As you evolve into a runner you become very aware of your body. You begin to learn what foods and drinks help your body to work better while you run. You begin to analyze the sound of your breathing and what it means as you run. You learn to read your muscles as well as any book you've ever read. You begin to learn what it can and cannot do. (Really it can do way more than you give it credit!)
Listening to your body is the key to any physical activity I suppose, but, it is also key to knowing when not to be active. During week 10 of my training my body started to scream at me. I was becoming EXTREMELY tired on my weekday runs. I was doing exactly what the training plan suggested, but every stride I took that week felt as if I was lifting a 2 ton elephant leg. My feet hit the ground with a thud and my breathing was near asthmatic! I set out each day with a sense of dread! I had a HUGE bout of the self doubt that I wrote about yesterday. I begin to question the entire past year... At week 10, there was still 8 weeks of training to go. If I was already struggling at week 10, how in the world was I gonna make it through 8 more weeks... 3 of which included a 20 miler and conclude all of it with a big 26.2 mile run!
I listened very carefully to my body that week. It needed a break. Not just a day off of running, but a break from the amount of pushing I was doing... That week My run schedule was this:
Grand total of 44 miles. I was used to that kind of weekly mileage. Back before the official training began I was doing 48 miles a week, but that was at 8 miles a day... A bit more manageable for me. Plus, those were miles I was running first thing each morning. These miles were all after a long day of teaching. I was running as fast as I could too because I was trying to finish each run before dark set it... This was during the heart of winter.
After that week I was supposed to inch my mileage up a bit further... but instead, I listened to my body, and the advice of a great running friend, and toned back my weekday runs to 8 and 9 miles, but kept my long Saturday runs the same.
I am so glad I listened. It completely changed my training the next 8 weeks. 8 and 9 miles after school is so much easier than 10-12. I came to each Saturday run ready to push my distance further. Listening to my body was great because in the long run (no pun intended) my cut backs only allowed me to go further!