This Running Influencer Wants You to Know That It *Is* Possible to Regret a Workout
Even if it's #MotivationMonday or #WorkoutWednesday, if you think you need a rest day, you probably do.
Raise your hand if you've seen motivational mantras like "no excuses" or "the only bad workout is the one you didn't do" populate your Instagram feed. Everyone, right?! Well, Ali Feller, the blogger behind Ali on the Run (and the podcast by the same name), is here to remind you that while everyone needs a good push once in a while to get off the couch, it's also important to listen to your body and realize that forcing yourself to work out isn't always the best idea. (Related: 7 Signs You Seriously Need a Rest Day)
In an Instagram post, Feller opened up about how she recently almost forced herself to go on a run even though her body wasn't up for it. "As soon as I got [to the park], I kinda knew a run wasn't going to happen," she wrote. "I tried a few times, but it just never felt GOOD."
Feller isn't a stranger to that feeling and tells Shape how she's spent her whole life pushing her body to its limit. "For years, I told myself I was listening to my body, and that what my body wanted was a brutal amount of exercise," she says. "It seemed like that's what everyone was doing. And everyone was getting faster, fitter, and seemingly healthier. So, I followed suit. My workouts got longer, my rest days more sparse-and I'd go through periods of getting faster or fitter."
But that strategy came with its set of side effects. "I grew to become seriously burned out, and I got to a point where everything ached," she says. "I never really had defined injuries, fortunately. No stress fractures, no tears, no tendinitis. But I ached, and my body was tired, and instead of actually listening and backing off, I kept going. It was compulsive." (Related: How an Injury Taught Me That There's Nothing Wrong With Running a Shorter Distance)
It took several reminders for Feller to finally realize that this approach to fitness was unhealthy. "A few years ago, I was training for my second marathon, and I was having such bad shin splints," she says. "Every step made my shins throb and ache, but I kept running, and would stop every few feet to stretch. This is not healthy! But my almighty training plan said to run 6 miles that day, so I did. I remember limping home, thinking, "I regret that workout." Another time, I ran when I had a fever, and it ended up leveling me for days. I regretted that workout, too-and that's okay. I learned from it."
So when Feller's body wasn't up for running this past weekend, she finally listened. "If I had run this weekend when it didn't feel good for my body, I probably would've spent the entire rest of the weekend in pain," she says. "Instead, I went for a walk, was able to catch up with a great friend, felt awesome, and was able to spend the rest of the weekend hiking, apartment hunting, and taking my puppy swimming." (Related: How to Use Active Recovery Rest Days to Get the Most Out of Your Workouts)
At the end of the day, Feller wants you to know that despite the pressure you may feel from friends or from Instagram, it is indeed possible to regret a workout-and giving your body time to recover is a more than good enough excuse to skip your sweat sesh. "It's really easy to get caught up in the constant motivation and hustle of social media," she says. "It seems like everyone, especially on #MotivationMonday or #WorkoutWednesday, is crushing it every single day. But if you think you might need a rest day, you probably do." (Related: How I Learned to Love Rest Days)
Feller says that now, she's built rest days into her training plan to give her body time to recover. If anything, these days off allow her to hustle harder on the days she does work out-which is more important in the long run. "You're not going to get fat or gain weight for taking a day off working out-or even two days, or a week," she says. "I know so many women who refuse rest days because they love to be active, and I get it. I do, too. I'm happiest when I'm on the move. But I also think something that most people don't want to admit is that they're afraid they're going to get or feel fat if they don't work out for a day-and that's so unrealistic." (P.S. Rest Days Should Be About Active Recovery, Not Sitting On Your Butt Doing Nothing)
"You know when you might gain weight, though?" she added. "When you work yourself so hard that you get injured and have to take months off any physical activity. Take the day so you don't have to take the months. You'll be fine."
We couldn't agree more.