I hear lots of motivation to not skip a run, to “tough it out,” that if you miss a run you’ll likely become a fat, lazy couch potato with no life ambition. But I think there are times when it’s not only OK to skip a run, but probably the smarter thing for you to do…
While I’m all for positive motivation and am somewhat OCD about my training schedule and not missing a run, tempo, or distance, skipping runs is sometimes necessary and wise. Here are a few of those times:
You’ve wrecked up your knee/back/hip/ankle/spleen but you figure that if you just tough it out you’re going to be fine. There are some injuries that you can brush off (like those scrapes I got from rubbing up against a post while running), but others that include joints and sensitive areas should be looked after. Don’t be a Superman and think you’ll be better off. The truth is, you’re not Superman, Henry Cavill is, so take the break you need, recover, and avoid permanent injury. Sometimes NOT running today will allow you to run for many more days to come.
Even if you’re not a superstar mom who has a rockstar for a husband and takes care of her own kids, you’ll likely run into fatigue at some point in your life. Whether it’s jet lag from flying to Paris for the company’s weekend soccer tournament or staying up the last 32 hours finishing off your dissertation on Justin Bieber’s hair, your body needs rest. Don’t overtax your body and possibly cause injury or illness. Take a break – it’ll do your body good.
Really? You’re not running because of a drippy nose? That may not be cause to call it quits on today’s run, but viral infections and serious illness is enough to set anyone back. Better healthy than not. Running while ill could lead to dehydration, higher fever, or extreme fatigue. You also have to consider fellow pedestrians. Do you really want to be that guy that runs by people sneezing and coughing on them? I thought not.
There’s ways to beat good old mother nature, like a treadmill, or driving somewhere where the weather is better (who doesn’t have time for a road trip?), but if you’re stuck with just your gear and your guts, there are definitely times to step back from playing the hero and spend your time indoors doing some yoga or high-intensity table tennis. You may want to avoid snowstorms, thunderstorms, hurricanes, tornadoes, extreme heat (especially combined with humidity) and raining “cats and dogs” – no need to get bitten on a run.
I’m sure this is likely to be a controversial one, as I’ve heard stories of people running in the midst of all kinds of family drama and heartache. While you definitely can run with complete disregard for life situations that should have your attention, I think it’s really quite selfish. Sometimes you have to drop everything, eliminate all plans for your day, and go be with people you love to support them. Somebody has an accident, a heart attack, there’s a death – there are lots of warranted situations – be a friend and loving family member first. Jerks say, “I’ll be there right after my run.” When relationships are on the line, they should win out, not your selfish need for self-fulfillment.
The reality is that no matter what level you’re at, there are going to be times when you need to take it easy, take a day off even, and push that run to another day. Don’t feel guilty about it. Know your reasons for skipping and make sure they’re viable (An all-you-can-eat donut sale at Krispy Kreme is no reason to push back a run). Discipline is not only pushing yourself to meet your goals and perform to your best, but also to know when to ease up and take a break – for health, safety, or sanity.