After another setback on the calf strain, today I was finally able to run an hour without pain for the first time since Thanksgiving. The delays have been tough since I was very close to go time on the sub-5 effort, but them’s the breaks. Honestly, it was a good break, and after the run today, I am reinvigorated to work hard.
With the holidays upon us, snow and cold weather here, and a ton of EOY deadlines, the rest of the year will be a challenge. My focus will be on execution and staying consistent. Historically, this is always a shaky patch for me. Social events on top of everything else add another layer of competition for time, and training just falls off the table. Luckily, because of Covid, there are no social gatherings. Good, more time to train and less weight to gain.
To stay motivated and keep the training stores topped off, my plan is for perfect execution. Good rest with clean eating, putting in the time, and no more injuries! What does that mean in reality?
First it means stepping back from the quick food like pizza, and focusing on nutrient rich whole foods. Lot’s of vegetables and fruit. Whole grains and some lean meats. Nothing too dramatic here. We know when something is good for us and when something is bad. It just so happens I need to make more of the food these days because the cafe at work has remained closed since this whole pandemic kicked off. On the bright side though Whole Foods delivers in two hours to the house, so it isn’t too much effort to get something wholesome in the belly. Maybe the trickier obstacle to tackle are the bourbon sippers at night. With not much in the way of external entertainment these days, I think everyone has been drinking a bit more. This has a ripple effect though. For starters is lowers the effectiveness of your rest. That means although you may be sleeping the same amount, it is not actually as beneficial. I have said it before, but good and adequate rest is the key to training hard and staying healthy. Alcohol also packs a lot of calories and tends to demotivate people. So reducing or eliminating happy hour actually goes a long way towards other goals.
Second, I have to be really strict and carve out time for training. Has to happen. Training for me has two benefits. It drains my bad energy and recharges the good. Sadly, the wife tells me I am similar to a dog and have to exercise. When I am getting short and the temper is starting to flare up, she will tell me to go run. (It is either that or I am hangry and need a sandwich). I will leave pissed off, but come back ready to tell anyone that will listen about the killer last mile I did, or where my heart rate was. (Nobody cares, but they listen to be nice) It is like a magic trick. So beyond just the physical benefits, I am also building mental benefits that are so important these days. It is too easy to fall into a slump because the year didn’t go the way we wanted. When those feelings start to pop up, I just drain the system with killer workouts. But consistent training is also the best road to success. Each workout builds on the previous one. In this case 1+1=3. It is really interesting how the cumulative effect is so much greater than the sum of the individual workouts. Also by committing to the workouts I build habits which are more likely to succeed long term.
Lastly, I need to keep ahead of injury. Lot’s of stretching, massages, and compression. Take rest days seriously and recover before getting after it again. Every day doesn’t need to be a PR. The easy days need to be easy so the hard days can be hard. The notion of active recovery is so important to me these days. Staying active, moving every day, but not hammering the same parts day in and out. Waking up and doing a morning yoga routine at sunrise followed up with some trouble spot focus has been a very inviting way to start the day. The oddest part to all of this is that even though as I write these things down, and more so when I actually do them, they are very enjoyable. In reality however, it seems to take real discipline on my part to execute. There in lies the challenge and the need for focus. Keeping these things front of mind, and working on them deliberately are keys to success. The gains are on a multitude of layers, and you absolutely come out better than you went in when you put in the time. Inevitably though we just break down sometimes. No matter how much we take care of ourselves, there will be bumps. Listen to your body. You know you the best, but don’t let it become an excuse. You need a rest day that is fine, but do it tomorrow. Don’t start letting excuses or exceptions creep into your day. Recognize the differences between a looming injury and missing motivation. Find the motivation. Fight through the voice in your head telling you it is ok to stay on the couch because you are tired. Separate the times when the chance of injury is real. Don’t push if it will set you back more than you will gain, but most of all be honest with yourself when you make that decision.