Running: When is Too Much, Too Much? Thinking Out Loud Thursday 3

Linking up with with Amanda today for:Thinking-Out-Loud2

  • Why have any variety in my posts… let’s start it off with another shameless plug….Please vote for me for the Runners World magazine cover!
  • I made my first Acai bowl (as seen in my WIAW post) and I am totally obsessed. I want one for every meal. #NotTheWorstThing
  • One of the articles on Runners World home page lists the “Bucket List: 10 Big City Marathons”. I’ve completed 3 (Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago), and I will complete NYC this year (I’m already at 40% woot!). I hope to run LA in the near future, but only time will tell : ) . The others listed in the article seem exciting for their own reasons, but don’t necessarily top my priority list. I’m working on a post that focuses on my running and “other” goals for the next few years.
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1st Marathon – Philadelphia 2011 Where it all began…

Now it’s time to get deep. Often times I wonder when running too much is too much. Every person has a different threshold of endurance. Some people can run 20 miles a week comfortably. Other people find themselves suffering from overuse injuries once they peak over 40 miles per week. And then a rare breed can run 100+ miles a week, totally unfazed, completely healthy, and race marathons every other (if not every) weekend.

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Neon Life. #EveryoneLookAtMe

I would be lying if I didn’t say I wish I was one of those people. Now granted, most people who are running 100+ miles a week do not have full time jobs or other obligations outside of training. But some do. And I wish that was me. But it’s not.

In all honesty, I don’t think I’m recovered from Boston. 

That is really hard for me to say. Like I had mentioned before, I found myself in a continual training cycle from May 2014 through April 2015. I felt healthy, strong, and rested for 90% of it. I started to get tired towards the peak of my Boston training (65 miles/week). I ran Boston well, and finished injury free. The next morning I woke up stiff, but not in pain, and I felt refreshed. I supposed as refreshed as you can be after running 26.2, or 26.4 miles, in my case.

Still today, I’m sore. I had my first sports massage last weekend and my hamstrings and hip flexors are still contracted despite me stretching and foam rolling every night. I think that by looking back at my recovery, post Boston and 9 months of focused training, caused me to realize a few important aspects that will help aid my recovery in the future.

I had the week after Boston to rest. I promised myself to be smart about recovery. I caught up on sleep. I took a week off of running. But did not totally rest. That Wednesday (read after ONE full rest day), I went to SoulCycle. And I spun for 60 minutes every day during my week of “rest”. Looking back, I didn’t really rest at all. Sure I wasn’t running, and yes I wasn’t putting any impact on my joints, but my legs just carried me across pavement for 3+ hours. Why did I think it was okay to go fatigue those same muscles but just in a different way?

I ate like total shit. Seriously. I never have much of an appetite post race, but come Tuesday I started to eat anything and everything in sight. #AllTheCarbs. The justification of “well I ran a marathon” is great, but not when you’re still using that excuse 6 days later. 2600 calories is 2600 calories. I should have been refueling with 2600 calories of nutrient dense foods. Not 2600 (and definitely more) calories of pizza, frozen yogurt, and candy. I was not providing my body the necessary nutrients to repair muscle damage post race. And that was dumb. #FacePalm.

One part of recovery which I have read mixed reviews on, is the consumption of anti-inflammatories/NSAIDs pre/during/post race. I do not like taking them. Ever. Not only do I have difficulty with my GI when I do, but I also like being aware of how my body is feeling. Sure excess inflammation is not good, but I like to know when my body hurts. In my eyes, to mask that inflammation to receive relief so one can exercise/push on further is not a benefit but rather a risk. However, I KNOW my hamstrings were inflamed. It felt like I had two balloons in the belly of each of them. I should’ve taken an anti-inflammatory to help decrease my inflammation and allow my hamstrings and other corresponding muscles recover more efficiently.

Why do I think I’m still not recovered? My prolonged muscle fatigue and soreness. Have I had decent runs at a decent pace in the last two weeks? Sure. Do I find myself taking longer to recover between those runs? Absolutely.

But the most obvious reason I KNOW I’m not recovered, is that I started showing signs of a mini Crohn’s flare. I went to the doctor last Friday to receive a Remicade injection. Not only was I anemic, but my blood work indicated malabsorption. So you know all those really unhealthy foods I’d be indulging in – any nutrient that they MAY HAVE HAD – I wasn’t getting.

I needed to be smarter about my recovery. And to run and race the way I want, I need to be. I trained so hard for so long, that I almost don’t remember what it’s like to run casually.

The past two weeks, my body was so run down. I felt so sick from my Crohns’ing (totally not a word but go with it..) that I physically couldn’t drag myself out the door to run. I wouldn’t say Crohn’s is a blessing, but in this case, I think it was the obvious sign (i.e. smack in the face) I needed to realize I had to change my recovery process.

This past week, I’ve been running more frequently than I had been. I’ve run every day since Sunday and I’m feeling okay. I had an impromptu tempo run last night at run club, and a longer SLOW SLOW SLOW recovery run this morning. It’s going to take some serious discipline on my part not to push things. I have run the past three days. I plan on cross training today and Friday, with longer easy/slow paced runs both Saturday and Sunday. I should end with roughly 40 miles this week.

Who wouldn’t want to run when your view looks like this…

Some people can push through recovery, and keep on keepin’ on. I’m not one of those people. I’m glad I took the rest I needed, albeit a little delayed, and I think I have almost gotten my groove back.
I’m looking forward to running easy for the next couple of weeks. I’m competitive by nature, but I finally realized, for me to keep competing, I need to take a step back every now and then. And give my body what it really needs.


Do you have trouble taking rest when you need it?

What’s the first sign/symptom you get when you start to overtrain? I usually get calf and plantar stiffness or IT band tightness

Favorite cross training exercise? SoulCycle… but I need to pick up on more strength training

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24 thoughts on “Running: When is Too Much, Too Much? Thinking Out Loud Thursday 3

  1. That’s a really tough lesson to learn. It took me 4 years of running competitively in college and another few months after to let it all sink in and realize that I’m not invincible, I can’t run more than 40 miles a week without getting injured, and that I need to be more proactive about my recovery. For me though, the biggest difference has been about resting rather than cross-training or active rest because it’s the only way for our muscles to fully recover. It’s hard when we’re passionate about a sport to take time off!

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    1. You are NOT alone! I can never rest – any time I consider it, I think I’ll lose fitness in 2.5 seconds (lies) or gain 80 pounds (more lies). I also understand what you mean by Crohn’s being a “smack in the face.” I have been dealing with serious IT band issues (like, couldn’t get out of bed or out of the shower), and it’s made me realize that sometimes WE NEED TO COOL IT. We need to just shhh our minds and force ourselves to rest. When we became runners, we had the discipline to go the extra mile. Now we need to use that same discipline to CEASE the extra mile!

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  2. You are NOT alone! I can never rest – any time I consider it, I think I’ll lose fitness in 2.5 seconds (lies) or gain 80 pounds (more lies). I also understand what you mean by Crohn’s being a “smack in the face.” I have been dealing with serious IT band issues (like, couldn’t get out of bed or out of the shower), and it’s made me realize that sometimes WE NEED TO COOL IT. We need to just shhh our minds and force ourselves to rest. When we became runners, we had the discipline to go the extra mile. Now we need to use that same discipline to CEASE the extra mile!

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  3. The first sign for me is IT tightness, I tried to run through the pain during marathon training and learned the hard way that I shouldn’t have done that. It took me 3 months of PT and recovery to get back to where I am now. Give your body the rest it deserves, it will thank you later!

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    1. I did a similar thing a few years ago. It was NOT pleasant. I keep trying to remind myself that resting and low milage now = avoiding no milage for months! Have a great Thursday : )

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  4. Definitely not alone here–my first signs of overtraining is that my body starts to have multiple microinjuries–and that can come from running or otherwise. And I think that your mini flare speaks for itself–you gotta give that body the rest that it needs. I have found out the hard way that my brain would love to run 40+ a week, but right around 30-35 is my sweet spot. But we all have one–respect yours!

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  5. I definitely have trouble resting my body even when I need it! I get freaked out about losing all my fitness and having to start from scratch. I think the happy medium for me is where I am with training- between 20 and 30 miles. It’s just enough to keep me in half marathon shape, but isn’t too much for my body to handle. P.S. Acai bowls are my JAM

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  6. First off, I voted for you! Yay! Second, yup. I believe yet another reason my run was so awful today was that I didn’t allow enough true recovery time post Nashville marathon which was only three weeks ago! I dove right back in. I was like oh yeah I’ll take it easy…but man, I really just NEED to leave the Garmin at home to run easy because those numbers mess with me head lol my fav cross training is the elliptical. I could ride that thing foreverrrrr. Boston is on my bucket list… Only 11 more mins to shave off my marathon time! Only. 11. Mins. Psssht. We know that’s not easy lol but I’m determined!

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    1. Aww you’re the best! 🙂 I know it’s so nice to just go out and run haha. You can definitely get there! I ended up dropping 25 minutes to qualify then the next time dropped 13 you got it girl!!! When’s your next race!?

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  7. Great picture of you from Philadelphia! I think that with time I’ve gotten better (but still not perfect) at listening to my body and knowing when it needs rest. I love working out and being active, but I also know that my body craves and deserves recovery time. Balance is such a tricky thing, right?

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    1. Haha thank you! It was at half way so I was still feeling good haha. Balance is a finicky beast : ) I’m hoping I’ll figure it out one day!

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  8. I totally have trouble taking off. Running is the best part of my day, so not doing it is a major blow. Having my groin issues these past weeks has been really humbling. I have not been my sparky self at work and I relate it to the lack of endorphins from not running. It has helped with my mental game and hopefully my groin will be healed soon. Good luck getting your groove back! 🙂

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  9. Great post Jamie! I recover awful after a race too. I am down for the count for awhile. I am also not one who can run high mileage week by week. I always end up getting hurt. I am actually training for this next marathon totally different by cutting down the weekly miles and upping the cross training. Hope it can get me to my goal!

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    1. Thanks girl! It took me a super long time to get my training right – not too much running to stay injury free/but enough to have a solid base.

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  10. My first sign/symptom is definitely sore legs that won’t go away and a general tiredness. My race recovery is SLOW… I can never believe when the people jump right back into training a week or 2 later after a marathon. It’s 6 months after my last one. I’ve still been running, but I’m not ready for a marathon again yet. 😀

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  11. Making sure we get enough rest is a tough thing because we love our routine and love to run. My hamstrings get like balls too when I run too much or too fast too often so taking some easy days/rest days definitely does the trick which is what we need to remember. I try to remind myself that a rest day/easy day will make my runs that much better… I really need to try soulcycle! I keep saying it, I know lol.

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  12. Yes we are definitely on the same page! After 5 days of no running at all and feeling just fine, it’s been a huge reminder that I can live my life just fine whether I run or not. When I’m ready to start running again, I will. Awesome that you’re running NYC this year, I am too!

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  13. I have SUCH a problem with rest. I hate it. It just feels like a wasted day. But thankfully my body has ways of telling me I need to rest, like sleeping in till 4pm on a Sunday! (I had jetlag so I’m gonna pretend that’s legit).

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