a million times a day: To run, or not to run.

Some days I jump out of bed ready and excited to run. Other days, I am so, so hesitant. The reasons for this hesitation are many; sometimes, like last weekend, I’m feeling legitimately ill. Other times, I just have a deep anxiousness in the pit of my stomach (this is particularly severe right before long runs).

In my many years of running, I have talked myself into and out of thousands of runs. Sometimes I made the right choice, other times the wrong choice. I learned a few things the hard way for sure. So, if you’re debating whether or not to run today, you’ve found the right post!

  • My Throat is A Little Sore and I Think I might, Maybe Be Getting Sick= Go For a Run. A sore throat can mean a lot of things. Sure, you could be coming down with something nasty. But typically your body will send you more messages than just a little sore throat when you’re truly sick. Chances are you just talked a little too loudly for a little too long at a music-filled restaurant with your co-workers last night; Sip some water and get out there!
  • Everything Hurts and I’m Dying and Coughing and So Fatigued= Do Not Run. If you are really feeling ill, have a productive cough, a fever, or serious muscle aches, it really is better to just rest. I ran through so many chest colds in the past, and it just prolonged the issue. In my mind, one week of high quality training is better than three weeks of low-quality training while sick. Case in point:I spiked a fever last weekend, right before I was supposed to run my first post-injury 5k. I’d been so excited to race again, but I have learned my lesson about not listening to my body. I stuck to the couch, had some great soup, watched Netflix and let my fever run itself out.
  • I’m Kinda Tired= Go For A Run. Nobody feels energetic after a long day at work or at 5 in the morning, but most of the time running will make you feel so much better! Even if it’s just a couple of miles! 
  • I Legit Haven’t Slept A Full Night In Over A Week= Don’t Run. I’ve found that the more sleep deprived I am, the more injury prone I am. This was a huge factor in my most recent injury last spring. If you’re seriously sleep deprived, I’m talking >5 hours for more than 3 days straight.. give your body a break. focus on reducing screen time, diffuse some lavender oil, and read a nice, boring book. Log a full night’s sleep before you hit the pavement again.
  • It’s Cold= Go For a Run. Just layer up, guys. You can run in any temperature over 20 degrees fahrenheit. Treat yourself to some fleece-lined running tights, a nice running jacket, a good headband and some gloves with those little touch screen fingers. I also love mitten warmers; stick them in your pockets, then nestle your iPhone next to them because fun fact; iPhones die in temps under 40. (PS, I find this pin to be really helpful to know what to wear in any given temperature!)
  • It’s Sub Zero= Don’t Run (Outdoors). I live in Boston, and sometimes it gets arctic cold here. I’m talking negative temps with a windchill. Once I was scheduled to do a long run when it was -8. I cannot bring myself to do my long runs on a treadmill, and I told one of my co-workers that I was just going to layer up and make it work. They looked at me like I was crazy (which clearly I AM) and simply said “You cannot run in this.” They were so right; just walking from work to my car made all the fluids in my sinuses literally frost up. I ended up scooting my schedule around so I could do a quick 4 miles on the treadmill when I was supposed to do my long run, and push my long run off to a warmer (+20 degree) day. Ah, the joys of winter running.
  • It’s Hot= Go for a (morning/treadmill) Run. I once vacationed in Costa Rica while marathon training. It was 90+ degrees by 9am each morning, so I realized quickly that I wasn’t going to be sleeping in during the trip. Like, at all. I woke up at 4:30 every morning, ran from 5-6:30ish when it was in the 70’s, and then went back to bed for a few hours until my friend was up and ready to head to brunch and to the beach. Hitting the treadmill in an air conditioned gym is also an option!  It was not relaxing, but it was so, so worth it. Running in temps over 85 can be super hard on the body, and I don’t personally recommend it.
  • I’m Super Hungover= Don’t Run (until the nausea has subsided and you’re fully hydrated) But feel guilty about not running. Like, actually. If you have fitness goals, then you need to commit to training. And part of that commitment is not going out and getting so wasted that you feel ill the next day. I actually enjoy being the designated driver for my friends in the months leading up to a race. I save money, I help my friends stay safe, and I don’t screw up my training.
  • It’s Raining=Go For A Run. Sneakers dry, folks! And running in the rain can be super freeing. If it’s lightning, though, it’s probably best to stick to the treadmill. My friend and I once ran a whole half in POURING rain. Just put your iPhone in a ziplock and have fun! 
  • My Intestines Are Acting Funny=Don’t Run. Or, if you’ve got to run, take an imodium and know where your bathrooms are. A good rule of thumb for runners is this: Go before you run. And if you’re in a situation where you maybe ate something funny… reschedule the workout. or hit up the treadmill nearest to the bathroom.
  • I’m Just Feeling Really Anxious=Go For A Run. I am, and I always will be, an anxious person. My anxiety has made many aspects of my life very challenging; I’m looking at you, tunnels. That said, I have learned to embrace my anxiety and work through it in a balanced and systematic way. First, I try to identify whether my nerves are founded or unfounded. Once I’m able to rule out injury, illness, and other caution-causing issues, I remind myself that anxiety doesn’t always speak the truth; sometimes it just holds me back. 99% of the time, running helps me burn off my nerves and build up my confidence. 
  • Something’s a Little Sore= Go For A Run. If you’ve ever trained for a longer race, you know that a little bit of soreness is just part of the game. Keep your pace easy until you’re recovered from your long run, and make sure to keep up with your stretching and foam rolling!
  • Something Seriously Hurts, But I Can Run On It, But It Hurts And Keeps Hurting After Rest, Ice, and Compression= DON’T RUN! If you have taken all the steps to alleviate pain, ind it still hasn’t gone away after 3-5 days, go see an orthopedist. Everyone has to take a few days off to heal this or that during a training cycle, and if you don’t… you learn some hard lessons. Also, as someone who ran on a fracture for 3 months: just because you can run, does not mean you should. Falling over with a catastrophic injury should not be the only reason you pause your running.
  • I’m Busy= Go For A Run. If you have running goals, then you need to make a plan. I work full time, tutor part time, sort-of keep up this blog, volunteer regularly, and have a couple of weekend side-gigs. I am writing this on a train because my feet haven’t hit the ground since Wednesday. Make a goal, make a plan, make it happen!
  • I Just Cant. Then you won’t. Motivation is intrinsic, folks. Or, most of it is. And running is super popular right now, and many people are very passionate about it. But is is for everyone? Heck no! If you really, really cannot get yourself to get out there and run…Maybe try swimming! or dancing! or biking! or yoga! or like, any of the other million amazing fitness things you can do to strengthen your body and your mind:)

Hope this was helpful! Have a wonderful weekend!

Now You Tell Me…

  • What gives you pause when you’re getting ready for a workout?
  • Have you figured out ways to work through the rough days? What helps?
  • Tips for motivation? Songs? Mantras? Post-run incentives?


2 Replies to “The Runner’s Dilemma: To Run, Or Not To Run?”

  1. Love this! Running when I’m sick usually does more harm than good so I’m more likely to take a rest day.
    And I HATE running outside when it’s hot out, but I’d rather run outside than on a treadmill any day!

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