“the discipline to recover”
“Any one can train hard.
Do you have the discipline to recover?”
These wise words were written by Lauren Fleshman in her poem Athletic Assessment. (Gotta love poets & runners.) I remember those two lines really stuck out to me, since it’s something I (and I’m assuming many other athletes) struggle with. It may sound backwards, but running mile repeats in the morning or hot yoga after a long day at work is easier for me than sleeping in for an extra hour, or skipping a workout entirely. Why? Because exercise is something that fuels me — it clears my head, helps me be more productive, and generally makes me happier. On days off I usually feel sluggish and it’s hard for me to concentrate. I also tend to have a wildly annoying appetite, which usually makes me moody.
Of course, rest and recovery is what gives you that fire behind hard training days. Carving out time to foam roll, stretch, and ice keeps your body fresh and less at risk for injury. Same goes for those long and lazy days on the couch. Still, it’s hard to keep any active person more or less sedentary, even if it’s just for 24 hours.
The other tricky thing about rest and recovery is it’s different for every person – and then different for each person depending on the day. For me, I typically find 1-2 days off a week works. But working out is SO intertwined with the rest of my life, and if I’m super stressed out, usually all of my workouts are crap and I need to take off a few days in a row – or deal with being frustrated after a 3-mile run at [insert very slow pace]. (My one exception is being hungover — I always have awesome runs after a night of drinking. Maaaybe I should drink more often?)
Anyways, this is all coming from my morning at the track that ended up being a total flop. I took off on Saturday, so thought my legs would be fresh for a nice speed workout. I got eight hours of sleep, enjoyed some coffee + episode of Breaking Bad (SO GOOD), and then headed out into the perfect 55 degree day. I had 3 sets of 3×200 repeats on my mind, but after 5 repeats I stopped. I couldn’t finish. I was running them at a pace two seconds slower than what I normally do (which is a large chunk of time for 200’s) and I literally thought I was going to faint, throw up, or both. I didn’t even want to take a few more minutes to catch my breath and try to stretch it out and finish. Instead, I walked off the track and walked home.
At first I was sad about it. Frustrated. I thought about my week of training to see if anything was out-of-the-ordinary hard. But nothing stuck out.
Mon: 6 miles, yoga Tues: 5 miles Weds: 5 miles Thurs: Lift Fri: 5 miles Sat: Off
So why did I feel like absolute crap? I’m not entirely sure. But I’m also not entirely sure it even matters. I felt was I felt, and my body was clearly telling me to stop. And I’m kind of proud that I didn’t trudge through those final repeats. It’s still super frustrating that one week I can have day after day of great workouts, and the next be super out of it. But instead of feeling annoyed, I’m trying to embrace the bad days, or at least allow them into my life. Understand it’s part of the process and the journey.
I’m disciplined on the roads and on the track. Now it’s time to stay disciplined when off them, too.