I’m not a big fan of ‘always’ and ‘never’ statements. I take them too literally. There are so few cases where never really means never.
I always (!) hated taking true/false exams for exactly this reason. Poorly written questions drive me nuts. For example: True or False: The sky is always blue. It’s true in the casual non-scientific sense, but on a cloudy day, the sky is gray and during a vivid sunset it’s orange, not blue. Do I go with the answer that is technically correct or with the commonly held (but technically incorrect) answer?
…Sorry, I got lost in a standardized test flashback there for a second…
My hatred of always/never statements notwithstanding, there are a few things that runners should, in fact, pretty much never do.
Things A Runner Should Never Do
Why should you never (there’s that word again) do these things?
Because doing them won’t benefit you or your running.
Doing them indulges the little monster inside you that tries to make your insecurities win. Or they prioritize comfort over progress.
NEVER Let Excuses Win
It’s too hot, too cold, too rainy, too humid. I’m tired. I’m worn down after a long day at work. The laundry won’t do itself. I should spend time with the husband or the kids. I need to watch the latest episode of that show so I can talk about it with the people at work.
At any given moment, I can come up with (at least) a dozen excuses to not go for a run.
These excuses are valid roughly zero percent of the time.
Be stronger than your excuses
NEVER Obsess Over Numbers
Some days you’ll feel great and your pace will kick ass. Other days will be a total slog and your pace will be slower than molasses.
Your weight will fluctuate without any rhyme or reason.
If you are a data person, take note of the numbers, but don’t obsess over them. If you aren’t a data person, now is not the time to become one.
Pay attention to how you feel. Track and notice patterns.
Do you feel super sluggish the morning after you ate dinner late? Do you totally rock every run after you go to bed at a decent hour?
How you feel may or may not be reflected in the data point.
NEVER Judge A Run By The First Mile
Especially during marathon training long runs, it can a few miles to get into the groove of a run.
If you are a few minutes into a run, and it’s a total slog, and everything feels like crap, don’t immediately turn around and go home.
Give it a mile or two.
Maybe it will be what some runners call a longgoner (a run you knew right from the first mile was going to suck in every way imaginable) – we all will have occasional runs that never get better – but based on my experience, they usually get at least a little bit better once you (eventually) find your rhythm.
And on a few rare and blessed occasions, they get downright easy.
Don’t compare yourself, your training regimen, or your running progress, to anyone.
Not your running buddy, not an elite runner, not to what you ran in college, and not against your future self who you dream you could be someday.
Layout a training plan with realistic goals (with the help of a coach if needed), and compare yourself to the progress that you have set out in the plan.
Everyone else is doing their own thing and it isn’t relevant to you or your progress in any way.
NEVER Ignore What Your Body Is Telling You
You should never ignore what your body tells you. It will tell you when you are hungry or thirsty, or when you are pushing too hard, or is on the verge of injury.
Listen to what your body says. However, you should (often) ignore what your brain tells you.
It can take newer runners awhile to tell the difference, but it’s an important distinction.
Your mind will tell you that you are tired long before your body actually is. It will tell you to stop long before your body has to. Your mind will tell you that you are hungry for cupcakes when your body needs vitamins and minerals in vegetables.
It takes time and experience to be able to tell the difference (and even with experience it can sometimes be hard to tell) but there is almost always a difference.
Listen to the body, ignore the mind.
NEVER Ignore Rest and Recovery
You can’t go 110% 100% of the time.
To even try is just begging for injury.
Depending on your temperament and your training schedule, your rest/recovery day(s) could be a total rest day, cross training, or an easy run day.
Whatever your preference, do it. Put your feet up (once in a while).
Resting is as much a part of training as the hardest track workout ever devised.