Sure it’s okay to push beyond your comfort zone when working out. New challenges help you build stamina and nail new personal bests. That doesn’t mean no pain always equals no gain. When shouldn’t you push through? These are some workout red flags you shouldn’t ignore.

Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
Perhaps you are suffering from dehydration or heat exhaustion. Overexertion or just plain hunger are other common culprits. Whatever the reason, the best response is a time out. When you feel dizzy or lightheaded you won’t get any extra points for pushing through your workout. Instead, stop or slow down. Get some water or a sports drink. Cool down in a shady area. Take care of yourself to avoid the risk of fainting or injury.

If your workout makes you feel nauseous or start vomiting, stop immediately. When in distress our bodies send signals. Head the warning early to avoid larger problems later. If you discover diet is the problem make changes as needed. Generally it is best to avoid heavy pre-workout meals. Instead opt for a snack containing carbs and protein that is around 200 calories. Try out new energy bars and gels before you hit the trail so you know how they impact you before your workout.

Muscle cramps or tightness
Sometimes you can stretch the muscle and work through a cramp without too much interruption in your workout. If the pain persists and your workout grows uncomfortably, your body is signaling a problem that should not be ignored. Work different muscles or stop altogether. Head home for the foam roller and or RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation).

Fit blonde catching her breath on a sunny day

Trouble breathing
During moderate exercise you should be able to say a few words. Your breathing will be a bit heavier and your heart rate will be elevated. That is normal.  If it seems you cannot catch your breath or have trouble speaking – that is not normal. Trouble breathing is a sign that you are outside of the safe zone.

Chest pain
Again, your heart rate should be elevated when you exercise but you should not experience chest pain. If you experience chest pain, stop immediately. Consider seeking medical attention. It is better to err on the side of caution.

Being active does a body good. When your workout pushes you outside of the safe zone, don’t keep going. You don’t earn extra hero points by ignoring pain or discomfort if it results in a sidelining injury or worse. Instead, stop and give yourself time to heal.