Let’s Talk About Recovery

As I slowly return to the world of the normal, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to maintenance. I try to do a lot for maintenance. Take away my knee, and I’m trying to do even more.

Why do we do recovery? 1) It feels good. 2) It (might) help. I say might because some of these aren’t necessarily proven to work so much as make you feel better, which then might help. The science of recovery is weird.

This episode of The Runner’s World Show actually delves into a business in Chicago (The Edge Athlete Lounge) that focuses on recovery. It’s like a regular gym, but they add in a heavy emphasis on recovery at $125 a month lowest cost (we won’t go into how this inherently caters to the wealthy who already have more access to recovery sources than middle-to-low-income folks).

But me? I can’t afford that. Ok, I might be able to afford that, but I’m not paying and I don’t live in Chicago.

I have to make other arrangements.

So I foam roll – This takes an astonishingly short amount of time, it’s the only thing that lets me function the day after a hard workout, and I just don’t do it often enough. But when I do? Oof. It’s magic.

I stretch – This may be the most consistent thing I keep getting recommended. In a bygone age, I could stand on 45-pound bumper plates and touch the ground. Now, I can barely touch my toes, and that’s an improvement. Between my back, knee, and chest, I’m supposed to stretch out pretty everything from head to toe. I need to start getting compulsive about stretching. As it is, my muscles, especially my legs, are loaded springs.

I yoga (uncomfortable stretching plus some strength) – This doesn’t have the same magic for recovery as a foam roller, but it’s the most important thing I do to remain functional long-term. You can only imagine the betrayal I felt when not only was my knee keeping me away from yoga but there’s a chance that yoga did me in. I couldn’t stay away. For my day-to-day life, this is the best thing I can do, so even if I’m limited, I’m going to find a way.

And I sleep – This one’s my favorite. I like my 8 hours at night. I’d like 9 even better. I like my naps. I like to eat breakfast, and then go right back to sleep for another hour or so. I like to curl up in my blankets in the winter in a quilted cocoon. I like to throw an exercise mat on the ground and get my afternoon nap. And why do I like sleep? Because my body craves it. That’s when I recover. No stress, no activity. Just sleep. Just rest. And you know what? I think I’ll sleep again tonight. I’ll probably sleep again tomorrow. Something to look forward to.

What do you do for recovery?

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Post-Mortem on the Month of Foam Rolling

This is a dual post. We’re going to recap the month, but we’re also going to talk about one of the prime lessons learned over the Super Awesome Year of Me.

Recapping the Month

Through 16 days, I actually did pretty well. I missed two days and had a massage on a third (so no need for foam rolling). The first miss was election night. The other was a Friday. I don’t have a good excuse for the Friday miss, but it happens.

And then I got sick.

The evening of the 16th, I felt a sore throat starting to come on. The next day, I stayed home to try and get ahead of the cold. I failed in that endeavor and was completely out of it for a couple of days. I wouldn’t feel well until Monday, and then I was traveling.

Being sick and foam rolling is a no-go for me, and I wasn’t going to travel with my roller. Those are excusable. Once the 26th rolled (get it?) around, I have no excuses. I just didn’t foam roll, and that’s really dumb when you consider I ran two more times to close out the month.

Lazy. We’ll get more on that in the next section.

So what did foam rolling do for me? Honestly, I don’t know. I’m not sure two weeks was a enough. In that two weeks, I didn’t really notice too terribly much. The one change was slightly better posture, but I was also working on core strengthening exercises during that time too, so I can’t fully credit the roller. My range of motion wasn’t any better, and I didn’t seem any less achy than usual.

All in all, this was a meh month. I don’t know if it would have been if I hadn’t fallen off halfway through. I guess we’ll never know.

The Big Lesson of the Year

The first loss is the worst loss. This is the big thing I’ve picked up. One loss doesn’t mean I have to quit the whole thing, but I’ve learned once that first loss happens, the second one is easier to make.

I think it’s about the streak. You feel more pressure to keep the streak alive the longer it goes. Once the streak is broken, I don’t feel as bad about letting the others happen.

Now usually, one loss does not mean total failure. Especially early in the year, I’ve usually done a good job of getting back on the wagon. Unfortunately, as the year goes on, my energy has faded, and I’ve had a lot of second halves of months that have been total train wrecks.

And this gets to how we set goals. Last year, my goal was do a 5K every month. I didn’t have to run the whole thing or hit a certain time. I just had to finish. I didn’t have to run X amount of days a week. All that really mattered was the 5K. So whether I had a good running month or a bad running month, it was meaningless as long as I finished my races.

I put myself in a better position to succeed. Of course I was still trying to run a few times a week. I’d be stupid not to. But that wasn’t the goal. If it was rainy, cold, obscenely hot, etc., I could stay inside without risking my goal. If an injury came on (and they did), I could let myself heal as much as possible before lacing up for 3.1 miles.

At the end of the day, I still had to run the race. I made it through two freezing-cold races. I traversed the only hills in the state of Florida. I ran in the rain. I ran when I wasn’t entirely sure if my foot was structurally sound. The process wasn’t easy, but the process was more forgiving than daily goals while still providing a long-term plan that running one big race or time would miss.

Basically, this is going to affect my goals moving forward. Next year is 6 1oKs. The one downer is that I’m not setting an every other month rule, so I could technically finish at any time, but I don’t expect that to occur. 1) It was hard enough to find 5Ks, so 10Ks will be even more of a problem. 2) 5Ks beat me up, and 10Ks kick me when I’m down, so there’s a healthy amount of fear here to keep from running them too close together. This will also help ensure I don’t rest too much between races. I can eke out 3.1; I can’t eke out 6.2. I have to truly prep. This will ensure I keep putting shoes to pavement.

But that’s a tomorrow problem. For now, I need to get back to this final month and read some books.

-Q

A Short Post In Defeat

I bombed this month.

I had a good week, and then the wheels fell off. #superawesomeyearofme

A post shared by Quisto Settle (@applications_of_randomness) on

We’re not going to dwell on this long. October’s always a rough month at the university, so I needed caffeine. Also, explainer on the extra marks. Bottom-right is for no cokes (the source of bombing the big marks). Bottom-left is doing maintenance: stretching, core, foam rolling, and/or yoga.

Now that’s over, we’re onto November. I’m foam rolling.

I have no idea what this will be like. I’ve only been a foam roller (well, I’m not an actual foam roller; I mean I’m a person who foam rolls) after workouts, and I’m certainly not working out every day.

Got a race coming up and have to start gearing up for the Super Awesome Year of the 10K.

So tired I almost forgot to title this

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I’ve been so busy this week even my shoes can’t stand up straight anymore.

But it’s been a good week. An exhausting week.

I got in three runs which isn’t fantastic, but it’s still consistency, and my knee is holding up (barely).

I also got in two yoga sessions, one relaxing and one vigorous that I somehow survived (barely).

And I went bowling and imbibed enough to put down a baby elephant and survived (barely).

I’m operating on the margins right now, so it’s interesting. I’m doing my best not to fall off the wagon, but it’ll still be a few more weeks before this feels like a routine instead of an obnoxious thing I’m doing to abuse myself.

Running is getting my priority and everything else is being planned around that.

First and foremost are meals. I’m über picky about what I eat on days I run. I’m pulling a combination of calorie bingeing so that I can still function while trying to avoid completely awful decisions so I don’t see my lunch in reverse during the workout. That said, my only ambition is to eat all the food.

The next thing is yoga. When I wasn’t running, I had set classes I attended. Now I just try to make it to a class when I can on days I’m not running (and my knee’s not being a jerk). Yoga’s my most important exercise. It’s the only thing I’ve ever done that has never left me injured or battered. I might feel tired, but I also feel better. Running and lifting don’t always have that effect. But it’s secondary to running because of how taxing running is. I’m trying to make sure that I’m doing SOMETHING every day. I managed to succeed this week, and I will celebrate by sitting on my ass all weekend. And it’s worked out fairly well because I got pretty close to my calorie goal each day. This is my hardest goal to hit. My continuous activity started Sunday, so I’ve done pretty good. Much better than I’d be had I not been going out of my way to do something.

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And of course, I foam roll after every run. It’s a meticulous process, but it seems to help muscle recovery and my knee. It’s not fun, and since it’s post-run, I stink. But I roll and try to hit all those muscles in my leg that hate me after a run, as well as my back, which absorbs a lot of the abuse.

It’s been a good week, I can barely stand, and I’m sure I’ll have something more interesting to say another day when all my energy wasn’t drained trudging around.

-Q

#ihaterunning