Ben learns the true meaning of recovery
To make matters worse, my coach was visiting me in Seattle, and while he would disappear for hours at a time to ride his bike or to run intervals at the track, I was left trying to get my endorphin fix on my parent’s old NordicTrack. I pretended that the cross country skiing simulation didn’t hurt my knees, but this was another point of denial in my recovery. It didn’t hurt as bad as running or riding my bike, but it still hurt. The doctors and physical therapist told me to take time off, but I kept pushing it. Even flip turns in the pool were painful. It was only near the end of September, when I had cancelled two races on my schedule and pulled out of the USA Triathlon National Championships (right after the swim), that I finally realized I had to accept the fact that I was truly injured and focus my attention toward healing, rather than continuing to push my ever-decreasing limits.
I took two weeks off of my bike completely. I haven’t done this since I bought my first bike in 2005. I stopped running for a week, and when I started again I would drive to the track and run on the turf to avoid any impact. I actually did an 8 mile run on the soccer field one day! If it weren’t for my Forerunner 405 keeping track of the distance, I would not have known how far I had gone in an hour of running circles on the grass.
Unfortunately, by pushing myself into training, rather than just resting, I had started compensating for my injured knee. My running stride was uneven, and my pedal stroke on the bike was choppy. I realized that by pushing through the injury I had actually developed a slew of additional problems to deal with. This is when I made my first major breakthrough: Recovery is recovery. Yes, I am defining a word with itself, but the point I am trying to make is that injury is your body’s way of letting you know it’s time to back off. Up until this point I had figured that “time off” just meant doing something different from training. I wasn’t letting my knee heal by spending hours on the cross-country skiing machine, and I wasn’t letting my body recover by continually trying to see how much it could handle.
Again: recovery is recovery. If I had spent the same amount of time elevating my knee with alternating ice and heat as I did on the NordicTrack or trying to run in the grass, it probably would have healed twice as fast, I may not have lost so much fitness, and there’s a good chance I wouldn’t have had to pull out of all three races. In hindsight, the problem actually started mid-summer. I went from the Olympic Training Center, where my only cares in the world were eating and sleeping between workouts, then to a race, and then right back into my normal life at home with school and work and family, and I expected my body to keep up the same training load that I had at the OTC. I have learned my lesson. Recovery is recovery, and that’s something we should all remember as our lives become increasingly busier and more stressful: remember to set aside some time for good old relaxation! With this in mind, I still have a long road to being healthy again, which I’ll talk more about in my next post. And speaking of a long road, check out data from a recent run in Garmin Connect. I took the "long cut" to get to Chipotle. My 57-minute run made that burrito even tastier!
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