Back after a short hiatus (Recovery is Queen!)

Hi, all of you three people who read this blog!

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve blogged regularly and I’m here to explain myself with the following reasons:

  1. It’s actually summer for me. I work full-time year round, and September-June I’m also in school for a doctorate. So these past few weeks I’ve really been soaking up the summer vacation.
  2. I started a calorie deficit two weeks ago and it’s killing me! Not really, but certainly my enthusiasm and motivation is a bit lower than when I’m properly fed. So I mostly conserve my thinking energy for what really matters: My job, my friends, my family.
  3. I got my period this week. This makes me feel even more starving and grouchy, and my recovery is a lot slower than usual.
  4. I spent 30 hours last weekend moving heavy furniture and getting my impromptu creative juices flowing due to a furniture mishap in my office, which needed to be fixed before the start of the work week. That burnt out my body AND my mind, and threw off my training for the week.

That’s kind of what I’m here to talk about today- not the burnout part, you can read last week’s entry for that- but the recovery part.

As an aging athlete (with aforementioned full-time job, academics, and family) who is training for a challenging contest at a calorie deficit, my biggest priority is my recovery. This is all worth nothing if I lose my job and break my body and drain my energy sources and can’t recover. I have to remind myself: THIS IS A HOBBY! IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE FUNNNNNNNNNNNNNN

So when the Great Furniture Debacle of 2018 happened last weekend, and Monday I couldn’t squat for shit (but definitely peed), I took two additional days off from my training program. That’s right: I had taken Saturday and Sunday off from my program, and then when Monday went down the toilet I packed it in after those heavy squats and took Monday and Tuesday completely off.

When I say “completely off,” I actually mean it. My training partner, Rage Butterfly, spends her off days doing this, I’m not kidding:

I generally go out to [Local Wilderness Park] Thursday late afternoons for a trail run/swim/run, and tomorrow I’m going to throw in some heavy hill carries as well (I’ve got plenty of logs, sandbags, and an nasty bucket o’gravel) during the first run portion. Yes, the second run is wet, it’s good practice for [Spartan] race conditions. Run is under 5 miles.

You know what I did on my day off? I cooked a boatload of food, 20 meals for the week actually, and in between prepping sat around in the garden eating tomatoes off the vine. I did a load of laundry, took a hot Epsom salt bath, and talked with my brother for a couple of hours. My partner and I talked about whether we should paint the walls of the living room to spruce it up, and if so, what color. The biggest adventure was driving to Trader Joe’s with my bedhead still properly intact to pick up some staples I’d missed during the previous day’s grocery run. Later, I watched a couple episodes of a TV show and did some research on the internet for an upcoming vacation. I drank my fish oil and magnesium and was in bed by 10pm.

THAT’S my kind of day off.

Anyway, I have learned over the years that as much as I enjoy pushing my body, I have to really, really rest at least one day per week. No stress, no plans, no obligations, and certainly no physical intensity.

So, back to those two days off last week, Monday and Tuesday: It screwed up my program a little bit, but here is a vid of my squats on Wednesday. These were a do-over from Monday, when I couldn’t make it through the first set of five and my 85% felt like death:

(Thanks to C who is “helping me brace” by cracking me up)

These squats felt like butter. They were not effortless, as you can see from my elbow positioning- it did still feel challenging to keep my chest up and fire my abs. Part of that is because I’ve lost some mass in my abdominal area and now I’m having to re-learn how to brace against my belt (the physics has changed) which throws me off a bit.

But what I’m attempting to demonstrate is that taking time off really DOES work, and it’s so necessary for my body to be reminded that I love it and appreciate all the hard work it does to keep me well-regulated. If I treat my body well it treats me well back. I didn’t used to have this relationship with my body, but I’m so grateful for that now: When I listen, and respond, in time my body can heal. Yes it’s taken me YEARS to have this relationship with my body- I used to feel so chaotic and disconnected from my body- and I am so grateful for the ways our relationship has grown more loving and connected over time.

I was able to finish most of the 6 days of programming this week in 4 days, by adding my accessory exercises throughout the week and limiting my main lifts (my coach said to eliminate one pressing day). I even took Sunday completely off this week (see above). I’m super glad I took these breaks and highly recommend prioritizing recovery for bleeding, old, preoccupied athletes with full-time jobs like myself!

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