Running On Empty, Thinking You’re Full

One of the hardest things about running is making yourself go out when you’re tired, or when you need to push yourself to a longer distance during training — running when you don’t feel like it, in other words.

What’s even harder is when you want to run but you can’t: your body won’t let you.

I came down with a cold on Sunday. It wasn’t an especially bad one, but the early stages made me feel tired and light-headed which is always a sign to me that I need to rest. I had been planning on doing a seven miler and I had been ready for it the day before, but even as I was stumbling around before breakfast on Sunday I could tell that my body was telling me it was a bad idea. I took Monday off too, because I still felt weak.

Yesterday I needed a run. I was getting twitchy at my desk, and although I was still feeling a bit coldy, it wasn’t affecting me mentally so I figured I would be fine. The problem was time: I was looking at my meeting schedule wondering how I was going to fit in a run.

Then I realised that I was looking at the wrong calendar, and all my meetings had actually been cancelled for the day.

So I picked up my bag and went out.

I’d been running for about two minutes when the doubts I’d been supressing my fitness became unavoidable: this was a bad idea, my body was telling me. I felt completely boneless.

Is there a lesson here?

If there is, it’s one I haven’t learned yet.

There are lots of things that cut into my running: injury, illness, other commitments. I can work around the other commitments and I can manage injury, but illness is hard because it not only weakens my body, but confuses my already poorly calibrated sense of what my body can do at any given time. I mean, there are times when it is really obvious that I’m not going out, but there are other times on the shoulders of illness or when I’m only a little bit sick that I try to do things I can’t actually do.

At least I still try. I should probably worry when I stop trying.

But for now, I think I will try and run on Friday, hoping that the cold has buggered off by then.

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