With Ironman Arizona in the books for over a week now, it's time to start thinking about doing a little bit of physical activity. I spent all of last week when I got back from Arizona on the couch, watching t.v., drinking and eating A LOT...it was awesome! I had less than no desire to swim, bike, run, stretch, or even skip-to-my-lou. After nine months of training, focusing on only one goal, I was spent. The most strenuous activity I performed was putting up my Christmas decorations...and then I went right back to sitting on the couch...in my Rudolph slippers...with some wine...
If you've ever had a period of high stress or some goal that you were committed to achieving, you probably understand what I'm talking about. And you probably said the same thing I did: "I'm glad it's over!" Whenever you accomplish that goal or finish a task that's required an extreme amount of dedication and effort, it's natural to experience a period of stagnation afterwards where you can't or just don't want to do anything. In the world of endurance sports, we call this the "recovery" period. After the intense physical demands of an Ironman or marathon, a recovery period is essential. Every coach and website will tell you that your body (and mind) need time to recover after such an event. In fact, the Ironman website itself says: "For most age groupers you are looking at 6-8 weeks, at least, to fully recover depending upon what you do for training, regeneration, and nutritional support for the body. The body must go into overtime to repair the damage from the race in terms of the muscular and cardiovascular systems. Your immune system will work overtime as well to help heal you internally along with trying to keep the variety of germs and virus's from getting you sick." Well hallelujah - I'm on it!
As much as my body and mind have welcomed the recovery period though, one week after the Ironman was over, I had the itch - the itch to get off my ass (no, my ass wasn't literally itching...) I've learned that I can tolerate only so much sedentariness and then I start to feel a little stir crazy. So Monday I went for a nice, easy 30-minute run (and then read tonight that I actually should avoid running for 2-3 weeks...oh well!). It was a gorgeous day, I wanted to take advantage of the weather, and my body felt ok. Toward the end of the run, however, I could tell I was feeling a bit tight. I took yesterday off because I just didn't feel like working out, and then tonite, I went to the gym and hopped on the stationary bike for 30 minutes. Whether I'll do anything tomorrow, I'm not sure and the nice thing is, I don't HAVE to do anything. I'm in recovery!! For this week and next week, I can do - but don't have to do - very light activity (less than an hour).
Recovery is important in life as well as endurance sports. You work your butt off, maybe you take care of the kids, manage a household, take care of pets, pay your bills, travel constantly, workout hard...whatever consumes your life, you work hard. But do you allow yourself to recover? You don't have to take a 3-week recovery period - but can you take a few minutes to recover each day? Or take the weekend to recover? Maybe you're laughing or saying you don't have time to recover. Really? Do you have time to be sick? Do you like being irritable to your family, friends, and co-workers? Do you have time to be run-down? Do have the time and energy to feel burnt out? Recovery isn't a shameful thing. It's necessary to get your groove back. Endurance athletes don't train the same way all year long. Their schedules always incorporate recovery periods, even during the training season. Recovery is necessary to allow the body to rejuvenate. Likewise, recovery from the daily grind is necessary to allow your body and mind to rejuvenate. When your body and mind are under extreme stress, recovery holds the key to giving you back the energy and desire to want to jump back on the bike. After a week of recovery, I was already missing the workouts...a little bit. Think about this - you probably do the same things, have the same schedule, all year long. But when do you allow yourself to recover? When do you actually give yourself a chance to miss being on the bike?
Take advantage of a recovery period...And then, get back on the bike. You may be surprised how much better you feel after you've had some down-time....
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