Just Say No: 10 Reasons Why To Not Run Today (what?)

If you haven’t picked up on it yet from the header, or the title, or the day after day incessant ramblings on the very topic itself, then hear it now: this is most definitely a blog about running, a love of running, and a healthy obsession with anything that will make me a stronger (note, not faster or Olympic contending) runner. Yet while there are days when I reach double digits, weeks when I bang out 30+ miles, and months when all I can remember doing before the hour of 8 am is hitting the paved roads in Central Park, there will always be moments — perhaps even somewhat extended moments — when I will simply don’t run at all.

These breaks are never without reason though, and they are never planned in advance. Rather, I trust my body; I trust my gut. I listen to what I’m feeling and I heed whatever my brain and heart are telling me. If you can master this, then I wholeheartedly believe you’ll be well on your way to abandoning the old woe-is-me-I-didn’t-run-today guilt. (Though still, I’m admittedly not immune to it either.)

I know that as the writer of a rah-rah-running blog, I’m probably supposed to talk about why you should be running, and exercising, and eating healthy like, all the time. In my very unprofessional opinion, however, physical and mental health are also extremely dependent on rest and, more importantly, a firm understanding of your limitations as a — wait for it — human.

As much as we like to think it — as much as like to think it — we are not superhuman beings, and while there’s nothing wrong with striving for perfection, there’s also nothing wrong with accepting our flaws. I think that’s a strength in itself, but then again, that’s just me.

Anyway.

Here I am on Thursday morning (though you’ll likely be reading this on Friday), sitting in bed in tie dye bootie shorts and a super comfy tank around the time when I’d usually be walking back into my apartment, soaked in sweat, and brimming from ear to ear after my ritual morning run.

And although there aren’t many times in which I can genuinely sit here and tell you that I think it’s a good idea to forgo my morning workout, I certainly believe that there are plenty of deterrents that need to be accounted for when it comes to your overall health and well-being. (Writing all day every day about health and wellness may be one of those reasons why I’m so hyper-conscious of this all the freaking time now.)

Something’s not right? Cut yourself some slack and give yourself a break. Running will always be there, but if you hurt, bend, twist, snap or otherwise overdo it today, you might find yourself sitting on the sidelines tomorrow.

These are the 10 reasons why I might re-consider running; and should you find yourself in a scenario in which you’re questioning the intelligence of a run or any workout, I hope you’ll scan the check list too.

1. Fever

I’m starting with this because it’s one of the two reasons why I’m not running right now. With a bug circulating my office, I naturally began to pick up on the symptoms. As of this second, I don’t have a temperature, but I’ve been battling that borderline fever feeling since yesterday sometime during yoga. I can only assume that a run would exacerbate this sense of fatigue, making it a bad idea to get out there.

2. Fatigue

While we’re on the topic of it, there are two types of fatigue we need to differentiate between. If you wake up in the morning and you don’t want to get out of bed, or if you’ve just gotten home from the office and you’re in the mood for a date with your couch, then you’re not fatigued. You’re just being lazy. No one likes to get up in the morning or exercise after work. Make a decision, choose one, and suck it up.

Then there’s the type of fatigue where your body feels like a rock from head to toe; your eyes are closing; your fingers are tingling. This type of fatigue hits after a long or hard run or when you’re on the edge of a fever. In this case, your body may truly need rest. Listen to it if it does.

3. Lingering Pain

A morning without sweat used to mean an afternoon and an evening of frustration. And it wasn’t just the “guilt” of not exercising. Science has my back on this one; the ensuing lethargy can for sure be attributed to a lack-o’-endorphins in my system.

I’ve since learned that, sometimes, it’s the day of rest that enables you to run harder, faster and stronger afterward. With piriformis syndrome, I know that pushing my muscles can potentially knock me out for days. Rather than push it, I now choose to accept that I have it, to rest it thoroughly, to stretch, and to make my big return as soon as it doesn’t hurt to sit in a chair for more than 20 minutes at a time. (Editors note: The irony of piriformis syndrome is that it doesn’t hurt when running, but the pain flares up when sitting in one position.)

4. Race Preparation

I really fudged the bucket on this one recently, when I spent all week preparing for the Governors Island 10k, resting fully on Friday, and then ran 10 miles on Saturday, less than 24 hours before the race. I don’t regret it; Saturday’s was an amazing, unforgettable run. I just don’t recommend it. If you’re preparing for a race, you should typically take a day off at some point, if your goal is to run strong during the event.

5. Uncooperative Stomach

There are some serious running rockstars who are undeterred by their GI conditions, and coming from a family ripe with them, I give those like Ali on the Run a tremendous amount of credit. At times, her blog makes me actually well up, knowing just how much physical and emotional pain those types of conditions can cause, and how strong she is for running despite it. Truthfully, if put in similar circumstances, I don’t think I could.

That said, I definitely cannot run when my stomach is uncooperative. I’m scared; I’m a wimp; I’ve had enough Starbucks experiences to know that I’d prefer not to deal with them when possible. Instead, I usually use those mornings as excuses to strength train in front of my TV, in my own apartment. For me, it’s simply not worth the anxiety.

6. Running Slump

I know, I know, I know. The only true way to get out of a running slump is to get out there and show your body how great you feel after working out. Oftentimes, sure, this is the antidote.

Let’s be honest though. When you run, or try to run, nearly every day, most mortals will be bound to reach some point when they need a freaking break! I’m not even sure I could eat candy every day of my life if that’s what it came down to. Most days? Absolutely. But monotony is the beginning of boredom, and boredom is the foundation for a screw-it type of mentality.

I sometimes find, though, that taking that one day off — you know, that one day that won’t kill you — can actually help to rekindle my love for running as little as 24 hours later. It’s like winding up a toy car.

7. Excessive Heat

Throw me outdoors in a blizzard, and I’ll be the first one to run in it. Heat though? Frankly, I just think this is unsafe, even though I know a ton of runners who do it.

Remember, if you are going to run in heat, wear light, breathable, white clothing, and strap on a fuel belt. (I run with a handheld water bottle, pictured right.) Plan your runs around water fountains and shade, and stop if you feel light headed. Summer’s only just getting started.

8. Unknown — Unsafe — Territory

I’ve read a lot of really heartbreaking, frightening and eye-opening tales on fellow runners’ blogs lately about friends going out and being abducted, robbed, or worse. Even in New York City, not to freak anyone out, I’ve heard my share of stories. Bottom line is, know your surroundings. Know your territory. Tell someone where you are going. And for goodness sake, don’t run on shady paths early in the morning or after sundown.

A personal example: Recently, when I was upstate New York fishing, I went on a jog around the lake to check out some trails.

My plan was to run 5 miles around the lake, but when I got about 2 miles in, I realized that I was the only person in sight, and I suddenly got uncomfortable. I immediately texted my brother to let him know where I was, and headed back toward the cabin, finishing off my run near other campers (even if it meant cutting it short slightly).

9. Hail, Lightening and Downpours

I’m the first to say that there is nothing like running in a little light rain, but once we move into the danger zone, I’m also the first to say, get the hell out of there and find some shelter. Lightening? You won’t find me running in that. Hail? I bruise way too easily to subject myself to pellets of ice. Even the rain-only downpour will drive me back inside. Wet socks are a recipe for blisters and disaster, which is only another reason for me to bitch and moan.

10. An Important Event–Soon! 

The old, “Will I have time to do my hair?” dilemma is faced presumably by most women and no men at all. And yet I find myself contemplating whether I really have enough time for a run all the time. Usually, it means I just end up going to said event with wet hair or a bun, even if I’d have preferred it to be silky and straight. It’s all about priorities though. If I had a really important event where I was meeting Edward Norton in, like, an hour? Skip it. It’s all about priorities.

  • What would be one of the few (or many!) reasons why you wouldn’t run?

21 thoughts on “Just Say No: 10 Reasons Why To Not Run Today (what?)

  1. IT band :( seems like it’ll never heal!!! I’ve switched to biking but I don’t get that same heart swelling, love myself, accomplishment type feeling as I’d get from running.

      • No specialist – no insurance coverage for that! I have been reading up about it and watching other’s videos on YouTube and whatnot showing how they foam rolled and their recovery stories. Not as good as professional help I’m sure but the best option I’ve got right now!

  2. It is important to listen to your body. My best runs (and rides) are usually after I have had a day off, I come back stronger. Mentally and physically everyone needs a break once in a while.

    • It’s SO hard sometimes to take that day off, but as runners/bikers we sometimes have to listen to our bodies in that way in order to maximize our performance. Sometimes it sucks, but sometimes it’s freaking awesome when we fly down a road on foot (or wheels) the next day!

  3. love this post. my list basically lines up with yours. important not to feel guilty for skipping out every now and then! thanks for writing this. i might slip out of my running clothes and back into my pajamas now…. :)

    • Thanks! My piriformis feels better today, but I’m contemplating whether it’s a good idea to jump right back into it on my first day of relief. Maybe strength training would be better. Hm.

  4. I think this is an awesome list, and well timed, too, as I am feeling guilty for not working out yesterday. At the same time, Thursdays are kind of a built in “rest day” for me, as that’s the day I have something scheduled in the evenings, and starting in September, I’ll be back in school Thursday nights.

    For me, I have to be conscientious to not make excuses and then that one rest days becomes a string of them. Sometimes, having the momentum of “I’m on a streak!” keeps me going… but definitely leads to exhausted and flumpy-feeling runs.

      • Truthfully, I am a big fan of sticking with what you know in terms of morning and evening workouts, though a little change up never hurt anyone. Thanks for the input! I can relate to the “built in” rest days, though sometimes I find I’d prefer to choose my non workout days by the weather. For example, this weekend will be 95 degrees! Ahh.

      • Thank you for the support :) A change up is always good; it’s good to know morning running, otherwise, most races would be a no go ;)

        *nod* Agreed. This weekend, while I had slated to do some running, will be some strength training, yoga, and perhaps some inplace running with the Wii!

        Stay cool out there this weekend!

  5. i did my first ever workout class (big deal for me. like *big* monumental deal) on tuesday, and i’m somehow more sore 2-3 days post-class than i was the first day after. it was a body pump class, aka barbell/squats/pushups (i didn’t really do the pushups because i literally and physically cannot)/lunges/situps for 55 minutes. i’ve only done free weights and weight machines, but i’ve never used a barbell. it was a challenge, but i stuck with it. i guess the whole no pain, no gain saying is 100% true.

    i’m always super hard on myself for missing a workout, but since i can barely sit down, move my arms, that type of thing, i’ve cut myself some slack. i still made myself do situps, 10 minutes of yoga poses, and *some* free weights work on wednesday, and then succumbed to all-over-body-pain and fatigue last night. will go do cardio tonight and attempt doing body pump again tomorrow AM, and see what sunday brings.

    • Look at you! That’s awesome though. I definitely get the significance of a workout class; as you know, I never do ’em either. That 2-3 day post-class burn is a real bitch though, and that class sounds SERIOUSLY hard core. You ARE always hard on yourself! Though when you’re working toward a goal, that only means you’re committed, which is really commendable, as you know. Keep working your ass off. You’re a freaking beast.

  6. One of the reasons I need to get better at identifying is when my heart isnt in it. Those are the days that I hate running, cut routes short, and basically waste my time. I need to learn that it’s a valid reason to reschedule a run (NOT to cancel it)!

    • I like that idea of “rescheduling,” not canceling. Committing to another time when you can really work, not slacking off and half assing what you’re doing. Hmm, food for thought.

  7. I know this has become cliche, but I firmly believe that rest days are just as important as training days. I know from experience that running when you have a fever, are fatigued, in excessive heat, etc. is not ever worth it. Great post!

    • Thanks! (Always good to get confirmation when you’re talking about NOT running. It’s practically blasphemous.) Now, to contemplate this weekend – 95 degrees here in NYC!

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