Wednesday, October 19, 2011

cost-benefit analysis ...

I get asked a lot of questions about running. I'm not sure if this is because people know that I am a running coach or if they just think that I spend every waking moment of my life obsessing about the sport. (Note: Just because the vast majority of my clothing was purchased from running stores and there are running gear/magazines/medals/etc all around my house does not indicate an obsession.)

Either way, I feel like I'm usually answering one of the following questions:
  • Non-runners: "How do you run so much? I'd die if I had to run a mile."
  • Runners: "Can I run through XYZ?"
To the non-runners, I say, "I just do. I wanted to run, so I started. Over time, I started running farther. I promise you will not die if you run a mile."

To the runners, I say, "Maybe, but probably not. If you have to ask the question in the first place, the issue is probably serious enough to warrant concern. But, go ahead and try. If it's too uncomfortable, stop."

Fortunately, I haven't personally been affected by too many of these questionable situations. I've been relatively injury free (i.e. no pains that have lasted more than a day or two) and I don't get sick all that often (other than the occasional runny nose - which is usually allergy related).

On Tuesday morning (OK, Monday night, if we are being honest), I had one of those questionable situations. I wasn't feeling well, but the ick was contained to my head. So, I got up at 4:30 for my 10 mile run, even though I wasn't sure 10 miles was a smart idea.

Within the first 4 minutes, I had decided that the whole run wasn't going to happen. Even after I warmed up, my pace had slowed considerably from usual. By mile 5, I was drained, but was left with no option but to run the last two miles back to my car.

I shook it off. No big deal. I'll probably feel better later and then I'll just rearrange my workouts for the week. I planned on trying 10 again on Wednesday.

That was until 3 p.m. I started to lose the ability to breathe normally. The thought of running pained me. Almost as much as the thought of not running did.

I tried again to rearrange my schedule. Started playing scenarios in my head.

"I'll skip the run in the morning. Then if I feel OK, I'll run it on the treadmill that night. I can always double up if I have to. I can do it all. I'm epic like that."

Truth is, I'm not epic like that. I woke up and felt worse than expected. I'm confident that the Bat Pig Flu has invaded my home. That's when I realized that I needed to apply some of those fancy principles I learned in college to my training. Specifically, cost-benefit analysis.

Cost-Benefit Analysis: a systematic process for calculating and comparing benefits and costs of a project for two purposes: (1) to determine if it is a sound investment (justification/feasibility), (2) to see how it compares with alternate projects (ranking/priority assignment). It involves comparing the total expected cost of each option against the total expected benefits, to see whether the benefits outweigh the costs, and by how much.

Let's consider the facts:
  • I'm sick, I know I am sick. But, I also know that I don't like to miss a run.
  • I'm just 18 days out from the NYC Marathon. I've logged nearly 1,600 miles this year. Missing 10, 20 or even 50 miles this week, isn't going to make or break my race performance.
  • Running some or all of those miles while in a weakened state probably won't help my training in any way other than making me feel good about accomplishing what I'm "supposed to."
  • Running some or all of those miles while in a weakened state may cause me to remain in a weakened state for longer than necessary.
  • When faced with losing my sanity due to not running or losing my PR due to running while ill, I'd rather be completely insane and unbearable than finish without a PR.
  • Running 2,000 miles this year is of lesser importance to me than running the marathon that I have trained for.
Looking at the facts, it's clear that the risks being stubborn and continuing my training uninterrupted far outweigh the potential benefits. And it's even clearer to see that the possible negative impact of my stubbornness could derail my ultimate goals.

So, I am making the executive decision to take the next few days off (I know, pick your jaws up off the floor).

No running today.
No running tomorrow.
And who knows, I might just take Friday off too.

I just hope someone hides my running shoes ...

29 comments:

Lacey said...

Good for you. I know it wasn't an easy decision, but letting your body rest a bit to heal itself from sickness is definitely a smart idea. I think once you're back to feeling great and wearing those shoes again, you won't even notice a difference. Feel better, T!

Running Ricig said...

Nice job listening to your body. I have a tough time with this too! I hope you're feeling better soon. You're still totally going to kick that marathon's a**!

Jen said...

I did the same thing. I hadn't run since the Half. I ran 5 this morning instead of 10... I just wasn't feeling it.

Healing vibes! Its hard to be a logical thinker.

momof3 @ Neurosis of the Stay at Home Marathoner said...

I'll head over and pick up the shoes today.

Also, let me know if you need soup or anything...

abbi said...

It's hard, isn't it? I've been dealing with a weird foot issue. I'm not really injury prone so this is odd and going somewhat insane deciding which days to run and which to not. I'm trying to be smart about it. Sounds like the rest is what you need!

Wym said...

Interesting a doctor visit was not in the mix. I'm always the last person to choose to go to the doc and its after 3moths with a sinus infection that I do. I hope you feel better, and if you don't, don't live by my example. get to the doc

Jesser said...

I had my best half marathon time to date following a month when I only ran once a week ... so maybe (maybe!) it could help?

S Club Mama said...

Good for you! Listening to your body is so stinking important. I've had to take 3 days off of my 30 Day Shred challenge just because I have a busy life and sometimes I can't fit it all in.

MotherRunner said...

Your body knows best - and if it wants couch time, chicken soup, and no running, you'd better give it to her! :)

Shellyrm ~ just a country runner said...

As I can say from experience, past and current, you ARE making the BEST decision. with.out.a.doubt!

I hope a little rest helps you over the flu quickly.

TLB said...

I hope you are feeling better soon!!! This post is exactly what I needed to read this morning. Exactly. I decided to take today as a complete rest day - no running, no workout - after feeling exhausted the past 2 days. Despite a 20 mile race on Sunday. So thank you!!!

Beth said...

Aw, get better soon! You are smart to take a few days off and really let your body fight off the illness. Running while feeling weak and tired won't make you any fitter or faster and will just make the flu last longer.

(Just) Trying is for Little Girls said...

Insane with a PR? Kind of like it.
It's kind of nice to be REALLY sick, once you admit it.

Get better soon!

Rachel McPhillips said...

It sucks when stubbornness to get those miles in has to take the backseat to sickness. I hope you get to feeling better!

Runners Fuel said...

Hope you get better. It's better to be sick now vs. the day of the race.

kimert said...

Feel better soon!

Ali Mc said...

I love that you are walking the walk! I find a lot of professional people are great at teaching others but tend to avoid listening to their own advice. I am completely with you. I was only running a 5k but I got sick and missed the last week of my training only to smoke my goal for the race. You will be awesome. I love when non-runners think they can't run :) I was there once. I can't even believe what I can do now!!

Michelle said...

Sounds like a smart plan....let's just hope your family survives! :)

SupermomE12 said...

Sorry about the sick! bleck! You are doing the right thing though, and I bet it won't take long at all for you to be feeling tons better. I don't get sick too often either and when I do it is usually short lived. Enjoy the rest days and know it will pay off.

What is your goal for NY? Sub 4? :)

Julia said...

it sounds like you are doing the right thing! and it will definitely pay off in the on race day! you will dominate!

Julie D. said...

I hope someone throws them out the window. ;) (at least that is what would work for me) Way to be smart. You'll thank yourself come NYC, when you kill that marathon course with a strong body and mind! get well soon!

track coach and adorable wife said...

I am just so proud! I do hope you feel better though, and can get back out there soon and achieve all you dreams and goals! (Cheesy wink)

MCM Mama said...

Channel your inner "MCM Mama". Sleep in, take a nap, become one with your book/phone/tv/whatever. ;o)

Feel better soon.

Hannah said...

I always get so happy (ok, "happy" might not be the right word) when I get sick that close to an event, as (in my head) I figure that it means I won't be sick at the actual event! YES!

Hope you're feeling 100% very soon. So tough to get rest and chase kiddos, but, I've got my fingers crossed that you will!

Carrie said...

Sorry you're sick, but on the bright side, getting sick now is way better than getting sick the week of the race.

Rest up and feel better!!

Pam said...

So THAT'S why it's turned so cold ... HELL IS FREEZING OVER!

Anabela (Bela) Neves said...

Definately listen to your body even though your mind doesn't want to ;). Rest up and take care!

Meredith said...

I should bookmark this post :) I'm not really kidding either. I have the hardest time skipping a scheduled run. I start the juggle - what can I rearrange... I've very stubbornly run when I shouldn't have and it's left me worse than before. I've often thought to myself, "What would T do?" Truly. I could barely drive home from preschool drop off today because I was so tired. I had my running clothes on, walked out my door, turned my watch on and as I told my husband, made a very adult decision. I skipped my run. Took a hot hot shower to warm myself up and put my sweats on. I'm sure my body is going to thank me for it. I SO hope that you feel better soon and I know you are going to kick New York's rear!

Rachel said...

I went through a similar analysis when I found out I had pneumonia one month before my first marathon. I can tell you that time off was the best thing I could have done. I wasn't trying to PR, but I was trying to finish and I know that resting and skipping a few runs was to key to rebuilding my strength. Hang in there. Hope you get well soon!