Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?

That was yesterday’s big question in reference to my workout.

For the last hour of work, I was wiped. If you’d been able to guarantee that nobody would have found out, I would have crawled under my desk and curled up for a nap. I kept wavering back and forth between going home to crash and going for a run; in the end, the run won out, and I headed here:

Source: Bill.Lepere Photography

I promised myself that I’d keep a comfortably easy pace and that if I still felt excruciatingly tired after I hit my first landmark, I’d turn around and walk back to my car and head home.

As I passed that landmark, I was feeling AMAZING. Physically, I wasn’t feeling any of the drain that had been nagging me all afternoon, and I was genuinely enjoying the run itself. I was so impressed with how my body was cooperating. The weather seemed to be perfectly aligned for a long run too – for the first time in weeks, the Florida sun wasn’t out to roast everything in sight, and the clouds had brought in substantial breeze.

As I approached the country club where I park, I wasn’t out of breath and none of my muscles were cramping – I felt strong! At that point, I decided to go for a second loop. I figured I’d run until it stopped feeling good and would walk the rest of the distance. Ya wanna know something crazy?  

I didn’t stop running. On the day I thought I was too tired to run at all, I ran the farthest distance I’ve run in The History of Ever. I knocked out 5.75 miles – which, to some of you is just a drop in the bucket – but boy, did I feel like a CHAMP!

I was actually wearing this same pink top today! Must be lucky 😉

There is an extremely fine line between wimping out and opting out. A lot of consideration went into this as I tried to make my decision for the evening. When your body is legitimately in need of a rest day, there is absolutely NO shame in giving yourself a break. It’s a different story, though, when you are perfectly good to go but allow yourself to be complacent!

Where then, should we draw the line? The key here is honest evaluation.

Skip it if… Go for it when…
You’re in physical pain. It should go without saying, but when there is a chance of further aggravating any injury, healing takes top priority!

-You’re not adequately rested or nourished. When you’re functioning on less-than-enough food or sleep, the performance in ALL aspects of your day are going to suffer – workout included. Regardless of your intentions in that case, your body is not in a position to be pushed; skip a hard workout and opt for something very gentle, like yoga-based stretching or a low-key walk.

– You’re not willing to give 100%. Forget about being able – that’s a horse of a different color entirely. If you’re not WILLING to give it your all, you’re not going to benefit. While no workout is a failure and any activity is better than none, practice makes PERMANENT, not perfect. If your training is half-assed, you’re going to do little more than teach your body to operate in poor form.

– You’re able and willing to sub out another form of activity. This one doesn’t really apply if you have a physical reason for skipping, but if you genuinely just can’t stomach the idea of another run/spinning class/etc, find an alternate activity that shakes up your routine and gets your blood flowing.

– The drain you’re experiencing is mental or physical. A long day at the office tends to make rum more appealing than a run, yet cardio is one of the fastest mood-boosters around. Not to go all Elle Woods here, but “exercise releases endorphins, endorphins make you happy, and happy people JUST DONT KILL THEIR HUSBANDS!”

– You’re on the tail end of a rest day (or days). There’s nothing easier to rationalize than just one more day on the couch when you’ve just taken four. The excuses start to come easier and easier the longer you stay out of the groove. Don’t let yourself fall back into the trap! Despite the intense butt-to-couch attraction, haul yourself up and get back in the groove.

– You can’t quite put your finger on your reason for staying home. In cases like this, it’s likely a mental block rather than a physical obstacle. Pull together some grit and motivation and show yourself what you’re made of.

– You can honestly say you won’t regret taking the day off. Dig deep here. Are you blowing off the gym for instant gratification, or is there a solid reason? Certain situations take priority over a workout, and when you’ve got no qualms about your reasoning, you’ve got your get-out-of-gym free card.

Remember: if you still feel genuinely miserable mid-workout, you can always call it quits. Chances are, though, that the negative factors will slip away and you’ll want to power through like the athlete that you are!

If I go there will be trouble…and if I stay there will be double!

How often do you take a rest day from a exercise routine? How do YOU know when it’s time to pull the white flag?

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5 Comments on “Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?”

  1. greensandjeans says:

    I take a day off once a week. It took me a long time to come to terms with how important that day is for me!

  2. hehe love the Elle Woods reference!
    I have been in such a workout rut lately- I make so many excuses not to go and am always tired after work- I need to get my booty in gear!

  3. Susan says:

    I take at least one rest day a week, sometimes even two or three! i dunno, I like having really intense workouts, and I’ve finally realized I can’t do that every single day. So if I want to give 100%, I need to rest 100% in between. Sounds like a beautiful run 🙂

  4. I take a few rest days a week, depending on what each day brings. Sometimes I try to go with active recovery though and go for a walk or do a short yoga podcast instead of being completely sedentary!

    (Thanks for checking out my blog BTW. )

  5. Danielle says:

    Hey girl, everytime I try & click on your link it doesn’t work! Just lettin ya know 🙂

    I’m glad the run went well!


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