ppOk, I did ride my bike once (barely) and go for a few walks, but other than that is was me moving from the couch to the kitchen and back again :) My appetite and metabolism was in overdrive and I allowed myself to eat just about anything I wanted... for the sake of recovery ya know! Just about every muscle was tight with high levels of fatigue with the simplest of physical tasks, like pulling the garbage can to the curb, but that's expected and even welcomed as a sign of a "job well done," right??
The plus side to post-race recovery: more cuddle time with the pooch! <3 <3 <3
My appetite remained steady well into week 2 post race and I continued to embrace this newfound ability to polish off my plate at all meals. It was a "choice week" according to coach which sounded great on paper, but then again I quickly found myself wrestling with anxiety at the sight of my calendar. An empty calendar after 11 solid months of personalized workouts is a bit of a shock and letdown mentally and triggered this sense of "loss" and being "lost" which led me to coin this phenomena as "empty calendar syndrome" (right Cortney??) After finally finishing my race report, those post-race feelings of elation shifted to more of "I'm tired of talking about this." Partially out of exhaustion and partially out of the desire to look forward, not back. I remember feeling TIGHT with a lot of lingering aches and pains and feeling MUCH better after a session of hot yoga. My husband also graciously reminded me that my muscles won't loosen up if I don't move (i.e. "get your booty off the couch and do something if you want to feel better!") Energy was decent and the post-race brain fatigue began to lift, which is good because I had plenty of work to get caught up on.
That weekend we went to Baltimore and enjoyed some quality friend time, which also included a "surprise" long run of about 12 miles with our good friend John. I say surprise because Jordan and I both went into it thinking it was going to be a quick run of 4-5 miles, but it was a beautiful day and I was happy with great company so I was not complaining!
Another perk of the down time: plenty of time to make an awesome halloween costume and catch up with friends.
With the beginning of November came the start of 4 weeks unstructured training. In many way muscle tightness was still an issue, and while general motivation and energy levels were starting to bounce back, the desire to sleep rather than train remained. Twice the weather was beautiful and I intended to get out for a road ride, but found myself taking a much needed nap instead. I actually made it to the pool for a semi-structured quick splash with the swim group in which the simple act of getting in the water, putting my head under and making it across the pool and back was celebrated :)
The "eat whatever I want" mentality began wearing thin on me and I found myself craving healthier foods (thankfully!) This week was marked by a lot of stress and anxiety with deadlines and a seemingly never-ending to-do list, and my ability to cope with such stress without a regular workout routine was dramatically diminished. Let's just say it was a great reminder of WHY I exercise (beyond "for the fun of it")
On Friday night we camped in Lynchburg area and on Saturday crewed the UltraVT Team for the Mountain Masochist 50 Mile, which was fun, inspiring and exhausting all at the same time. I intended to run that day, but it was rainy and chilly and curling up with a blanket in the hammock was MUCH more appealing! On Sunday, however, I managed to make it out on the trails for some quality "trail therapy" with a friend... It did us both good!!!
Where I'm at currently: the unstructured training continues and I'm still caught in a love-hate debate in regards to it. While recognizing the need for the break from training and definitely appreciating the lack of "pressure" to do specific workouts, I definitely miss being coached and the structure and motivation that goes along with it (umm, is it December yet??) That being said, my motivation to exercise has definitely returned, but partially out of acknowledgement that I need to get my butt moving to regain a certain level of sanity in my life (a.k.a. I need endorphins to function at full capacity).
On Monday I took advantage of the gloomy, rainy weather by cleaning up the basement, giving the space some structure and setting up a mini workout space in the corner for my trainer, bike and dumbbells. The goal this year is to have a more permanent space for my trainer and other workout-tri gear so that it's (A) not permanently sitting in the living room, (B) I'm not having to drag it out every other day to be used (C) maybe I won't lose things quite so much (though I probably still will).
Workout-wise this week I'm currently 4 for 4! Monday featured an easy 45 min trainer spin, Tuesday a mid-day 35 minute run, Wednesday a road ride in the valley and today a halfway decent swim workout in the pool. I am looking forward to getting back to a regular routine again, but also in a state of mini-paranoia in regards to coming back too fast and getting myself injured. This is where being married to a PT can prove to be beneficial, because sometimes you need someone to tell you "the reason your knee is hurting is because you ACTUALLY rode your bike yesterday and used your quad muscle, stop freaking out you're fine." (thanks Hubz!)
Anyways, that's a summary of what I've been up to the past 4 weeks and my experience thus far in post-race recovery. It's a long process and one I know cannot (should not!) be rushed, and I'm trying hard to be patient (some days it's tough and other days not so much hehe) My goals moving forward are to get back to my normal eating routine again, continue to work on flexibility, add back in regular swimming and resistance training and continue running-biking as desired. And maybe set some goals and finalize a schedule for 2016!
Kristen Chang is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) and endurance athlete residing in southwest Virginia alongside her husband and dog. Through this blog she aims to share favorite fueling recipes, general wellness and sport nutrition tips and stories from her athletic endeavors.
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