Athletes: Listening To Your Body

Beep, Beep, Beep. I sleepily rolled over and looked at my alarm. The clock showed 6:15a.m. on Saturday morning. I lay in bed for a moment and had an internal debate. Should I put on my running shoes and get my 8 miles in? Deep down, my body ached; it felt exhausted and tired. My thoughts began to wander. If I go back to sleep, it will be hot when I do run. Also, I probably won’t be able to enjoy a relaxing morning if I don’t get my run in. I need to stick to my schedule, etc.

As a former college athlete, it is easy for me to constantly push myself physically, mentally, and emotionally. That voice telling me to sleep in and relax is almost always ignored. However, that voice may be your body telling you to slow down.

As an athlete, when is it important to listen to the signals your body is giving you? How do you balance the demands of your coach and your competitive personality with the needs of your mind and body?

Below are some benefits to listening to your body and taking a break if needed:

  1. Your stress level will dramatically decrease if you listen to your body and take breaks when needed. Many of us are juggling work, family, exercise, friends, and extra curricular activities. When exercise or sports becomes more of a source of stress than a stress relief, it may be time to take a step back and look at what it is becoming in your life.
  2. Your body will rebuild and become even stronger. As an athlete, it is easy to worry about losing progress and not staying competitive. However, overtraining can cause negative side affects such as injuries as well as mental and emotional strain or burnout.
  3. Commit to taking a break. Whether it is a few days, weeks, or even months, decide what your body needs to feel relaxed and rejuvenated. Find other activities or other aspects of your life to focus your attention on.
  4. It may seem overwhelming to take a break. However, a break will remind you why you love this sport encourage thankfulness for the sport. It also gives you time to take a step back and establish new goals.
  5. Listening to your body will improve your emotional and mental health. Knowing when your mental game needs a break is critical. Not only does your body become physically exhausted, but so does your mind. A good mental game is key to success in most sports. Make sure to treat your emotional health just as importantly as your physical health.

Chelsey Beauchamp, MS
cbeauchamp @