Last year, after interviewing Atlanta-based running coach Janet Hamilton for a Women’s Running story, I wrote a post titled “Fitness tip of the week: Listen to the whispers” based on the following insight from her:
“If you tune in to your body’s little whispers, it will never have to shout at you,” she said.
A year later, I have, indeed gotten better at paying more attention to my body’s whispers—noticing when the soreness in my quads hasn’t abated several days after a hard workout, or when I feel a twinge of pain in my hip or knee or ankle. But over the weekend, I realized that while I’m lots better about listening to my body’s whispers, I’m still not adept at actually following its advice.
I noticed I was feeling run-down and off-balance two Fridays ago, when I had a swim date with Katie at Run This Amazing Day. I felt icky and tired in the water, and retreated to the hot tub, making moany-groany noises, after about 1,000 meters (I’d planned for at least 3,000). This icky feeling, which persisted throughout the weekend, was my body saying: “Psst. Hey. Take it easy on me, huh?”
Instead, I proceeded to attack my weekend exactly as I’d planned, staying out late for a birthday party Friday night, backpacking the next two days, then sailing through my planned workouts that next week. I should have come as no surprise that this past Friday, I woke up with a killer sore throat that has mostly kept me in bed all weekend. This was my body saying: “GOOD GOD STOP NOW YOU HORRIBLE MADWOMAN!” It’s beyond shouting—it’s writing that message on the mirror in red lipstick, horror-movie style.
So how am I motivated by this turn of events? I learned something important about my body, albeit the hard way. As people who run, swim and otherwise move their bodies, we have a gift of being extra-attuned to those whispers. And if we’re smart—which I certainly will be in the future—we’ll not only pay attention, but will act accordingly.