Let’s face it: sometimes you just don’t feel like going for a run. And that’s OK. But 9 times out of 10, once you start (and finish), you’re so glad you did. Take a read through this list of common excuses to see whether you should run or take it easy. Ultimately, only you know.
1. “I DON’T HAVE TIME TODAY”
Make your running time non-negotiable by scheduling it into your calendar. Emergencies can crop up, but finding time to run a mile or two boosts your mood considerably and reminds you why you make time for it in the first place. Keep a packed run bag at the ready so you’re always set to sneak out for a quick run.
READ MORE > PACK THE PERFECT BAG FOR RUNS AND WORKOUTS
2. “IT’S RAINING/SNOWING/TSUNAMI-ING OUTSIDE”
The best way to avoid missing your training when bad weather hits is by being prepared with appropriate gear or a backup plan. For rain (without lightning), a waterproof jacket and some high-vis gear should suffice. For snow, a heavy coat and fleece-lined leggings are enough to keep you going. Finally, access to a gym or treadmill is a good backup plan.
3. “I NEED NEW SHOES/SHORTS/SPORTS BRA”
Wanting new gear is no excuse to skip a workout. Many long-time runners happily admit they own 5–10 pairs of running shoes in various states of wear. Instead of waiting until gear is completely used up to buy new, switch to new gear while your old stuff still has a bit of life left in it. If the new shoes fail, you have an old pair to fall back on.
4. “MY ANKLE IS SORE/MY FOOT HURTS”
Recommendation: Run, but be prepared to shut it down
Claire Bowe, physical therapist and founder of Rose Physical Therapy Group, says her rule of thumb when confronted with aches and pains is that you “are allowed to find the pain, but not go through the pain.” So start your run, but once you start feeling that pain — not just minor discomfort — you’re risking injury.
“You have to embrace discomfort as an athlete, but the hard part is deciding when it’s something you need to pay attention to and have it checked out,” says Bernard Condevaux, a physical therapist in Colorado who’s worked with Olympians and pro cyclists for years. He adds that if the pain/discomfort is recurring, jolting or makes you change the way you run, seek help before it becomes a bigger problem that requires a lot of time off the trails, rather than a day or two. “Take a day or two, and if it’s not better, have someone look at it,” he concludes.
5. “I’M TOO STRESSED OUT”
Recommendation: Run, but skip the workout
Save the hard workout for a day when you’re feeling more balance. Exercise is a proven stress reliever, and it’s a great way to tame stress and even ease depression, but as coach Kyle Boorsma says, “you need to consider total life stress. Not just what’s done in training.” Rather than trying to crush your intervals on a day when you’ve been overloaded at work or at home, use this day to take a relaxed run and allow yourself to just cruise, not crush. For new runners, this might even mean taking a hike or a walk: Pick an activity that will make you feel calmer for having done it.
6. “I DIDN’T SLEEP WELL LAST NIGHT”
Recommendation: Run, but skip the workout.
One night of poor sleep shouldn’t hurt your running — so if that’s the case, reduce your intensity and distance. Likely, you had some kind of external factor — work or family stress — to blame for your poor sleep, and luckily, a run can perk you up and decrease stress. If you find yourself consistently sleeping poorly, though, that’s going to put a damper on your ability to recover and make it harder to achieve results with your workouts. If that’s the case, check in with your doctor, who might send you to a sleep specialist to investigate your problem..
READ MORE > HOW THE BEST GET A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP
7. “I HAVE A HEAD COLD”
Recommendation: Run, but reduce your intensity.
There’s no shame in taking a day off. If you’re a little sniffly but otherwise fine, most coaches will tell you to run, just skip the hard efforts. Coaches often tell runners to push through head colds, but the key is to dial down intensity to avoid making the cold worse. “The added stress of sickness must be considered,” says Boorsma. “If you decide to train when sick and overdo it, you might get sick for longer and require even more time to rest — that’s a bad trade off compared to resting for a day, healing faster and getting back to properly stressing your body with training.”
8. “I HAVE A CHEST COLD”
Recommendation: Jog, hike, or skip it.
Traditionally, coaches have suggested skipping or cutting down a workout if your cold is in your chest, versus just in your head. “Occasionally, I might suggest a very light workout if it is a light chest cold,” says endurance coach Tracey Drews. “However, if the athlete starts the workout and is not feeling good I tell them to shut it down. Just cool down and rest.” As Boorsma points out: A day off is better than a week off.