Collective Bargaining with your Body
Resting after a period of hard training leading up to a race is common sense, right? Your body can only handle so much before it tells you to stop one way or another, so you might as well take it easy and let yourself recover. This seems like common sense to me, as it no doubt does to you. We all get a sense for how hard we can push our bodies before our bodies push back- in a sense, finding that limit is one of the ultimate goals for endurance sports of all varieties. Ultimately, it’s important to listen to your body when it begins to give you signs that you need to slow down. Doing so will allow you to keep training, while staying healthy and not injuring yourself in any way.
In the past, I’ve usually listened to my body. Overall, my ability to listen to my body in all aspects has allowed me to stay relatively healthy. I NEVER get sick, in fact (famous last words- you can see where this is going, right?). My immune system has become quite hearty, which has been beneficial for my productivity in all aspects of my life. However, I don’t always listen, which is when I pay the price. In the past week or so, I’ve felt a drop in my energy levels. I was still able to continue training, and was logging the miles I wanted for the most part, but it seemed to involve more effort than usual. This is especially true considering I’m more conditioned now than I’ve ever been, after so much training this past year.
Earlier this week, I took a day off from training, and chose to do some work in the yard instead. Unfortunately, that work was digging up old stumps in the yard, the result of some serious neglect by previous home-owners. The beautiful epicurean and I committed ourselves to planting our garden this year, and getting the yard in decent shape. Being that my thumbs are more brown than green, I’ve been naturally drawn to the more maintenance-oriented tasks, such as mowing, weeding, watering, and tilling. Yard work in all senses is a new experience for me, being that I grew up without a yard or the responsibilities that comes with having one. Thus, I don’t have a very good grasp yet on how much energy I exert doing this work. This proved to be costly, as several hours of digging up stumps with a shovel proved to be quite painful for my muscles. None-the-less, I recovered overnight (so I thought), and continued on my normal routine, capping the night with a nice calm run with friends (8 miles and change). However, when I got home, I could tell that there was something up with my body.
Sure enough, two hours later, I was curled up on the couch, covered in blankets, and shivering, despite my 101 degree temperature. My entire body was sore, and I couldn’t move. Sleeping that night proved to be less than comfortable, and I spend the entire next day on the couch, unable to eat anything except bread and crackers (a far cry from my normal and necessary caloric intake!). I certainly don’t get sick often, but when I do, look out!
Thankfully, I’m feeling a good deal better today, and have been able to keep some food down without the nausea and aches that prevented it yesterday. I’m not at 100% yet, but I should be by this weekend, as long as I continue to take it easy. Now, it’s entirely likely that I picked up a bug somewhere that sidelined me like this, and it didn’t directly have anything to do with my training. However, I’m going to take it as a sign and reminder that a large part of maintaining your endurance is resting, and keeping your body healthy so it can accomplish all of the things you are asking of it. I’m going to keep asking quite a bit of my body, so the least I can do is make sure I rest accordingly, on my terms, instead of waiting for my immune system to go on strike. I’ll consider this a fair compromise in my collective bargaining agreement with my body. Don’t mess with the union!