Being A “Tough Runner” VS A “Smart Runner”+ Runfessions

Lately I have been fighting with myself over some of my running choices. Should I run outside? Should I skip my run? Should I take an extra rest day this week? Michele talked yesterday about how sometimes our stubbornness as runners gets the best of us, and I’ve noticed that about myself alot lately.

ecardFun side note: I found this picture on an image search and when I clicked to visit page I was linked to Meredith’s blog:) Great minds think alike!

So as I was saying….I want to be tough and run outside in all conditions, but sometimes it’s smarter to skip a run when it’s icy or super cold or opt for the treadmill. 

I want to run ALL THE MILES. And run ALL THE RACES. But’s that’s the worst decision ever for me right now.

We always hear messages about never skipping a workout, but sometimes it’s smarter to take a rest day. 

These are some of the examples that I feel like I have been dealing with lately. I couldn’t help but feel guilty when I decided to run on the treadmill last Saturday, only to find out that it wasn’t icy outside like I expected. Other runners were out in the rain that morning- I should have been too. Instead I did my indoor run (where I was warm and dry) and should have just accepted that decision and moved on- because better safe than sorry right? But playing it safe isn’t something that runners usually do. 

And don’t even get me started on the “don’t skip a workout thing”. These messages are engrained in us through all forms of social media and as runners we never want to take the “easy way out”. We all know it’s not the end of the world to take an extra rest day- or two- but why do we feel guilty over it? Or not even allow ourselves to do it? When really, it’s sometimes smarter to rest than to be “tough”. 

Well now that I got that little rant out of the way, it’s time for some runfessions. On the last Friday of every month Marcia hosts a confession link-up related to any form of working out (runfessions or gymfessions or swimfessions)! Here we go….

– Im embarrassed to say how long I go between washing my winter running gear, like gloves, hats, etc. Especially the gloves because I’m constantly wiping my nose with them.

winter gear

-I’m still missing one and a half toe-nails post-marathon. 

-I have tons of winter running clothes, but wear the same things all the time. I even try to do laundry twice a week so that I always have my favorites. Yet I still want more, thinking I’ll find something even better.

-Sometimes our apartment looks like a poorly designed PRO compression/Oiselle ad. 


-I haven’t hated the treadmill as much as usual this year. In fact, it’s not so bad. 

-I always pick the treadmill in front of the mirror so I can critique my running form. It’s pretty much impossible to do while I am running, but now it’s just my go-to treadmill. Other people pick treadmills with good TV views but I pick the one where I can stare at myself the whole time. I don’t get it either.

treadmill-I’m starting to like hills. I KNOW I DON’T UNDERSTAND EITHER. But lately I have made a point to run them more, even if its a few mini repeats at the end of a run, and I really think its helped with my form and strength. The area I am moving to has hills so I need to be ready!

-I’ve been wearing a headlamp for my dark runs ever since I got one for Christmas and I sort of love it. Not many runners in the city use them since it’s pretty well lit around here, but it’s been perfect for watching out for potential icy patches.

headlamp -I started incorporating some running drills before some of my runs, and I have totally become the weirdo on the block who can be seen skipping or side-stepping with a headlamp on at 5:30 am. 

-Sometimes I plan my run times around the sunrise. But can you blame me?


Well that’s all for now. Happy Friday everyone!

-Do you struggle with being a “smart” runner versus a “tough” runner?

Tell me your Runfessions!!

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59 thoughts on “Being A “Tough Runner” VS A “Smart Runner”+ Runfessions

    • I know, it’s like I am completely aware that some of my choices are ridiculous but I can’t help but continue in the ways that I am used to.

  1. Beautiful sunrise! Okay, so this is gross, but a few items in my running clothes drawer have been kicking around for a looooong time (4-5 years) and when they’re clean? They smell fresh. But as SOON as I sweat in them it’s like I release the deadly killer stink that’s been caught in between the fibres and I’m like HOLY CRAP I REEK. I’ve tried the vinegar soak, all the detergents, and nothing works. I need to just throw the damn things out. :(
    Suzy recently posted…Blended Family Friday: Fear Part TwoMy Profile

    • Well at least they don’t smell when they are clean! I had some items that never seemed to get clean, like the stink had just embedded itself into the clothes.

  2. When I saw my name I clicked the link because I didn’t remember using that ecard. HA. It was my post. I do remember that post though and the magic of a new pair of sneakers. I have many weeks where I can run every day but I really try not to because as I said in that post, it becomes a cumulative effect. I can’t run outside right now and it stinks but I am totally dealing. the mounds of snow are so high it isn’t safe- I can’t see cars at the corners and they definitely can’t see me. I am making the treadmill work.
    meredith @ Cookie ChRUNicles recently posted…Blueberry Loaded Blueberry MuffinsMy Profile

    • Wow it sounds like you got quite a bit of snow there. We haven’t gotten more than an inch or two this winter. I always make a point to take at least one rest day a week but sometimes I know that I need an extra day off.

    • And now I am thinking, and will get back to you soon:)
      And I like your point about the best runners being the smartest runners. I think you just need to realize that being smart is more important than being tough, and understand the difference between the two.

  3. OMG I’ve been doing the same thing with my accessories. I desperately need to wash my arm/phone holder. It makes my arm stink and my husband had to tell me where the stink was coming from.
    As far as smart vs tough. When I did RLRF, some of those speed sessions beat me up so badly I definitely switched around workouts so I could recover more. So in this regard (go figure!) I guess I am smart. Thanks for linking up!
    Marcia recently posted…January Runfessions LinkupMy Profile

    • When I used to run with an armband the same thing happened to me!
      Glad you were able to figure out a way to be smart with your training…it is still a work in progress for me.

  4. I’d like to think I’m a pretty smart runner. I’m okay with taking a day off if I need it, and I’m not afraid to skip some unsafe conditions for the treadmill. I’ve also gotten to a point where I don’t hate the treadmill so much!
    I love how you grab a treadmill in front of the mirror! Sometimes I can snag a side view of me running in the mirror to look at my form too. I like to do my planks in front of a mirror to check my form for that!
    Sam @ The Running Graduate recently posted…This Week in Graduate School…My Profile

    • That’s really great that you are able to make those reasonable choices when you need to!
      And yes, planks in front of a mirror are the way to go!

  5. I like the runfessions! I’m also missing a toenail and a half :( I got a pedicure so now the little nubs are painted the same color as the others. It looks pretty silly.

    I think the mentality about not skipping workouts is a bit out of hand. I felt really guilty when I was skipping runs over the holidays and while I was back home, but I really needed those days off – and only partially because of physical exhaustion! I think it’s just as important to recognize that sometimes there really are other demands that need our attention and that’s ok.
    Lizzy recently posted…Thinking Out Loud – January is almost over?!My Profile

    • I’m still too embarrassed to get a pedicure…I also worry that it might hurt if they mess with it too much.
      I definitely agree with your point about skipping workouts…its just sometimes easier said than done!

    • Haha well considering a year ago I was constantly saying how much I hated it this is a huge step for me!

  6. I’m glad you have a headlamp because you will get lots of good use out of it when you move. I have been considering one for a little while now!

    I recall last year trying to tough out the cold a lot more than I’m doing this year. It was cold then, but I feel like it’s a lot more icy/snowy this year (am I right about this?) I have been loving the treadmill and if there were a mirror for me to look in, I’d be using it too. That’s a great idea!

    I also am guilty of wearing the same two pairs of running tights all the time.
    Salt recently posted…Baby, it’s cold outside. {The Friday Five}My Profile

    • I figure I will need it in the suburbs! I think this year has been consistently worse with little bits of snow and ice whereas last year we would get a decent amount of snow every few weeks. But at least last year I was getting snow days so I was able to run when it was light out:)

  7. I totally relate to your dilemma, but over the years, I have learned (or rather have been forced to learn) that it’s better to play it safe and run injury free than to push in and end up in PT or even worse, sidelined for a bit. And as far as rest days, I mandate at least 1 rest day a week (usually Sunday,) my PT has drilled it into my head that is not optional and even the pros take rest days! It’s hard to do it, but I am better for it!

    I LOVE the treadmill and am so thankful that there is an option for us runners when the weather is gross.
    Sara @ lifebetweenthemiles recently posted…What’s keeping me up at nightMy Profile

    • I am really good about taking one rest day a week, but after that I go back and forth about if I should take an extra one or not. I’ve realized usually its better to just play it safe!

  8. Yes I do! I have been having IT problems since before my marathon this mth but I still continue to run everyday. Bc like you said it’s not like I am not going to run. Well yesterday was the first day I actually took the whole day off from everything. I really need to take some time off to recover so I can come back strong and refreshed.
    Lacey@fairytalesandfitness recently posted…Ditch the Treadmill for 5 other pieces of inexpensive workout equipmentMy Profile

    • It sounds it you’re not getting better maybe its time to rethink things. Usually I try something for a couple weeks and if its not working I try something else. I try to think about the long term but sometimes its really hard to remember that!

    • Exactly! Its important to remember that you don’t always need to be “tough” and sometimes its better to play it safe!

  9. I think this is a struggle all runners face and we all fail at it now and again. But I so agree that the “no excuses” attitude needs to go away. There are legitimate excuses sometimes and when we do use them, we pay for it.

    Wait–people wash their hats and gloves? ; )
    misszippy recently posted…RunfessionsMy Profile

    • Exactly! I can see how when you’re starting a new fitness routine it helps to get encouragement around working out consistently. But especially for those of us that have a tendency to go overboard, we need to remember that its ok to back off now and then.
      It sounds like most of us don’t wash our winter accessories- I’m sure we are all a smelly bunch during the cold months!

  10. My gym doesn’t have mirrors where the treadmills are, but I always pick a spot in spin class where I have a good view of myself in the mirrors. I critique my form the entire time. I don’t wanna be “that person” that looks ridiculous!
    Carson recently posted…True Life v.8My Profile

    • I know what you mean! Its never good when we start to feel like a painful run is a normal thing.

  11. My husband jokes that I should have been an actuary because I’m always assessing risks vs benefits of my runs. Today it started snowing as I was getting ready for my 10 mile run, and I decided the treadmill beat the risk of slipping or getting too cold. It didn’t snow much but better safe than injured! I’m probably overly cautious!
    I always tell myself that staring at the wall for what feels like forever while I’m on the treadmill is building my mental toughness.
    Laura @ This Runner’s Recipes recently posted…Tips on Becoming a Morning RunnerMy Profile

    • Wow it sounds like you have a good system for figuring out your runs:)
      And yes, I’m pretty sure any treadmill runs build mental toughness.

  12. Haha! I’m pretty sure drivers think I’m insane when I’m the only person outside when it’s in the teens doing toe taps (which makes me look a little bit like an Irish bar dancer) and butt kicks. But that’s okay.

    Don’t feel bad about picking the treadmill. Sometimes you don’t know how conditions really are until you get started, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
    Jess recently posted…The Cost of RunningMy Profile

    • Those drills definitely sound like ones that would get you a look:) Especially when its freezing out.
      And yes, I guess its better to play it safe when it comes to running.

  13. I’ve been running with a headlamp lately too! Haha at first I felt ridiculous but I’d rather look funny than trip and fall on my face because of some black ice. And I won’t admit how long I go between washing the gloves/hats/etc either. It’s pretty embarrassing…

    As for being tough vs. smart, that’s something I definitely used to struggle with and it wasn’t until I took a break from blogging and found my own workout schedule that I’ve learned not to care. I don’t workout everyday anymore. I work out 4 days a week and my body is a lot happier. It’s soooo hard not to get caught up in the “sweat every day” mantra you hear all over blogland. As long as you’re doing what’s right for you and your body, you can’t go wrong :)
    Sarah @pickyrunner recently posted…NP AnniversaryMy Profile

    • Nice- so we are the two crazy runners out around the harbor with headlamps!
      I still definitely struggle wit figuring out what amount of working out is best for me. I get so antsy on rest days that I always feel like I want to do something. And there were times in training when I was easily able to run 50 miles a week over 6 days of running. But clearly that doesn’t work for me all the time.

  14. I love the idea of this link-up! Will you be sharing your warm-up running drills? I feel like I should join I was have similar problems with our performs/IT band/hips/glutes.

    Also, I am the same exact way about missing a workout. I beat myself up about if and feel lazy if I don’t get a workout in. I know in my mind it is crazy but I still feel the need to do it. Hence my lunchtime run this week – I felt like I needed it. Good to know other people struggle with this too.
    Sara @ Lake Shore Runner recently posted…Five Things Friday: What is Making Me HappyMy Profile

    • I will try to figure out a way to share my drills- I will need to figure out where i found them and find some good pics because I don’t think I will be able to show pictures or videos of myself doing the exercises:)
      I think most of us struggle with how much to workout. Its that fight between wanting to do it all and doing what we know is best.

  15. I’m trying to be a smart runner – I follow so many more experienced runners that I sometimes feel I should be running more often and farther and faster. Over the year I’ve come to accept where I’m at and that improvement is a slow and steady process. I can see how if you are a more experienced runner, it could be harder to slow down and take it easy if you are so used to doing all the runs at all the fastest speeds.

    Guurrl you need to wash those gloves! Just this week I saw something that said our winter gloves are one of the dirtiest things. Think of all the things the touch in addition to wiping your nose. (I have the same gloves as you – I throw them and my hat / headbands in a lingerie bag when I wash them then air dry).
    Sara recently posted…The Friday Five – Favorite Indoor WorkoutsMy Profile

    • OK OK I will wash my gloves this weekend:) You are right I just always forget about them!
      It sounds like you have learned some really great lessons this year…it can be so easy to fall into the comparison trap!

  16. I always try to run in front of a mirror too because it holds me accountable. I haven’t washed my gloves yet either….whoops. Hadn’t thought about it until I read this post haha. I like hills too but only if it’s a short run! No more than 10 minutes of really challenging hills otherwise NOPE.
    Lauren @ ihadabiglunch recently posted…Life Goal: Be The Pioneer WomanMy Profile

    • I agree about the hills! I think that since I plan them and have control over them its not so bad. When I am forced to run them for an entire run thats a problem for me!

    • Definitely! I am so sick of this winter weather but also don’t like being on the treadmill everyday.

    • That sounds like a good plan, and I sometimes have a similar week. I like doing yoga on a rest day especially when I get antsy doing nothing!

  17. I think it’s good to be a smart runner – better safe than sorry. Of course we all love running outside and running whenever we can, but it’s ok to take the safe route and give ourselves a little break. It’s not necessary to run outside in the snow or ice when you could risk injury – that’s what the treadmill is for! And you can definitely get a good, challenging workout in on the treadmill :) Keep up the good hillwork!
    Charissa recently posted…My new toyMy Profile

    • Great points. Its really not worth getting hurt just to be tough and run outside! And we all need to give ourselves a break when it comes to our running schedules.

  18. On Saturdays and Sundays I plan my runs around sunrise too. I like to be hitting the beach right before the sun crests the horizon so that I can watch the whole thing happen. I love watching the sun rise across the sky! Every single Sunday morning I tell myself I am going to get up early on Monday too so I can do it again, but … that never happens! haha
    Kristina recently posted…Behind the Scenes at a Fitness Photoshoot for WorkMy Profile

    • When I was running on the beach over the summer when I was on vacation I timed my runs to the sunrise- there is nothing like seeing the sun come up over the ocean!

  19. I’m all for smart running too! And as for never skipping a workout- that is the worst advice EVER. I have a client right now who felt guilty that she didn’t get all her workouts in last week because she was sick. Like really sick. I told her NO, that resting was the best choice and she did well.

    Oh girl, I only have ONE pair of warm winter pants and I wear them several days in a row…. it is not pretty but I run alone so I can only smell myself!
    Megan @ Meg Go Run recently posted…Electronic Devices at SushiMy Profile

    • It can be difficult, especially when first starting to workout, to understand the difference between rest and laziness. Its so important to give our bodies a break, especially when we are sick!
      I have a really hard time finding running tights that I like, so I definitely end up wearing the same ones all the time!

  20. It is a struggle to decipher between being tough and being smart. And it has to do with the weather with for me too sometimes, only with the summer months. When I slow my pace for runs during the warmer months, I always ask myself if I’m being smart or just not being tough. It’s a long summer here, so I think it’s being smart, but it’s still a struggle. And on that note, we hardly ever have to wear gloves here, sooo mine probably go the whole winter without…whoops:)
    Hailey recently posted…Yes, I do still runMy Profile

    • That’s great! Sometimes we just need to change things up to see things from different perspective.

    • It seems like there is a fine line with this. We can only be smart and tough for so long before its no longer smart anymore!

    • That sounds amazing! I never want to change out of my pajamas except that I would be sad that I actually have to wash them:)

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