What does “listen to your body” really mean? Q&A with Coach #15 has the answer

If you buy any running book you’ll see the phrase “listen to your body.” But what does this mean practically, on a day to day basis?

For new or beginner runners, it’s hard to listen to this type of advice. You don’t speak the language of your body yet, so how can you listen?

Knowing whether a certain pain is “bad” or harmless – or differentiating between fatigue and being over-trained – is a skill.

And like any skill, it takes time to develop and learn over time.

Listening to your body means translating the hundreds of signals you’re receiving:

  • The sound of your feet hitting the ground
  • How you’re breathing
  • The responsiveness of your legs
  • How the overall effort level of a given pace feels
  • The impact of terrain on perceived effort

That’s a lot to decipher, especially if you’re a new runner!

Since we’re celebrating the release of my new book for beginners Running for Health & Happiness this is a great question to answer today.

But before we do, did you know that the book topped the Amazon Kindle charts for the Running category? Yes we hit #1 in the Running & Jogging category earlier this week!
Running for Health and Happiness #1 Best Seller

Perhaps more impressive than its sales record are all of the positive reviews. It makes my day to hear feedback like:

Jason is straightforward and thorough. He knows what he is talking about and new runners would benefit greatly from reading what he has written.

No nonsense, straight up advice on do’s and don’ts.

I would recommend this book to any runner – the information is laid out clearly and it is written for all levels of abilities.

Thank you to each and every person who left a review. It makes a BIG difference and you’re all entered into the giveaway for a free coaching program (more info on that is below).

And remember, just in case you don’t have a Kindle, you can download the free Kindle PC Reader or simply download the book as an instant PDF.

Ok, let’s dive into today’s question.

How to Listen to Your Body

This topic features Q&A with Coach Episode #15 with my friend Scott Jones, a personal trainer, race director, and prolific podcaster.

I wanted to chat with Scott about this topic because he’s a runner but not a running coach and works with many private clients in the Denver, CO area as a PT.  This perspective added a lot of nuance to today’s show.

Remember these takeaways from this show:

  1. Listening to your body means translating the signals it is sending you
  2. Those signals come from heart rate, perceived effort, breathing, how your legs feel (responsive? lethargic? sore?), and your mentate status
  3. Interpreting these signals is a skill that takes time to develop
  4. Take inventory of the language your body is speaking whenever you are struggling and ask “why?”
  5. Listening to your body does not give you excuses to quit; it just gives you feedback that may help you decide it’s best to stop (or run harder!)
  6. The more types of stress your body experiences, the better you’ll be at deciphering these signals

My strong view is that running by feel, listening to your body, and paying attention to perceived effort and the many cues your body is relaying to your brain is the preferred way of training.

There are countless examples of top coaches adhering to this philosophy, like Mark Wetmore at the University of Colorado disliking heart rate monitors. Matt Fitzgerald has even wrote an entire book on the topic.

I encourage you to rely less on external feedback and instead rely more on internal feedback. It’s more subjective, but valuable, in the long run (pun!).

The Book Giveaway is Ending Soon!

This weekend is your last chance to be entered into the big book giveaway.

TEN winners will get their choice of:

  • The Full Injury Prevention for Runners program ($149 value)
  • A custom training plan ($119 value)

So far each entrant has a 76% chance of winning so what are you waiting for?

Just buy the book here and leave an honest review on Amazon. Then email me that you left a review and I’ll add you to the giveaway.

The deadline is Sunday, 8/30 so don’t wait!

And even if you don’t get the book, that’s cool with me. The SR blog will always will be free. I absolutely love publishing actionable, free coaching material here and you’ll always have that resource.

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Comments

  1. Listening to your body is one of the toughest things an athletes needs to learn. As a baseball pitcher, I had a decent feel for my body, but nothing beats an outside source. In my case, a coach can spot things that I would overlook.

    On days when I thought I felt great, the intensity of competition may have prevented me from missing the signs. But a coach or trusted teammate can sometimes deliver the words you need to hear (rather than the ones you want).

    Sometimes, it’s just not your day. Take a rest. Tomorrow will be there soon enough!

    Matt