Keeping the ‘Big Picture’ in Mind

It’s Friday morning. I’ve run 27 miles this week and still have another 21 ahead - including a long run on a trail, yes, with incline and hence lots of climbing - to keep on track with my marathon training plan.

After a combined elevation gain of 3,850 feet on the trails so far this week, my feet looked like this:

No, those aren't tan lines. . .

No, those aren’t tan lines. . .

So, I decided that as a reward for all of their hard work (and in preparation for my cousin’s wedding this weekend – I’ll be seeing two guys on which I had MAJOR crushes on in middle and high school and might want to make them want to eat their hearts out for juuuuuust a split second!), my poor, tired little tootsies had earned a pedicure on my mid-week day off:

Forget cute little penguins. These are the true definition of happy feet!

Forget cute little penguins. These are the true definition of happy feet!

Before the pretty nail polish, the heated water jets in the pedicure chair felt sooooooo gooooood on my feet. I made it a point to sit uncomfortably in the chair so that I could aim the jets at each foot’s arch – Not quite my typical lacrosse ball therapy, but it still made me say “AAAAWWWW!”

That was my first ‘rest’ day this week, and it was followed by another one yesterday. No, I didn’t take the day off. I ran. In fact, sometimes I catch myself daydreaming about how nice a run would feel at that moment, which, yesterday, struck me on my drive home from work. I ran, BUT I ran nice and easy and took in some of the sights and sounds of beautiful Cheeseman Park.

And, when I wanted to pick up the pace, I refrained, honestly not because I wanted to, but because my legs told me to. As much as my head tells me to ‘Go, go, GOOOOOO!’ I will most definitely go with the higher power, in this case, my body. If it gives out on me, I’m toast – and so is my marathon in August.

I am by no means a running expert, but I can confidently say that I’ve run enough to know my limits – when I can push them, and especially when I can’t. I started my run last night thinking I’d add another 1.25 miles – an extra lap in Cheeseman Park – to the routine. About a mile in, though, my legs rewrote my agenda for me. And guess what? I LISTENED!!!

At the end of the day, the important thing is to remember why you’re training in the first place. Keep the ‘big picture’ in mind. I didn’t grapple with my decision to cut my run back a bit last night. Had I thought any more on it, though, it would have been a no brainer: Run a little extra on tired legs on Thursday knowing that you have a tough trail run coming up on Saturday. Um, NO!

Putting more effort into a tough trail run will certainly serve me better climbing Pikes Peak in August than would putting more effort into an extra lap through a relatively flat park. Big picture, peeps!

Hmm, I wonder what my legs have on the agenda for my 5 miler tonight. . .

Melissa Mincic, Ph.D., conducts child development research and works to improve the lives of young children at the University of Denver and is a long-time road and trail runner. Follow Melissa on Twitter at @nerdinrunshoes.

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