Tuesday, December 13, 2011

RECOVERY: A Hop, Skip, and an Injury

Training for and finishing an Ironman makes you feel like you're at the top of your fitness game.  Obviously there are pain and injuries associated with training and the race, which is to be expected.  What I didn't expect, however, was the most painful injury I've ever had during my recovery period after the race.

Taking full advantage of the post-Ironman recovery period and trying to branch outside my normal swim, bike, run routine, I decided one nite last week to do a little workout where I jumped rope for 5 minutes, did a series of pilates, and then repeated twice.  My left calf was a little sore afterwards, but no biggee...

Then last nite, I went to my good friends' house.  Their three kids were showing me their jump rope tricks, so I decided to join in.  On the very first jump, it felt like someone shot me in the calf. I couldn't stand or walk and the pain was unbelievable.  I was left walking like Frankenstein, couldn't drive my stick shift, and was very worried about what damage I'd just done to my calf...

I saw my accupuncturist today (who my friends and I lovingly refer to as Mr. Miaggi because he works wonders).  He gently explained that after Ironman, your muscles are tight...duh.  Plus, you're not doing the same level of workouts as before, only adding to the tightness.  Consequently - don't do explosive workouts (like basketball or, gee, jumping rope) when you've trained for endurance rather than speed!

So here I am on the couch, with my leg propped up, icing my calf, wearing my compression socks, barely scooting around the house, and taking herbal supplements from Mr. Miaggi.  All because - I'm a ding dong...Based on my internet research, an injury like this could take 4-6 weeks to heal. Mr. Miaggi thinks he cut my healing time in half...here's hopin'...

So there are two important things I've learned from this little setback:

1.  Don't think that "recovery" means you can simply segway into totally different workouts.  Change up the intensity and volume, add more strength workouts, but don't stray too far out of the training box.

2.  On a bit of a sidenote, be careful with flying after an endurance event or when you have a muscular leg injury.  Mr. Miaggi wisely told me that after an event like Ironman, your muscles have a lot of little tears, which means little bleeds.  If you sit on a plane after that, those little bleeds can clot, and well, we all know what can happen from there.  So make sure either to allow plenty of time between your event and return flight, or at least wear compression socks on the flight.  And always make sure to drink plenty of water when you're flying to keep the blood circulating.  Flying makes your blood kinda "sludgy" and can contribute to the blood pooling.

At the end of the day, I'm really glad this happened now rather than a month ago or during the Ironman...And it's definitely taught me that "recovery period" doesn't mean "free-for-all."

Have you had a post-event/recovery injury?  What was it and how did you deal with it? 

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