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Is More Really Better?

As I’m getting ready to run my third trail Ultra next weekend, I’ve been thinking about training (and the amount of training I do) a lot.

I’m used to being on my lonesome when it comes to training and what I was doing to get better at the sport. However,  now I am surrounded with passionate runners who know exactly what and how much to do, well I’ve really been thinking where’s my place in all of that.

The truth is that I have been running a lot more now than I had before my last Ultra, but the difference is how I’ve been running. Back then I was almost terrified if I didn’t get enough of those long runs, so even if I fell short on the shorter ones, I ranked up on those really long ones, just to be sure. Now, I’ve been running more often, almost daily at times, but shorter distances and really listening to my body.

And the reasoning for me to take it easier (in a way) and being respectful to my body has been that I’ve read a lot about great elite trail runners just killing themselves with over training and also seen from close how that can just stop you cold. As in your body saying “STOP”. I’ve gone through that myself too, couple of years ago.

I recently read a couple of  great articles about over training syndrome and adrenal fatigue, something that really can touch the everyday runner too.

I feel that we are surrounded by this pressure and need to get faster and stronger, while we are also living the life that is full of speed on it’s own, stress coming out of our ears and never getting enough sleep. The fact that we always have to be “ON”, isn’t making our bodies any better. And when there’s never the understanding that rest is actually more important than pushing for us to get faster and stronger, we never listen to our bodies enough to do exactly that. Rest. Sleep. And that doesn’t mean just sleep during the weekends and try to claw back what we missed during the week, our bodies don’t work like that. It’s about consistency.

Even though our overall kilometers might not come even close to what the pro’s have, we still have the same bodies to listen too. We’re probably all guilty of wanting to push ourselves to be ‘better’ too fast. Progress actually takes a lot more time than we want it to. Building a base for your body to take all those workouts can take up to two years. So we really shouldn’t be too pissed off if we aren’t where our friends who’ve been running way longer and have that base under their feet.

Especially so when life throws curve balls (or is just what it is these days) we need to give our bodies and mind so much more downtime to be able to push when we want to.

Things that we should or could ask ourselves:
– Am I getting enough sleep? 8 hours a night?
– Am I giving myself enough downtime without any technology or other people? Yeah that old school life.
– Am I hydrating myself enough? That 2 litres a day people.
– Am I eating enough and the kind of food that really helps me? Remember your greens.
– Are my magnesium levels okay? Usually not, as magnesium deficiency can come out as so many different symptoms that it’s sometimes hard to detect, but it’s good to check.
– Am I really happy with what I’m doing, or am I pushing myself because I feel that that’s what I’m supposed to do? Make a list of things that do make you happy.
– Are my iron levels okay (this one is for ladies)? Active ladies sometimes have this problem.

I’ve been asking myself these things a lot lately, just because I’ve gone through big life changes in quite little time (all the while knowing that I have a race coming up). But mostly because they are important things to ask.

I think it’s even more crucial in the middle of huge changes to really take a little moment to yourself daily. It might mean 10 minute meditation, or reading a book rather than watching tv, drinking a cup of tea or coffee and enjoying the sunshine or rain. But in a world where we need to be everywhere all the time and be on all the time and always more, it’s really good to take a moment and check if you feel okay.

In social media, I see too often how people talk about their lives and training in a bit negative way, like they aren’t ever happy with what they do. Which is quite sad, especially if we talk about running, something we should do because we love to do it, not because someone is making us.
So instead be happy and be proud of what you did, you will feel the benefits in your body. And be happy with those days too when you feel that today is better for me to rest. There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s just smart.

So if you’re not able to follow your original plan for some race or just in general, don’t beat yourself about it. Just go for a run and run for the joy of it.

The good thing is that our bodies are a lot smarter than our heads, the bad thing is that we tend to think that we know better… Until our bodies make the decision for us. What we think we become, so think positive things about what you do and yourself and you feel good. We might even push ourselves so far that we have really bad pains in our body, that has nothing to do with an injury, all with our minds. That is part of over training and adrenal fatigue. Listen to your body is the thing!

So if more really better? I don’t think so. When we are in the more of everything mind, we tend to forget why we even do the things we do. And once running goes over that point of being fun, you should stop and listen to your body and ask yourself if you just need a break.

And the reason I’m ready for my next race is the fact that I’ve listened to my body, respected the need to rest and take moments for myself to calm it all. I’ve been meditating to centre the everyday life around me. I’ve been sleeping a lot, because sleeping is awesome. I’ve been hydrating myself and eating a lot more than normally. And with those I know that I will be okay, what ever happens.

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