True Recovery & A Focus on Strength-Training

A few weeks ago, I made a conscious decision to cut back on miles and focus on true recovery + a decent amount of strength training. And guess what? Since then, I’ve felt much, much better.

My legs felt dead, heavy, and sluggish. My form felt ‘wonky’ and it took a lot of self-talk to get through even the easiest of runs. I had little niggles that just didn’t seem to want to give up. I felt a twinge in my left quad (helloooo old injury) and my right calf wasn’t having much fun. (Note: I’ve experienced burnout. This didn’t feel like that. It just felt ‘blah’– and when running feels ‘blah’, you must learn to cool it. It’s possible that I recognized the symptoms of burnout before burnout actually happened. Hey, I’m learning!)

Week of May 19th: 4 runs, 30 miles (Soldier Field 10) including: 1 spin class + 1 ART session

Week of May 26: 4 runs, 15 miles including: 2 hours spin, core + leg + hip strength routines x 2, 1 Bodypump class

Week of June 2: 4 runs, 21 miles including: 2 hours spin, 1 hour vinyasa yoga, core + leg + hip strength routines x 1

I keep a paper training log (I know. Weird, right?). Four short weeks ago, I wrote this at the bottom of my weekly log: “I just want to enjoy running right now. Cutting back!”. It took me a few weeks to let go of a redemption dream after Boston. After busting my a** all winter and enduring some seriously horrible training conditions, I was more than eager to get to a 26.2 finish line in my goal time. But my body (and likely, my mind) was not ready for another 26.2 mile beating and it finally dawned on me that the rest of this year will be a success if I take it easy now. I am setting my sights on a fall marathon – and recovery and having fun right now is all part of that plan.

2014-06-02 14.55.01

My favorite place lately.

So, the week of May 26th, I got seriously about doing some strength training. And lemme tell ya, when you haven’t used your upper body in any other way than to pump during speed intervals, said upper body can go into complete shock after a single Bodypump class. I’m not kidding. I was pretty much sore from Sunday afternoon to Wednesday morning and I only loosened up after a Vinayasa class. Clearly, focusing on strength is a good idea before I really begin to commit to a training cycle again. I did two full strength workouts and 1 Bodypump class that week, which is approximately 2 more strength workouts than I do during a good (i.e. normal) week. Each run was 3-4 miles and I felt like I finished each one feeling like it was just right. I didn’t feel like running any longer. Motivation to run was lowwwww. (I can only imagine what this week had been like if I decided to get back to some serious mileage. Crash and burn comes to mind.)

2014-06-05 19.13.23No workouts = more exploring.

The next week was full of some more cross-training – 2 hours spin, 1 hour yoga, + another strength routine. Note: upper body fully recovered from Bodypump. I am LOVING spin class lately. I’ve officially found my favorite instructor yet. She’s “no nonsense”, tough, and plays great music. Another bonus is that she teaches a noon class on Friday which is relatively easy for me to get to. It’s my Friday treat. Plus, it’s the closest I’ve been able to come to a runner’s high – sunshine and rainbows after 1 hour on the bike lately! All of the running miles this week felt easier than the previous week (i.e. I didn’t feel like I was running through sand) and I was even able to “run long” on Sunday. I went for a 8.75 mile trot on Sunday. It felt so good to feel good again. And I couldn’t pass up a recovery run with Kristy who was in town for Marron’s wedding. I’m not sure if it was just the distraction of chatting with her, but I felt better than I have in weeks on that run. Plus, no run can go poorly when it’s followed by brunch with the gals.

2014-06-08 12.52.02-2CT, Liz, Leticia, me, Kristy, and Corey (they waited many cold months to wear those white pants!)

So, two weeks after making a conscious decision to cut the miles and add in some fun strength & cross-training, I’m feeling MUCH better. I haven’t taken note of a single mile split in the past two weeks – it’s refreshing to just run. I haven’t felt any painful twinges and my form feels stronger than it’s felt since before Boston. I doubt I’ll ever be the type of runner than can jump into one training cycle immediately after another. Taking the time to rest and recharge between cycles works for me. Besides, I’m beginning to become aware of my biceps and triceps! Who knew those muscles existed?!

Fall marathon plans to come!

- J

 

 

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5 thoughts on “True Recovery & A Focus on Strength-Training

  1. Sounds like a break is just what you needed! Looks like you are still staying really active :-) Its always fun when the arm muscles start to come out!

  2. Glad to hear that you are feeling better with your break. I find yoga and strength training do help to mix things up during the week (rather than just doing constant running like I did in the past). Hopefully, they are making me stronger and more flexible as well.

  3. It’s amazing what changing things up and doing something because we WANT to and not because we HAVE to can do for us. You still got a lot of awesome work in even though it wasn’t running. Glad you felt good with your group. Can’t wait to hear more about your fall plans. xoxo

  4. After a very busy racing season I a, in the same spot. Time to wind down and refocus on recovery.

  5. It’s good to take a break sometimes. I’m glad it’s working for you! You’ll come back to the marathon stronger than ever.

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