The Value in Listening to Your Body Before a Workout, According to Turia Pitt

The Value in Listening to Your Body Before a Workout, According to Turia Pitt
Image credit: Turia Pitt Instagram

We’re getting into that point of the year where everything feels like a bit of a mission. Washing your face in the morning? What a chore. Changing your sheets? Forget about it. And going for a run? Well, maybe it’s moved a few points down your list of priorities. Hey, it happens to the best of us. But if your motivation is waning and you’re trying to find ways to approach fitness in a more balanced way, allow us to help.

Turia Pitt, who is an athlete, engineer and motivational speaker, knows a few things about staying focused when it comes to her fitness – she is a marathon runner, after all. So, considering her expertise in the space, we asked her for some advice on looking after your body when training.

Here’s what she shared on staying motivated, and how she uses Fitbit to help her along.

Listen to your body

Lifestyle photo of Fitbit Morgan. Image supplied

Over email, Pitt explained to the Lifehacker Australia team that she is a big believer in listening to your body when it comes to health and fitness.

“It’s one of the biggest things I teach the women inside my running program Run with Turia,” she said.

While keeping consistent is important, and prioritising your health is certainly a necessary practice, Pitt shared that it’s easy for folks to take it a little too far – to the point that it actually works against your progress.

This applies to all people, but in Pitt’s experience, loads of women in particular tend to keep “pushing through when we should really be getting rest,” she explained.

“But, if you keep pushing when your body is stressed or tired or sick, you’re gonna end up in burnout or really unwell, and your risk of injury increases as well.”

The secret here, she added, is that fitness fans should work “to try and tune in to what their bodies actually need”.

“Sometimes that means getting out the door even when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes it means sitting on the couch watching Netflix.”

This process takes time and accountability. And while some people are more than capable of making appropriate choices when it comes to listening to your body, others tend to need a little more guidance (these ‘others’ are me).

Fitness tech can be a real help here

We’re big old fans of smartwatches here and their benefits when it comes to almost every element of health.

In Pitt’s case, she leans on Fitbit’s Daily Readiness Score as an additional means of figuring out what her body needs, and the kind of workout she should be doing. 

“If I have a lower score, I might opt to take it easier, or maybe swap out my run with a foam rolling or recovery session. If it’s higher, well I know I can maybe try to push myself a little further – tackle a PB, do some sprints, or pick a trail with a steeper incline or a longer distance than normal,” she said.

Okay, but what is Fitbit’s Daily Readiness Score and how does it work?

fitness motivation health
Image supplied. Fitbit Daily Readiness Score for fitness

If you’re a Fitbit Premium subscriber you may be familiar with the offering, but for everyone else, the Daily Readiness Score is a figure that is designed to give you an idea of the kind of physical activity you should aim to complete.

Pitt shared that, in essence, “the device collates all your stats and starts to build them into your own personal baseline”.

It looks at things like your sleep quality, heart rate variability and recent activity, and from all that will give you a score each morning that you can plan your day around.

Pitt shared her tips on getting the most out of this function.

  1. The best tip I have for this feature is also the most basic, wear your Fitbit daily! The more data (heart rate, activity, sleep stats) you can give the device consistently, the more accurate your score will be.
  2. Look at the factors that impact your score – if after a few weeks you see that sleep is consistently impacting your score, well then you know that you’ve got to work on your sleep to get a better score in future!
  3. Listen to your score. If your score is telling you to take it easy, trust it! That’s not the day to try and smash out a PB! 
  4. Last tip? Don’t get too hung up on your score. It’s great to have that extra insight into what your body needs each day but look for long-term patterns, not one-off insights. What I mean by that is, if you have a low score, that’s OK! Don’t let it wig you out. Make a note of it, and then get after your day. It’s normal to have low days every now and then.

More tips from a seasoned runner

For those of you who are considering getting into running in particular, which is obviously an area Turia Pitt has a lot of experience in, there are loads of ‘reasons’ people stop themselves from getting into the habit.

From trying to run too fast too soon, or allowing yourself to be beaten down by negative self-talk (or as Pitt puts it, “being a dickhead to yourself”), there are tonnes of ways that we get in our own way. But thankfully, Pitt has called out a bunch of them in this video below.

And honestly, loads of these pieces of advice apply to all kinds of workout types.

Have a watch and consider this your inspiration for finally starting on that fitness journey you’ve been hoping to begin.

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