Every so often, Competitor.com puts out an article that I find appealing to my current goals and/or situation. Last week, freelance writer Caitlyn Chock's article "Is Squeezing 100% Out of Yourself Worth It?" actually caused me to pause between impatient clicks on the iPad and coffee sips before my morning easy run. I guess I have actually asked myself that very question perhaps more than once, even if implicitly. Of course, Chock is writing about the fine line of peak performance and injury and how close we can get to the edge-either by domination or relative anhilation of our training cycle. This is a question that will elicit a different answer from anyone you ask, and I may even answer the question differently depending on the day. I will admit, however, that the thought of just giving 90% just irks me. So, what's a competitive girl to do? Give 100%, but not necessarily in an all-or-nothing, knock down, drag out, week in week out fashion-especially in training-but in how I approach the system as a whole.
There are two main things that I think are most important to make sure you're working to appropriate capacity :purpose and recovery. And instead of looking at things always being on the edge of destruction or greatness, look at it as playing a game; the one who gets most of it right usually wins. The Game of Life and Candy Land were staples of my childhood, and I'll attempt to apply them to training in this post.
I am very interested in and could go on and on about purpose of workouts, but I'll refrain for purpose of brevity here.
On my run this morning, I was thinking about the simple goals I have for the year, and one of them is to practice consistent recovery. At a seminar late last year, I recall chiropractor Dr. Dustin Henderson stating the "recovery is a mindset" and I totally agree. In order to actually put legs to this goal I have made it into a game of sorts. And just like any game, you have to play by the rules; since I made the game up myself, I get to make them ;)! Please note that they are subject to change and are result of years of research and development.
So, how do I play? The object of the game is to complete a full month of training (including rest days-yes, rest days!); after that, I get to advance to the next month until I arrive at race day. After I land on race day, I sit out a turn (usually a couple days) and advance to the next round. Each round has a new challenge, whether it be a different purpose, further or faster, and a different race at the end.
As for the rules of the current level I'm on, they are as follows:
1.) Three easy days is needed in between a harder effort-for me, it is either a longer run or a faster effort. This requires some strategy, but appears to be a smart move
2.) Actually resting. Working doesn't count, but putting the feet up reading, napping on the weekends, etc. is where it's at. Taking a day off each week to 10 days also falls underneath this rule.
3.) The 30-minute rule for refueling. Nutrition around the workout makes or breaks the next one. The player is to always have some protein on hand or available after a workout.
4.) Heart Rate is not to exceed 145 on days after workouts.
5.) Increase mileage OR pace across a 3-week period, then subtract 20% of the highest mileage of the three.
The pieces used in this version of the game are a pair of New Balance 890s, a pair of Saucony
Virratas, PowerBar gel, organic protein powder, Ray Arroyo (or when in Austin my mother Grayson)'s massage techniques, and a training log, complete with blank spots and workouts to land
on. Each piece gets used for different moves.
Playing by the rules seems to result in better, more enjoyable running and increased feelings of confidence and control. It may also result in a nice little race time at the end of it.
Violations of these rules results in drawing a card with penalties of taking an unscheduled day off, soreness usually in the backside or lower legs, and loss of power and overall momentum. Repeated rule violations result in injury and loss of multiple turns.
Believe me, just like any game, I want to advance my turn and try and move a space while nobody's looking, but usually cheating may get me ahead initially in the game, only to either get caught or fall back behind later on. I've been playing for this game for a while now; who knew that it could be so addicting!
Thanks to the reader for checking out my recovery game. It is a complete work in progress, but it helps to have some established guidelines as I progress throughout the cycles. Please note that what works for one athlete, may look totally different for another. Some may need more, or less easy days/days off/ sleep, etc. But believe you me, once you get the game down, the prize of running keeps on giving!
How do you wrap your head around the "little things"?
Stay the course.