Listening to the Body and the Spirit

I was so excited about last night.  My coach’s group here in the Bay area meets on Thursdays for track workouts.  Pete and I even incorporated this workout into this week’s training plan.  I went ahead and completed my assigned strength training first thing in the morning and planned the day around the fact that I’d need to head down to track workouts at 5:30 pm.  I packed sunscreen, Nuun, water bottles, sun glasses, and chocolate milk (a great recovery drink).  I changed into my running clothes, put on my Garmin heart rate monitor and pulled my hair back.  I fed Abigail and Madeleine their dinner.   Then I headed out.

I didn’t make it very far.  I think I was on the road for less than five minutes when I felt this strong urge to NOT go.  I wanted to stop my car right where I was in the midst of heavy traffic and turn around right there – I wanted a large hand to come down from the sky and pick up my car and turn it 180 degrees, like I was a little Hot Wheels car or something.  Part of me kept thinking, “Go, silly.  You need your interval training and it’ll be good to join this new group.”  But a bigger part of me wanted to return home.  The bigger part won.

Perhaps joining a new group during the first week of my cross-country move was too much for me to handle.  (I still don’t like meeting new people, and I find I need to continue giving myself a good amount of down time after being social.)  Perhaps I was over tired.  Perhaps I was nervous about running with a new group of accomplished athletes.  Perhaps my body just needed a break. Perhaps I was feeling a combination of all of this.

I’ve been trying to listen to my body AND spirit a bit more these days.  I experienced something similar about a month ago.  One Sunday I was getting ready for my long ride — I flipped my long workouts around that weekend —  but as I pumped air into my tires, I experienced the same feelings I had last night.  And I quickly felt sad and disappointed about those feelings.  I decided to turn that day into a recovery day and do my long ride the next day, Monday, (which is my usual recovery day).  I was worried I grew tired of training but as I rode on Monday that concern disappeared.  I felt amazing on the road.  I had a solid ride and felt really strong on the bike.

What I’ve learned since that Sunday (from my grief counselor) is the body which includes one’s spirit knows what’s best and will react accordingly if one doesn’t listen to it.  I’m familiar with my body physically breaking down (e.g. injuries, sickness, etc.) to tell me it needs a break.  But what I experienced on that Sunday and last night is my spirit telling me to listen to it; not over do it; and be kind to myself by taking a little break.  I do believe there’s a difference between this and lacking commitment/discipline or simply feeling lazy.  Believe me there’s been times when I’ve briefly thought about completing only half of my training session but I always ignored such thoughts and powered through.  (In some cases I found myself working even harder afterwards.)    What I felt last night and that Sunday were completely different, and the thoughts and emotions were so strong they felt truly physical.  I will tell you tears were involved both times.

I am somewhat disappointed in myself for not completing my interval training and joining the group last night.   Clearly I’m just learning about listening to my spirit and improving my self-care as I train.  At this point, I think it’s best to learn as much as possible from this and focus on today’s training session – a 1.8 mile swim and an hour on the bike.

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