Don't listen to your body

Posted on Sep 16, 2018

In the quest to become better than the runner you were yesterday, I would argue that it is required of you to not listen to your body.

Allow me to elaborate. The body is a miraculous machine. The very fact that people are able to run such absurd distances is a feat of this very machine. But it is important to, in training, not listen to this very same machine.

The body, simply put, hates effort. Even the neuron structures in the mind, optimise for least work. The body doesn’t like to work. It prioritizes comfort over effort.

It is a contradictory point. Yes. It’s the very same body that allows us to even run this. Why? It’s because of the mind. It’s because YOU as the runner, want to run that distance, in that time. So your body, despite its multiple attempts to red sign you into stopping, gives in. This is that point of sync that most of us have experienced when running. The body and mind are one. They are giving to each other instead of taking from themselves. And that’s when the machine becomes unstoppable.

How do we reach this point of sync? Ignore the body’s signs.

The body broadly sends 2 types of signals:

  1. “This isn’t comfortable, stop”
  2. “you’ll hurt yourself if you keep exerting in this manner”

Ignore (1), listen to (2). (2) will save you from injuries. The body does know itself better than you do.

Running is hard work. It’s hard for everyone. Even the greatest athletes. They just have learnt the art of reading signs in their body better than we can just yet.

When you run a 6 min KM and then you feel good enough to push for a 5 min KM the next time, your body immediately says “oh you’ve done great. now slow” and if you go down to anything > 6, then you’ve let the body win over your mind. Clearly it was capable of doing the 6 right before the 5. So it still is capable of that very same effort. Just doesn’t want to do it.

That’s why the very nature of interval training capitalizes on this. You give and take. And through this, you stay consistent. You run X meters at the fastest you can (body hates you here) and then the next Y meters at a slow pace (body is loving you) and then you repeat this for some Z kilometers. Then you slowly begin reducing the Y and increasing the X. This way you are slowly coaxing your body to not be an asshole. And believe me when I say that the X meters you run, will be VERY hard. You’re not running fast; you’re running as-fast-as-you-can. Every muscle will be rejecting your mind’s decision. If you listen, you end up stopping. If you listen, you lose that consistency.

Baseline — You’re in control of the mind, and the mind only. Your body has a connection to the mind as well. Keep your resolve over the mind stronger than the body does. That way you overrule its decisions.

Consistency helps your body optimize for it. If it has run the same X/Y combination over a week, then its like “Oh they’re doing this often. Maybe its important. I’ll optimize my paths for it and be ready” and that’s what we’re aiming for. In our minds, all of us are already runners. We begin to actually become one only when we learn to convince our bodies of believing this fact.