Sunday, March 29, 2009

Heal Thyself, Part I

It was the week I got back from my California adventure, running an easy eight miles on the rolling hills surrounding the lake, when it happened. A dull ache in my right hamstring that had been nagging for a few days suddenly turned into a sharp, searing pain shooting through the back of my knee. In one random stride, I was stopped in my tracks.

I’ve been injured before and have made all those mistakes we know not to make, but do anyway—like stubbornly running through the pain in some lame attempt to stick to a training schedule. When you give so much time and energy in pursuit of a goal, it sometimes takes even more discipline to give it a rest and realize that the time-out contributes just as much to achieving those goals. Luckily, I have people.

After a phone call with Mike, which ended with a mandate to skip the next day’s speed workout and a few pleas to keep smiling, I decided to wipe the worried look off my face and think about ways to speed the healing process. Yes, I know—classic control-freak tendencies coming out. I couldn’t help but wonder what I could do to feel as though I had some power over my own recovery.

First of all, Mike encouraged me to think about what might have led me to this place. What had I done in the days or weeks prior that may have contributed to the breakdown?

“Often it’s what we do outside of training that sabotages our running—it’s not the running itself that leads to injury or illness,” he has reminded me, several times.

That was no mystery to me. After I had returned from California, I had an unusually heavy workload. Good news for my bank account, but it wreaked a little havoc on my sleep. Between the work and the sleep deprivation, I didn’t pay much attention to what I was eating—which is to say, that I was not eating enough of anything, or at the right time.

It was a perfect recipe for disaster during the time that we were also holding weekly mileage at up to 65 miles per week. Training at that intensity means that the body needs adequate sleep and the right nutrients to constantly repair itself. If it doesn’t have the resources it needs to properly recover, it will simply stop working.

The lesson in this? There are many, but a key point is that when life becomes hectic outside of training (and, unless you’re a professional athlete, whose doesn’t?!), I’m better served by tweaking the training schedule, in order to remain healthy. Sacrificing some miles is a better answer than forcing them in just to feed my ego. I’d rather be running less than sitting on the couch covered in ice packs.

With this part figured out, I still had a fantastic case of tendonitis to deal with and just six weeks left until the Boston Marathon. My OCD wasn’t done with me yet. So, I fired off an e-mail to my good friend Christine—a.k.a. the Holistic Guru—to find out what I should be eating in order to promote healing.

As usual, she had some sage advice.

To be continued…

1 comment:

Coach Adam said...

There's mind over matter and then there is mind over mind. Here's hoping you can find peace in your decision so that taking time off isn't a struggle but a reward.