Earlier this year I wrote about taking up running again after 30 years. My primary goal for running over 50 is to enjoy it and not get injured. Every choice I make around running is informed by this overarching goal. In the post, I mentioned five things I’ve chosen to do to keep my running enjoyable and injury-free. Number two was to listen to your body.
Developing the skill of listening to your body is no different than learning to be a good listener in general. It takes time. And you can always improve. There’s an adage “If you listen to your body when it whispers, you won’t have to hear it scream.” What’s left unsaid is that you have to hear what your body is whispering and then act on it.
It’s one thing to listen to your body. It’s another to hear what it’s telling you. And it’s yet another to take what you hear and make the necessary changes.
Listening is not easy. But it’s the easy part. Implementing changes is the hard part. Change is a threat to your routine. You and I like our routines. They’re comfortable—because they’re familiar. I’m sure you’ve had the experience of trying to add some new seemingly small activity or behavior into your daily routine only to find how difficult it is. Maybe you can do it for a week but consistently is a whole other ball game.
One of my main goals in life is to do what I can to feel the best I can in a body that has limitations. I’ve been managing a body with chronic pain since I was 19. I’ve had lots of practice learning to listen to my body. Early on many times, I didn’t—for various reasons. But it was critical I eventually learned to listen, hear, and make changes as necessary. Hopefully, you haven’t been dealing with chronic pain. But you may be getting older and beginning to experience changes in your body. Maybe your body is being a bit more insistent that you listen to it than when you were younger.
Here are some examples of how I implement this in my daily life:
Running: Listening to my body, hearing what it’s telling me, and making necessary changes means if something is not feeling right one day, I’m not wedded to a specific workout plan. If I need to walk instead of run that day, I will. And listening to my body also goes for my warmup. Sometimes I need to do a longer warmup, sometimes shorter is OK. I recently pulled one of my butt muscles. I’m not sure how I managed it but I think it was when I was out gardening. But I’ve had to make some changes while it recovers. I’m exploring different warm-ups and running shorter intervals—even though I’ve signed up to do a 5K on May 31. My body takes priority over any pre-determined training plan.
Sleeping: Sleep is one of my priorities. That means when I’m tired I go to bed. Usually, it’s quite early—by 9 o’clock. Other times for whatever reason, it’s earlier or a bit later. I don’t stay up to finish the latest installment of the series I’m watching on Netflix or get to the end of the chapter in my novel. I just stop. And go to bed.
Cooking: I love to cook. I learned many years ago that although I like the idea of batch cooking my body just doesn’t like it. Four hours standing in the kitchen once or twice a week just doesn’t work for my body. So instead, I cook for smaller amounts of time. Recently it’s been more difficult for me to cook later in the day. I’m not sure why but I think my body is simply more tired at the end of the day. It’s harder to use myself as well as I want to. I’ve rearranged things so on a day when I want to cook dinner at home I can cook my dinner in the morning when I’m fresh. That’s a big change to my schedule. But when I do it my body thanks me for it.
Is your body asking you to listen more often? Do you hear what it’s asking for? Making the changes your body needs, however small is difficult. Be kind to yourself and remember we’re all a work in progress.
P.S. If you like this blog and are craving more information on moving better and feeling better sign up for my monthly e-newsletter. When you sign up you’ll get a free booklet with tips for exploring your posture (that has nothing to do with standing up straight and pulling your shoulders back. I promise!). And once or twice a month I’ll pop into your inbox with new ideas for you to experiment with. In addition, you’ll be the first to know about any upcoming events, local, or online.
Image by geralt at Pixabay