now that i’ve been running for a while and runs that once seemed like “really long” distances to me are seeming a little easier, i think i sometimes forget the importance of recovery. that’s not to say that i didn’t feel like i needed it on sunday after the previous day’s marathon, but i rested and then i moved around a little and i thought i was good to go.
boy, was i wrong.
monday morning i woke up before my alarm after a bit of a restless night of sleep. this should have been warning sign number 1 that i wasn’t fully recovered. or that i hadn’t done the best job the day (night) before – sunday – really resting.
nonetheless, i headed out for a short-ish and easy shakeout run. about three and a half miles. i actually felt good on the run and got ready and headed to work, but not before chugging my first cup of coffee. this should have been warning sign number 2.
about mid-morning i began to realize that my recovery from the time after the race to the current moment wasn’t quite adequate. i referred to this stage in my dailymile post from this morning as having my “big bright crabby pants on.”
g-chats to a friend were whiny and i was feeling irritated and irritable about just about everything. and i was also feeling a little irrational about all of it. i know it’s always worse in my head, but i really don’t like feeling this way.
so i headed home monday night, had a taco salad and two margaritas and stayed up later than i had hoped which meant i wasn’t any better hydrated come tuesday and while i got a bit more sleep, i did not wake up early enough before work to get in a workout. i was far less crabby, but on tuesday i was just plain old disinterested in running. i headed home from work, had some quick leftover dinner and some water and crawled into my bed.
i slept from just after 7pm to just before 5am this morning and felt fantastic. as an added bonus, when i woke up today, it was raining! i pulled open my windows a little and listened to the rain fall for about 10 minutes while lying in bed and then i knew exactly that i needed to do: run! in the rain!
the run was fantastic. about a mile in, it started raining hard. then it cleared up through the middle of my run. and about a half mile from home a big bout of thunder struck and it began to pour. buckets of rain fell from the sky just as i was returning home. in the early part of my run, when it was raining initially, i ran into one other runner who looked up, grinning and said, “isn’t this fantastic?!” i shouted back, just as enthusiastically, “this is awesome!!!”
and i meant it.
you see, by monday afternoon, i knew i wasn’t had done a bad job of recovering and that i wasn’t yet recovered. the old shayla…the less mature me would have gotten upset about it. she would have beat herself up about it and about the margaritas and about staying up late and she probably would have tried to run yesterday even though it was 100-degrees outside. but that’s not me anymore.
instead, i listened to my body. i gave myself a break – a chance to calm down and to catch up.
sure i wish i hadn’t had the margaritas (maybe i wish i had just one) and i wish i had gone to bed earlier, but it’s all a part of life. i’m not perfect and i am not going to dwell on it.
sometimes i’m glad for the mishaps and for the opportunities to see where i could have done better because it means i’m still learning and growing and that there are things about my body and about my sport that i don’t know quite yet. that mastery is one of the reasons i keep going.
i mentioned a few of the things that should have tipped me off early on that i wasn’t recovered:
- restless sleep (not rested, probably dehydrated)
- chugging coffee (dehydrated, for sure)
- being irrationally irritable (needing more rest and recovery time)
what are the ways you recognize when you’re not doing your best to recover well?
sure, it stinks to not make sure these bases are covered right away, but i’m glad i realized what was up by midday monday.
there are some steps i’ll be taking from here forward to make sure i’m treating myself better, like:
- staying off my feet as much as possible the entire day after a long race
- hydrating at least 1/3 more than i think i need to
- …which may mean cutting out coffee and/or alcohol the day after a race
- eating a few solid, nutrient-rich meals the day after a race
- and generally, just giving myself a break (mentally/emotionally) for a day or two
last night’s nearly 10 hours of uninterrupted sleep followed by a pretty freaking fantastic run this morning remind me of the good that comes from taking better care of myself and listening to my body.
it’s all about tuning in.
as much as i love carpe-ing the heck outta some diem, it’s important to know when to back down a little bit.
recovering well is just as important a part of being the best athlete possible as the actual activity, wouldn’t you say?!