In the September issue of Runner's World Magazine, running guru Jeff Galloway responds to a question posed by a reader regarding the value of "listening to your body." Says Jeff, "When I advise runners to listen to their body, I'm suggesting that they learn to recognize how their body signals fatigue or injury...Usually the strain you feel while running is caused when you've exceeded your speed or distance limits for the day." While Jeff concedes that these "strain signals" are a normal part of the runner's life, he encourages runners to notice them and pay attention to what they may be telling them about their training program or running style.
As I see it, the value of listening to your body goes well beyond the realm of runners or other athletes. That's because your body responds just as viscerally to mental or emotional fatigue and injury as it does to physical strain. For example, take a moment right now and just notice what's going on in your body. Do a mental survey--Where is there tension in your body right now? Where do you feel tired, or achy or numb? What's the general energy level of your body right now?
Take in all that data, then ask yourself: What is my body telling me about the condition of my heart today? What is it telling me about my life in general? What is my body wanting from me (or from my life)? Clearly, your body has a lot to tell you about what's going well (or not so well) in your heart and life.
We are all runners in the marathon of life. And your body is the vessel that carries you from the beginning all the way to the finish line in the end. One powerful way to run a great race is to learn to notice how your body signals stress or injury to your soul, and take those signals as a sign that something needs to shift in your lifestyle or relationships to keep you running a strong and fulfilling race.