Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Knowing when to throw in the towel

I heard this saying when I was younger, not sure who to credit with it, but I loved it:

"You can either throw in the towel, 
or use it to wipe the sweat off your face."

Try quitting after having THAT lodged in your brain for 15 years! During training cycles, I find myself very committed. I'll wake up extra early, I'll carve out the time, and no matter how tough the run is, I'll do my best to finish it. This is ESPECIALLY true during my long runs in the past. No matter what has happened (Including a swollen infected ingrown toenail during a 20 mile run), I have logged my miles as my plan dictated. 

There are times where you can wipe the sweat off your face. During last year's training cycle, I ran 18 miles after an intense workout. I was pumped to do it, pumped to see what my body could do, pumped to get close to 20 miles! However, the results were rough: very slow, very tired, and some serious chaffing wounds from the heat and humidity. I didn't throw in the towel then, and I believe I made the right decision.

The question is: when is it time to give up and start again another day? This is a hard lesson to learn. I read a great post about Running Mistakes, and I've definitely made a few of them. Sunday could have been one of those days. NYC went from a high of 56 degrees one Saturday to a high of 92 the following Saturday. HELLO heat advisory! Heat and I don't mix well to begin with, but I wanted to run 5 miles. Many things happened which resulted in me starting my run around 8am, much later than I had hoped. I kept a decent pace, bathed in a yard sprinkler, and was ready to give up...then I saw my landlord! She's an amazing runner and it's taken us 4 years for our running schedules to collide and "run" into each other!

Two overheated yet happy runners. 

I got the voice of reason from my NYC mom. My landlord told me, "Listen, you're not winning any races today, it's hot. Give yourself a break." And you know what? I did. I ran home and tapped out at 4 miles. I was SO exhausted after a measly 4 miles, I almost started beating myself  up. Instead, I got an iced coffee, which covers over a multitude of hurts.

Iced red eye: Good for mind, body and soul.

So, when is the right time to throw in the towel? Here is a list of what I think:
- Feeling sick
- Feeling dizzy
- Lack of fuel
- Overheating/frostbite
- When you're in danger of tripping or bonking
- Dangerous weather

However, there are times we need to use that towel to wipe of our sweat! Keep going if...
- You're discouraged: YOU CAN DO IT
- You're tired: YOU CAN DO IT
- You're stressed: YOU CAN DO IT
- You're not meeting your time goal: KEEP GOING ANYWAY!

I think the difference is what is physically challenging versus what is mentally challenging. Knowing the difference comes with maturing as a runner. I believe I made the right choice Sunday. I have not beat myself up about missing a mile on a measly 5 mile "long" run, nor have I regretted stopping. Know thy self. Know what you can handle safely, and what you can't. SAFELY is the key word!

How about you? Are you always determined to meet your plan? Do you feel like you've matured as a runner? Do you enjoy running in the heat? (If you do, I envy you...) TELL ME ABOUT IT!
Post a Comment