Thursday, November 10, 2011

Listening to Your Body

Yesterday was a beautiful run. Not only was it a crisp autumn-feeling day with fallen, crunchy leaves and the dogs running like crazy men, but the run itself felt so good. E and I are still on intervals of running and walking, with the majority of it being running. Our intervals have jumped up to three minutes running and one walking eight times through, which makes a total of 32 minutes actually dedicated to the workout. It's not incredibly far, but it is where I am at and I feel good about it. In a week and a half I have gone from two minutes running/one minute walking to almost  doubling the running time. I know E is a bit further ahead in her running fitness, but we both have our strengths and weaknesses and we are working together.
Glacier and Roscoe were beside themselves with excitement. As soon as E arrived both boys started hopping around and wagging their tails. We snapped their leashes on and I think they knew where they were going. They both tried pulling us down the street to the start point of our run, but I was having none of that. Excitement is okay, but controlled excitement is better.
As soon as we reached a crevice in one of the old walls that lines our route, Glacier and Roscoe were put in a  "sit stay" and the leashes detached. E tucked the leashes away in the wall where no one would find them and the boys were released. They took off like shots and ran the entire way. They met other dogs, pedestrians and even stopped to say "hello" to a man feeding bread to the ducks. Glacier even leapt gracefully over a walled entrance way in order to not be left behind. It was quite impressive.
On the way back, Roscoe was pretty worn down and kept pace at my right heel, while Glacier sniffed about; the same as last week. I knew they were both worn out though because when the leashes were put back on, neither boy was trying to drag us down the street. They both drank their fill of water upon returning home and passed out for the rest of the afternoon.
The first two sets of our run yesterday felt a bit tough. Our muscles were cold from the chilly Scottish wind whipping off the "Waters of Leith," a river we were running beside. Once we had struggled through the first eight minutes though, things started feeling good and we ran smoothly. The minute recovery felt great and we both recovered quite quickly. On the seventh interval we even raced up a short but steep incline and although it challenged us, it felt great. I felt like I could have probably gone a few more rounds, and I think E did as well, but I didn't want to over due it. Just because you feel good, it does not mean you should go crazy every time. We're just in the beginning stages and it is really important that we find a balance between pushing the envelope a bit and over doing it.
Being too aggressive could be detrimental to our progress. It could cause injury, which would lead to time off or it could also lead to a depressed immune system. A depressed immune system then leads to sickness and missed sessions. Training consistently and solidly is more beneficial than going-excuse the expression-"balls to the wall" every time and inconsistently because you've made yourself sick or fatigued your body. E says sometimes that she feels we are not working hard enough, but I explained to her that aerobic fitness is more important than bulking up quickly or sprinting crazily through a workout. A lot of the time, slow, controlled workouts show more results than mad dashes. For example, moving slowly through a sit-up works more muscles and uses more energy than if you do them quickly. The slower movements is thus more effective than the fast movements. We're not trying to be  sprinters, but rather, long distant athletes. Even when I was a sprinter when swimming I swam kilometre after kilometre for races that lasted less than thirty seconds.
The funny thing is, here I am talking about knowing how far to push in order to get the most out of your workout and make sure you don't get sick and I am pretty sure I am fighting off a fever. I don't know if it was too much too fast-working out six days a week on the second week may have been a bad idea-or what it was. I can definitely feel it starting, but I keep telling myself "mind over matter." Right now I have my feet soaking in a bowl of hot water, a few essential oils and some epson and dead sea salt in the hopes of boosting my immune system. I have also been devouring oranges and sucking down water, hoping that the Vitamin C will ward off the evil brewing in my system or that the water will flush it out.
The interesting part is that I'm not too discouraged by it. I'm sure I'll end up feeling horrible, but it's just part of the process. I have to get my body used to training again and I'm pretty sure it's just really mad at me right now.
E and I have a session at the gym this afternoon with a personal trainer and will probably get a good cycle in. I plan on going and pushing through, but if things get worse before we're supposed to leave, I will spend the day curled up on the couch with tea. It is my philosophy that missing one day to recover is much better than missing a whole week because you didn't look after yourself. It's also probably better to take a day off and make sure you are well instead of having three crap practices in a row because you didn't give yourself time to heal. I read an article somewhere that addressed "taking a day off in stride." It basically reinforced my feelings about giving yourself time to recover. That said, there is a balance between giving yourself time to get better and pushing yourself to work hard because it will benefit your training in the long run. Training for an elite sport is meant to be challenging and it's really important to realise that sometimes you just have to suck it up and get it done. I kind of sound like a contradiction, but I think what I am trying to say, in a long convoluted manner, is that balance is important to be a successful athlete.
Scratch that, balance is important for success in anything.

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