Oh, what a couple weeks it has been: I will begin to say that I am really, really fortunate to be writing about this topic and not something from my "greatest hits" album on this blog..... You know the post where"girl trains, girl runs race, girl is then out for 6-8 weeks and has to start again...." Sigh.
Honestly, if this was again the case and I was a reader of this blog, I'd be pretty tired of myself and begin to question my motivation and sanity. As the writer of this blog, I try to keep it as fresh and positive as possible without losing the honesty I like to convey on these pages. I digress....
So anyway-and hopefully less dramatic- I am on day 6 of a 7-10 day running break that I voluntarily took. Yep, I volunteered to do this. Actually I told my coach I needed it. A total first for yours truly. So why did I elect to do this when it appeared a few weeks ago that things were going so well? A few things, actually.
The first couple weeks of February were some of the best training weeks I've had in a long time. Running was fluid and fun. I felt strong and had no issues hitting intervals and paces. I even exercised restraint when I wanted to just crush an interval , you know, just because. I felt awesome. Then I didn't. Actually, the current state of affairs is different than I've experienced probably ever. After my epic February of running a lot, getting sick (and crazy dehydrated), going skiing days later, and coming back and back into workouts and then traveling more, you get the idea. For me, it was a lot.
I started getting this weird soreness in my quads. At first I shook it off and almost enjoyed the feeling. (you know, breakdown means progress, right?!) But it didn't go away, and it got to the point where runs were not fun anymore. That and I was getting more and more tired. Oh, and standing up from a chair or getting up in the morning felt a little something like this:
|Noting like a dumb Jim Carrey movie to get my point across:)|
Luckily I heeded my 'check engine' light This was a critical point in my season: do I push through and risk something more serious or do I be a grown-up and back off. I chose Option B this time. And it really wasn't as hard as I thought. I decided I wasn't going to let my ego get the best of me. I needed to rest-it's part of training after all. Not just a day or two, but several.
After talking to Coach and carefully researching, I came up with a game plan kind of like this:
- Rest (duh!). I took three days off completely from working out-weights, biking, yoga, everything. It was fortunately easier than I thought. I was tired and also busy at work so I had plenty of distraction. I had a number of nights of low-quality or not enough sleep, so I made a deal with myself to just wake up naturally-not my usual arbitrary 5:00 AM. I am fortunate to be able to go into the office later in the day, so eyelid-watching became my morning workout. Resting takes guts. Sometimes more than actually facing a hard workout or race.
- Hydration. I hit the water and electrolytes hard. In addition to the fluids I increased my potassium intake and took 500 mg of magnesium (a natural muscle relaxer) every day to help loosen the white knuckled fists that had become my legs.
-Anti-inflammatory foods. Caffeine and wine were reduced. (Sorry, I gotta have my coffee in the AM) and avocados, almonds, leafy vegetables, berries, and foods high in Omega-3's were in. Good thing I like salmon, because I ate a heck of a lot of it this week.
-Ice. Cold therapy seems to calm down flaky muscles pretty fast. I read article written by pro triathlete and trainer Ben Greenfield and took a couple pointers and put a more realistic spin on them. I probably have gone through at least 60 pounds of ice in the past few days on my legs. Greenfield recommends immersing yourself in cold water 2 x 20 minutes a day. I came close to that and it wasn't as bad as I thought. Slowly the soreness started fading into the background, at least for daily tasks. Wearing blue blocking sunglasses after 4 PM and taking 90 dollar supplements was something I just wasn't willing to do. Speaking of supplements....
-Adaptogens. Greenfield mentioned using the 90 dollar drink mix in his article. I have heard a lot of whispers on the street when it comes to taking adaptogens to combat training stress. From the overtraining errors I made a few years ago, my endocrine system and HPA axis ( Hypothalamic-Adrenal-Pituitary; just think the ability to bring it in workouts and then recover and manage life) systems have taken a beating.
My endocrine system still seems to not be what used to be-so recovery is still sometimes harder for me and balance is critical.I am getting closer to facing the fact that it may always be touchy and I have to be extra diligent with balance and load.
Training is a stressor in itself, and add everything else in the body is working overtime. In response to a system that clearly needs some help-I decided to experiment with Rhodiola -a supplement that has been shown to help with stress response (i.e. training, life, work, etc.) and hopefully help with the recovery process recommended by Greenfield and other professional sources. Maybe it's a placebo effect, but I do feel a difference three days in, especially in sleep quality. If you can't sleep deeply you can't heal. Oh, and the supplement I picked up was just 17 bucks!
-*Realizing it's 'just running'. Do I really have to prove something? I have to constantly remind myself that this is just something I do, not who I am. I need to continue to find ways to manage my stress and make smart decisions-for my own quality of life but also others around me.
I get a lot of empowerment from running but in the grand scheme, the world does not stop spinning on its axis because I didn't run for a few days. In fact I don't think the world really notices:)
So sitting here typing this, I hear the bullet whizzing by my head. This could have gotten out of control in a hurry. I won't lie, this was not an easy week and had its mental challenges, but sometimes you have to slow down to speed back up later.
Goals were meant to be adjusted sometimes, and we just have to go with it and carry on. And the learning curve continues.....at least I don't feel like I have spears in my thighs anymore!
Stay the course.