Most of the time if you’re not feeling good, feel the beginnings of an injury, or are just flat, you should back off or even skip a workout or a run. Many times I’ve made it to the end of the block to only walk back to the house because something just wasn’t right. Very rarely is it worth the risk. This helps to prevent injury and respects the concept that your life stress impacts your training. This is where a coach can come in handy. If you have a good relationship with your coach, he or she should be able to look at your warmup or your first few repetitions and see if you are on your game or not. Most of the time they will adjust the workout to account for the additional stress or issue that you’re dealing with.
Sometimes though, they will see this and tell you to press on. Sometimes you need to exercise some more discipline and gut out the workout. There is a certain amount of risk, but as with most things, with additional risk there are additional rewards. The reason for this is that you rarely get to determine what your life is going to be like on race day or a critical stage in your training cycle. Your kid may be sick. A project at work may start to go sideways. Your brother in law may lose his job. Life happens on it’s own schedule and it rarely matches up with your training schedule. Every once in a while, maybe two or three time a training cycle, you should push through a workout when things aren’t going well. A race will come when you need your A game, and you feel like a piece of microwaved, day old pizza. This will prepare you for the races when the planets are not perfectly aligned. If you don’t do it in training, at least on some level, you cannot expect to do it on race day. Physically you do this through race specific workouts. Mentally, you sometimes need to push through on days when you’re not at your best.
So most of the time if you’re feeling off, pack it in. But every once in a while get in there and dig deep. You’ll be thankful for this come race day.
Enjoy the Run.