Blogs tagged with "recovery"

Meet my little etching press.

I've been dwelling on a new blog post for so long that I can't remember when my last one happened or what it was about. But I feel a brain-dump coming on so I'll just start writing.

Several times since creating this blog, my first post of the new year has been a recommitment to personal athletic goals. It usually comes after the realization that spending most of my time trying to please others (family, friends, peers, bosses) is a losing battle, that hard work rarely pays off in the workplace, and that I am crap at office politics (well,.. politics in general). After the realization, I crawl in a hole and bash myself to pieces, then crawl out, stand up (slowly), and recommit myself to a new season of running or triathlon. This has been the only thing that depends entirely on me.. and the one way for me to reap the benefits of goal-setting and hard work.

This year, part of me so desperately wants to write that athletic recommitment blog, but I can't. I can't put my "all" into training when I know damn well that my hamstring tendon is still injured. Lately I've had to remove myself from social media because most friends and those I follow are runners and triathletes. After reading and celebrating everyone else's successes for the last few months, I now find myself, not inspired by them, but feeling like a bigger loser, viewing my 2013 season as a huge fail, and declaring my 2014 season a failure before it even happens.

Before racing in London, I had the injury diagnosis. And after returning, I was forced to take time off and focus on healing. Then I survived a car accident. Then I survived buying a new car - which was, perhaps, more stressful than the accident. To avoid going insane, I started compulsively drawing again.

And then came an unexpected light at the end of the tunnel that had nothing to do with training. Somewhere in the mess of the interwebs, I landed upon several artists' websites describing intaglio printmaking with an acrylic plate. I was instantly hooked. My etching press (bought to expedite the process of making Christmas cards) would no longer have to sit in a corner unused for eleven months out of the year. Almost immediately, I was digging out tools, impulse-buying plastic plates and ink, and pulling my old printmaking studio books off the shelf.

This was mid-November - in the midst of the pre-holiday rush. Still hanging over my head was my yearly "other" creative endeavor: block-printing my 2013 card (which due to my procrastination, became its own fiasco of a time crunch). But, I don't f*ck with inspiration. Especially when it is artistic inspiration. I must drop everything and follow it.

And now, after a couple months, I am able to relax a bit and write about it.

For my first prints, I used random photographs I shot on my iPhone. And I couldn't even wait for the purchased materials to arrive. In desperation to get started, I scrounged up some old scraps of plexiglass from an old picture frame and secretly cut it into rectangles at 5:00 a.m. in the farthest corner of the basement to avoid waking up my husband Jim. (If you've ever scored and cut plexiglass, you already know it sounds like a gunshot.)

My first print was average at best, and more impulse purchases were required to find the right ink and all the right tools. I'm still developing my techniques, but I'm seeing improvement (there's that hard-work thing again...). In the even that I never race again, I hope I've found something that keeps me creatively and energetically engaged and has future development and growth potential.

2014 now seems like a new direction. I have some new art and I'm hopeful about my future artistic possibilities for the first time in about ten years. Creating stuff is giving me a sense of internal fulfillment, and if I can no longer compete at the level I'd like to as an athlete, all does not seem lost.

Anyway.. below are a few of the new intaglio prints - starting with the first one - made from a photo of my headlights while I was driving at night. The method I'm using is called "drypoint" - scratching the image into the plate directly instead of etching it with acid (and thus avoiding the hazardous-materials-in-the-house issue). In the future, I would like to switch the imagery and use some of my drawings for inspiration, but my photos are giving me ideas for now.

"Headlights on Boston Mills Road"
"Riverfront Trail Scene 2"
"Le Canal"
"Scenes from the Towpath I"
"Afternoon Near Corn Hill"

There's one big problem with doing an Ironman in early May - it's the beginning of the racing season for almost everyone who lives in northern climates. So basically, I'm starting my season with a big recovery week.

This past week I did nothing. I took five days completely off from training. Strangely enough, I found this was much easier to do than anticipated. Although it did help that I developed a sinus infection, and the last thing I want to do with a sinus infection is get up early and work out.

But my training has re-commenced with a run and a swim yesterday. I can't afford too much recovery time from Ironman because back when I was making plans for racing this year, I decided to do the Everything BUT the Moose"). It was miserable and yet Jim still wanted to go back. All I can say is: maybe we WILL see a moose this year.

What I really need to do now is focus on how to maximize the next three weeks. Mooseman is not an "A" race. And as of last weekend, neither is Ironman Lake Placid. But I would like to make a fair showing at Mooseman. It would be nice to prove to myself that my bike training has done wonders and not get passed on the bike by as many women as last year. It would be nice to have a fast run for a change (after the St. George plodding). And I guess it would be nice to qualify for the Ironman 70.3 Championship in Las Vegas in September. But, I only have three weeks to pull together a plan and a race attitude (which was lacking last year).

I'm thinking the best way to approach it is to just try to have fun. Afterall, I'm qualified for Kona, I'm in ironman recovery and the season has just begun. There's no reason to burnout early.

One of the hardest concepts for me to grasp is the idea of "easy" weeks. As a runner, it took me several years (and several injuries) to finally "get" the idea of easy days and (God forbid) days OFF. But, easy WEEKS? That can't possibly be a good thing. I can understand a couple days of easy training after a really hard race or weekend. But after a few days, everything feels much better and I can go back out and pound the pavement, right?

Wrong. After weeks and weeks of hard training, the fatigue builds up in your muscles and further gains are impossible until you absorb and benefit from the training that went before. I guess a better term to use is "recovery week." As I get older, I find that my body (and mind) need even more recovery after hard training. So, although I've said it many times before, this year I'm scheduling recovery weeks at least every 4 weeks (as opposed to having them schedule themselves when I'm wiped out).
The biggest problem for me has always been figuring out how easy is "easy" to promote true recovery before the next period of hard training. I rarely stick with it the whole week because I worry that I'm taking it too easy and "losing" all the hard work. From a logic standpoint, I know this isn't the case. From an emotional OCD-runner standpoint, it's a killer. But, my plan this year is to make decisions based on science and not emotion. To finally "figure it out" and not make the same mistakes I've made in the past.
My first recovery week was this past week. I did one less workout per sport and dropped the total duration of all my workouts. Will it be effective? Hopefully I will know the answer in a few weeks.

Six days. I've given myself only six days to recover from an oly-distance tri before racing the Steelhead IM 70.3 this weekend. I don't know why six days seems like too short a time - most of us runners have raced multiple times in one weekend in our younger days. Maybe it's because the Steelhead race is a BIG one AND a qualifier for the 70.3 World Championship in November. Six days of recovery doesn't seem like enough time to do my best. It could very well be a disaster in the making (and by definition, then, I must take on the challenge).

But the tri season this year has felt like a desperation exercise for me ever since Ironman Coeur d'Alene in June. Finding races taking entries that don't conflict with events at work has been a challenge. So here I find myself robbing my body of needed recovery time in order to lend meaning to my triathlon season before it ends.

The only way to approach the race cram is to learn something from the experience. Will I be able to push my 44-year-old body through 13.1 miles after a hard 56-mile bike? Tomorrow I will know the answer. I have high hopes after last year's two half-iron distance races only eight days apart. Surprisingly, my run in the second one was five minutes faster. But that was eight days of recovery. And I was one-year younger. Stay tuned.

Six days. I've given myself only six days to recover from an oly-distance tri before racing the Steelhead IM 70.3 this weekend. I don't know why six days seems like too short a time - most of us runners have raced multiple times in one weekend in our younger days.

If there's one thing I've learned in my many years of being an endurance athlete: it's ok to take an extra day off. Thus, Monday was an additional rest day after a swim-only Sunday. The obsessive-compulsive runner in me didn't want to do it, but the rational thinking person won out, after very little sleep on Sunday night and a day of feeling tired and run-down. Will it affect my race? I hope not. Time will tell. It would have been a sub-par workout anyway, so I decided it's best to make sure my body has adequate rest for the hard workout on Tuesday morning.

I've been reading more and more about Ironman training lately, and the important thing seems to be quality over quantity. That may sound strange coming from a workout and mileage junkie like me, but it's what the experts say. Yes, mileage is important when you're training for a 140.6-mile race, but that's exactly the point. I'm training to finish 140.6 miles in a row, not a 140.6-mile training week. Therefore, the quality workouts must also include the quantity. I'll get more from one 15-mile hard training run followed by an easy jog or no run the next day than two 10 milers on successive days. Which brings me to my other point. Rest is necessary for recovery from those harder workouts. I'm determined to not make the same mistakes this time.

If there's one thing I've learned in my many years of being an endurance athlete: it's ok to take an extra day off. Thus, Monday was an additional rest day after a swim-only Sunday.

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