|A beer for what ails me...|
I could feel it coming on the week prior to the Army Ten Miler. I wouldn't call it overtraining, but it was damn near close. I grew increasingly sore, couldn't massage it out, couldn't stretch it out, couldn't get the ibuprofen to work it's magic. But I powered through and ran the race anyway.
My reward? A week off...from running only. I continued to go to the gym and continued to play floor hockey, even picking up a couple extra games in net for teams lacking a goaltender. That following weekend, I churned out a 5K, rode 20 miles alongside my lady, then another floor hockey game. Tuesday, it was back to the roads and a new training schedule. I barely slowed down. My uncle called the sluggishness "race hangover." Hair of the dog, right?
More running and more hockey led to late nights, early mornings, and double (and even triple) workout days. The Jersey Shore had GTL. I had GRH (Gym, Run, Hockey).
I got close to stopping, but like an addict, kept finding excuses to forge ahead. I spent groggy mornings walking the dog and thoughts such as, "If I got sick, then I'd be forced to stop running for a few days" came through the fog. Self-fulfilling prophecy. Last week, I got sick. What's a sore throat, though? I could sweat this out. So, I continued on, tackling the 12-miler with Rohan Veterans Day, followed by a 5K Saturday morning.
The tipping point. With a day off on Sunday (from running), I DayQuil'd it up for my afternoon hockey game. "If I can just get through this game," I reasoned, "I can take a break." I found that most of my sentences started this way: "If I can just get through [insert physical exertion here], then I'll rest."
All at once, my body decided enough was enough and shut it down for me. I wish I could tell you it was making some glorious glove save, gutting out a race win, or even finishing a solid interval workout. It was nothing of the sort. In that Sunday game, five minutes remained in the third period. We clung to a 5-4 lead. I hunched over when the play was at the other end to keep my wits about me and clear my head. The ball (it's floor hockey), came rolling toward me. I reached out to set it up for my defensemen and felt the odd but familiar twinge in my lower back, just above my pelvis. "Eff!" I thought. I knew what this entailed: three to four days of stiff, spasm pain in my lower back.
And so it came to be. I've spent the last three days gingerly moving through the days, trying to make any sudden movements and look as normal as possible when getting out of my chair at work, you know like I don't have a big load in my pants?
Last night saw the first signs of relief. All week I imagined that knot in my back unwinding itself. I jammed thumbs in there, hoping for any sort of release. I spent my free time lying on my back, on the hardwood, neck craned toward the TV. I entertained ideas of close my office door to lie down. I crouched at my desk instead of sitting in the chair. Co-workers walked by and asked if I was sitting at the kids' table. Everyone's a comedian.
Knowing that I haven't been able to run all week, I've sort of relaxed and let the Type A slide away, embraced it, if you will. I certainly feel pangs of guilt when I see the big goose egg in my running calendar for this week, and yes, the November mileage will suffer. But, I can't remember the last time my legs and hips have been completely pain free like this. Nor have I eaten with such abandon without worrying about how it will affect my afternoon, morning, mid-day run.
I had the chance to run this afternoon. I could have squeezed in that mile repeat workout or even the hill workout. Instead, I decided to clean sweep the week and just let everything heal in total. I'll do a shake out run with my wife on Saturday as she gets ready to run the Philadelphia Marathon on Sunday. And I'll lace 'em up with renewed vigor next week and probably hop into a Turkey Trot.
The point is, the lesson learned (again), it's important to give your body a rest. And if you ignore the signs, it'll find a way to force that rest upon you.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got a pizza to finish.