Why You Need a Running “Emergency Action Plan”

Two weeks ago my family visited me in DC which was refreshing for my soul.  I had set up my training program so that the week they were here would be a down week, an easy week.  I planned it this way to maximize family time.  It worked out beautifully.  I loved every minute with them and adored the extra snuggle time, the extra games, the extra love.

As they rolled down the road to head home, I set out for a run.  It felt great and was the perfect way to handle the sorrow I was feeling after saying good bye.  It put me back into my routine and set me up for a smooth transition.  Amazing how running seems to be the perfect fix to everything in my life.

Silly boys and their rabbit ears at the Air and Space Museum – I love these three!!!

As I went about my day Monday, I felt good.  I felt euphoric from the time with family, proud that I reestablished my routine so quickly, and confident that I would be prepared to handle the next chunk of time away from home.  The sun set on Monday and I was ready for a successful Tuesday.  Unfortunately, Tuesday wasn’t ready for me.  The day brought rain and the hints of a sore throat.  As the day progressed, my bones began to ache.  I could feel the cold coming along.

I had a run planned that afternoon and I was torn.  I’ve been here before…we all have.  We feel that illness skulking around the corner and we make the great debate: to rest or to push through.  I made the choice to rest.  I only ran a mile rather than the 6 miles with hill repeats I had planned.  I took my elderberry syrup, a hot Epsom salt bath, and went to bed early hoping that I had caught it early enough.

But I was too late.  The next day was worse and the third worse still.

I had begun the week excited and confident that I could reestablish my routine after a vacation – something that can be difficult for me to do.  Instead, I got sideways with illness and it prevented me from doing what I want and love to do.  Further, it prevented the very medicine that is essential to managing my well-being.

Whether it is illness, injury, or life getting in the way of our running, it is important to be prepared with a plan so that you can handle these setbacks gracefully.  They will happen so pretending that our training will unfold perfectly is a fools errand.  But if we have an “emergency action plan” in place we can ride out these setbacks and transition back into the training plan with ease.

Emily’s Running “Emergency Action Plan”

  • Rest Sooner than Later: At the first hints of illness or injury, scale back and rest my body.  Depending on the symptons, walking, swimming, cycling or even a short run might be acceptable but stenuous long efforts should be put on hold.
  • Extra self-love: Take the time I set aside for my workout and use it for a hot bath, self-massage, or extra meditation.  This will reduce the stress my body is experiencing so it can focus on healing.
  • Maximize my Plants: Use herbal teas, essential oils and lots of veggies to maximize the healing power of plants in my body.
  • Don’t Sacrifice “Me” Time: I carefully craft my day to fit in my workouts.  If I am ill, do not sacrifice that time to someone else but rather refocus it on healing my body.
  • Sleep, Sleep and More Sleep: By far the most important healing tool in my toolbox is sleep.  Get myself to bed early and set the alarm for later as much as possible to maximize sleep.  Take a nap in the middle of the day if possible. Drink chamomile and valarian root tea before bed to aid in a good nights sleep.
  • Return Slowly to My Routine: Make sure to ease myself back into exercise.  Jumping back into my previous training schedule at the first signs of feeling better will cause a quick regression so give my body a week to ease back into the flow.
My first solo post-illness run felt easy and amazing….my self-love plan worked!

The natural inclination is to push through and believe that you are invincible.  I love to imagine myself as invincible.  But the truth is we aren’t and the sooner we can take a step back to invest in some extra tender loving care, the sooner we will be back on our feet ready to conquer the world.

The journey continues…..


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