Last month, I was asked by a wonderful charity, Champions-4-Children, to run the Boston Marathon in honor of a child living with a serious illness. For those of you that don’t know me, I am NOT a runner, of course, unless I’m being chased. I think, at most, I’ve completed a few short distances of maybe three miles over the course of the year. However, it is totally my personality to one, do things last minute and two, do them BIG. So the idea of running the marathon of marathons and training for it in less than 90 days seemed right up my alley! So, off to the Texas Running Company I went for swanky new shoes, skin-tight running pants, and sunglasses to hide my tears from the pain I was soon to endure.
On day one of training, I kept telling myself, “You can do this…this challenge is nothing compared to that of the kid I’m running for!” In a matter of only three weeks, I went from running zero to 13 miles. I felt amazing, proud, and accomplished. Then suddenly my efforts came to a screeching halt! Busted foot, locked up SI joint, displaced femur, and complete dehydration left me waddling around for days. My amazing running coach warned me to slow down– but I was determined my body could take the stress. I made a huge mistake…I didn’t allow my body time for recovery.
For most of us, the road to recovery never has a finish line in sight, but rather, small vacations along the way. From body aches and pains to daily stress, we are constantly in repair mode. Recovery is not just about taking time off but, rather, “self care”, which is essentially health maintenance through pre and post measures that allow us to maintain a physical or mental state with minimum stress.
Avoid over training: Whether you’re training for a marathon or just simply working up to 2 days of lifting per week, choose a path that is realistic and safe. I advise “ramping up” your program. My rule of thumb is four days on, one day off. For a beginner, they should start with one day on, one day off, and gradually add to their schedule as the body adapts.
Cool down: Shortly after training, take 5-10 minutes to cool down by incorporating similar movements of your workout at a lower intensity. This will help reduce a build up of lactic acid that can often cause soreness and stiffness in the muscles.
Work around it — NOT through it: Common mistake made by many is the “no pain, no gain” philosophy. If you’re in pain, stop and alter your activity. During endurance events, pushing yourself to fatigue is often part of the training. However, if you start to feel joint or muscular pain, listen to your body and take a break.
Plenty of rest: Believe it or not, sleep mode is when the body does all the behind-the-scenes work to give us the results. Growth hormones are produced when the body is sleeping to allow for muscle growth and repair. Also, during sleep, your body will burn roughly 55 percent of calories from fatty acids rather than from glucose. So the next time someone calls you late at night don’t tell them your sleeping– tell them you’re burning calories!
Hydration: Water, electrolytes, potassium, and sodium are key ingredients in giving your body the daily cleanse and replenishment it needs. When we sweat, our body becomes depleted of these important elements, so make sure you’re not only drinking water during exercise. Beverages like coconut water, infused electrolyte water, or Gatorade are great electrolyte replacement options.
Massage: Every 12 hours of moderate to intense exercise earns you one hour of massage work. Not only can a massage provide much needed mental relaxation, it also provides increased circulation that is crucial in muscle repair.
As I write this article, I am in week two of “self care.” For me, that means no running, weekly massages, chiropractor visits, cryogenics appointments, and lots of rest. I have to admit, it’s not a bad life, but I can’t wait to get back into my training!