Saturday, February 12, 2011

Rest, recovery, regeneration

A little story about life balance.

It was 6 weeks before my second Ironman Canada. I showed up at the track for my once a week workout with my running coach. We went through a really light warm-up, then did a few form drills and he declared the workout over.

Me: "What?" I said. I couldn't believe it. I thought we were going to put some finishing touches on my speed work. Didn't he realize that Ironman was just around the corner? I was running out of time.

Coach: "You're exhausted, I can see it in your eyes."

Me: "But I haven't been over-training, if anything I've been missing workouts!"

Coach: "Life is like a water chute. Only so much stuff can flow through the chute at one time. That stuff isn't just your training, it's work, it's your relationships, it's your responsibilities. If you try to fit too much through the chute, there's going to be a mess when things burst apart."

Me: "Life's been challenging as of late, but what am I supposed to do? I need to get ready for the race!"

Coach: "Over the next 6 days, I want you to use every minute that you would to train, to rest in a horizontal position. You don't have to sleep. Just rest."

I thought he was nuts but I also knew that I was tired and I did as I was told. The first 2 days were tough because I felt guilty for being lazy. Then I started to recognize how truly tired I was. It took 6 days for me to get the training/racing itch back. He was right on the money. The decision to have me rest that week likely saved my Ironman. I was on the verge of disaster.

The moral of the story. Sometimes life is demanding. As an athlete it's hard to give yourself permission to do nothing, especially when you haven't been able to train much because of other factors. But those other factors drain you, as much as training, if not more. Sometimes, doing nothing is the best training you can do.

This 20 min of writing was done in the horizontal position. My goal to day is to stay like that as much as possible. Time for repairs before the water chute bursts open.

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