In my opinion, the advice to “listen to your body” is pretty meaningless. I think I speak for a lot of endurance athletes when I say that my mind and desires always get the first word over my body.
This is because we crave the endorphins, tackling the next training phase and event, and the comradery of chasing down the sunrise with friends. The high we get out of beasting a workout, the FOMO we get from missing an epic run with buddies, are drivers in our toughened minds to hush the plea of our bodies, and drag them along for another ride they may not be game for.
I am training for my first Boston Marathon and this will be my third time on WHOOP training for 26.2. Having gone through the motions of preparing for a marathon, I have repeatedly engaged in a massive mental strengthening exercise that has sent the balance of power between my brain and my body rocking back and forth. If so much of tackling a marathon is overcoming the mental blocks that are preventing us from cultivating endurance we didn’t know we had, how do we determine when our bodies truly are throwing up red flags?
In essence, how do we really know how to listen?
WHOOP provides our bodies with a voice. Its Sleep, Recovery and Strain analytics empower our bodies to present us with what’s going on. Our minds still have the authority to decide what to do with that information (and sure sometimes that group bike ride and pub crawl is too enticing to give up), but now we go into making decisions with a second voice of authority; our unique physiology.
The Boston running community is my home. I am inspired by my friends and community members training (some fundraising!) for our hometown marathon in April. WHOOP has taught me that all of those bodies out there on the course need their own unique amount of sleep, recovery periods, fuel, etc. to train, and even more importantly; to stay healthy and in the running game long term. When you can appreciate these differences and let your body’s voice weigh in, that’s when you truly can take care of and respect yourself.
Data can’t drive every decision in our lives–that would leave no room for spontaneity and exploration. For this year’s Boston, I will not stop drinking beer the night before long runs. I will go out and forfeit some sleep. But, I will also give my body the chance to pipe in and say “dude, we really aren’t feeling it today,” and to drive decisions based on what it’s telling me through WHOOP. If we consistently ignore the voice of our bodies, we may find ourselves paying the consequences down the road, and take away our moment to set foot at the start line in Hopkinton on April 17th.
My body’s voice lives right on my wrist. I look forward to having it lead me through my first Boston Marathon, and to many more runs and adventures to come.
Below is another perspective on training for the Boston Marathon with WHOOP from data scientist Chris Allen, a former Division 1 track and field athlete.
Lately I’ve been in uncharted territory training-wise. Over the years, I’ve competed in many different races ranging from one-mile track races to half marathons on the road. A marathon is a completely different beast–I have spent the last few months seriously training for my first one. Over the course of the winter my workouts have gotten tougher and my long runs have gotten longer in order to best prepare myself for the grueling 26.2 grind from Hopkinton to Boston this April.
Having worn WHOOP for about a year and a half now, I’ve developed a pretty good understanding of what habits and behaviors affect my sleep quality and next-day Recovery. Now armed with knowledge about how my body usually reacts to different aspects of training, I have found WHOOP especially useful while getting ready for my first marathon. It’s been invaluable to know how quickly I recover from a super-long run or an intense workout that I have never done before.
WHOOP does not just help me understand how well my body responds to my running – WHOOP also helps me understand how well my body reacts to various other life stressors. If I have an extremely busy or stressful week and have to cut sleep a little short, the additional insight from WHOOP gives me an idea of how my body is coping and how ready I am to train hard.
I see myself as a runner 24/7, not just a runner in the morning before breakfast; I find it incredibly valuable to know how everything I do today will affect my body’s recovery tomorrow. When I toe the line in Hopkinton, every incremental advantage to optimize training counts.