Sunday, September 29, 2013

GIVE IT A REST!

As competitive runners, we walk a tightrope. If our training goes well, if we maximize our abilities, we make it to the other side. Sometimes, however, we fall off the tightrope, and come crashing back to earth.

We've all been there. We push farther. We run our workouts faster. We become invincible. It is the perfect recipe for turning in our personal best. Like a piano wire, we are tuned perfectly. Tweak that wire a little to tightly, though, and it snaps.

Too often, we ignore that final ingredient that is so essential to our success: rest.

Most of us are not professional runners. We have families and jobs. There are days when our workouts must be sandwiched amidst our busy schedules. Sometimes, we are on the road in the predawn hours, or after dark. Many of us scramble to get back to our jobs with minimal discomfort to our coworkers, after having banged out a lunchtime workout, sometimes without time to take a decent shower.

In most of my blogs I have reminded you how remarkable we are. We do things that most normal humans don't dream of. I live in the anthracite coal region of northeast Pennsylvania. The nearest large city is Reading, located about 26 miles south of my home. When a non-runner asks me about a marathon, a common statement is, "That's like running from here to Reading!"

Yes, we do extraordinary things, therefore, we need to take extraordinary measures to keep our bodies from breaking down. The amount of calories we burn makes it necessary for us to "fuel the fire." Our bodies are burning a lot more fuel than the average couch potato. So...eat!!! Eat good stuff, but eat. Replenish those calories, and keep your body strong. Everyone has their own opinion about supplements, but we should all take a multivitamin daily. Keep that water bottle with you all day. Keep peeing clear. Yes, it's gross, but it's the best way to tell if you're dehydrated.

Sleep is essential. Make every effort to log eight hours of sleep as religiously as you log your daily workout. If you can squeeze a nap in there somewhere, go for it. Sometimes a power nap is like a jump start for your body.

Indulge those sore muscles, especially after a long run, with a whirlpool, a hot, or, a swelling-reducing cold bath.

Each week, be sure to include 'rest days.' Maybe it's a day off. Sometimes, as much as we love our sport, there is nothing we anticipate more than that day off to allow things to heal.

After a speed workout, or a long run, work out easily the next day. Take an slow jog, ride a bike, or swim. Break up the lactic acid, but give muscle fibers a chance to regenerate.

October and November are prime marathon months. Keep in mind, that, two weeks out from the race, "The money's in the bank." You will not benefit from any hard workouts you do during that time. You have done the work, now taper, relax, pray for good weather, and have confidence in your training. Toe that starting line feeling rested, and manic with energy. After your marathon, relax for the next month. Take at least three days off from running after the race, and remember that it takes at least one day to recover for each mile of the marathon. Therefore, you can build back into training approximately a month after the race.

Well, I ran 6 miles this morning. I wrote this blog, and now I'm planning on taking advantage of this beautiful fall weather to do some yard work.

Then, I'm going to take a nap.


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