Down Time: Whether I Chose It Or Not!

With my 2015 duathlon season wrapped up, I’m trying to take a few weeks to recuperate and recover. Or I thought I was.

This season started with an SI joint/IT Band uprising in my right leg. My left foot decided to play dirty too, and let me tell you, metatarsalgia is no fun in a sport that requires running as much as duathlon. Add in some random hip flexor pulls and calf/achilles strains, and a guy might well think it’s time to rest for a while.

However, a week of rest is about all I could manage. Leading up to the final two races, Guelph Lake II September 5 and Lakeside on September 12, all I could think about was how much I wanted to not be training for a few weeks. I pledged to take a couple of weeks off.

And the first week, I did. After Lakeside, I put away my gear and kept it put away. I did my physio, got massage, walked a lot, did my usual strength training, and even started yoga — which I really need to counteract and support the rigors of run-bike-run. I signed up for a gym membership — a first, as I’ve been using my home gym for years — so that I can keep up the yoga and cross-train and train all winter without going insane in my basement or on the 200m indoor track north of town.

Not bad, eh?

After that week off, I actually had a spring in my step. So I went for a run on Saturday, and while it wasn’t great, it was nice to be out and not thinking about pace. Actually, I was occasionally thinking about pace — of course I was — but I kept making myself let it go, and actually let myself run some over 5:10 kilometres. My foot was cranky, my hips were sluggish, and as it turns out, I was getting a migraine — but it was fun to just go for a run and make a sport of dodging drunk university students on their way to Homecoming.

Sunday, I took advantage of the gorgeous weather and did a short ride, covering 40k completely disregarding my pace and heart rate. My foot and legs felt great, my head was clear, and I spent a good part of the ride just admiring the splendor of southwestern Ontario in the last days of summer.

Monday brought more physio and my strength training, with an eye to resting Tuesday, biking Wednesday, and possibly running up to yoga on Thursday.

But Tuesday intervened.

I know my body isn’t healed, but apparently it’s also still strained. On my way home last night from watching our friends’ daughter play basketball at the neighbourhood high school, I sprang forward off the curb to cross a busy street in a traffic gap, and immediately felt something pop behind my knee — or somewhere between the calf and hamstring, anyway. Excruciating, and completely shocking.

I hobbled home, and have been hobbling since. The pain is bad, even 24 hours later, and I’ll clearly have to get this checked out in one way or another.

So instead of riding today on a gorgeous Wednesday afternoon, I was cursing my tired legs. Instead of running to yoga tomorrow, I’ll be doing more of what I hate — nothing.

A frustrating conclusion to a frustrating season. But the lesson I’m taking from this is something along the lines of:

A. I knew I needed a break, but I’m not very good at taking breaks. A week off felt enormous, and luxurious, but I should have trusted my first instinct and extended the rest. While the run Saturday and bike Sunday felt fine, they were apparently too much for a tired body. And to think I was planning more of that.

B. I suck at being injured. I’m in such a foul mood right now that I feel I should be quarantined. Kudos to the ever patient Chef d’équipe, who not only insists on ice/Advil/rest, but also makes a real effort to reassure me. The worst of it is not knowing what this is — a knee or hamstring or calf injury. We’re obviously hoping for one of the latter two. I have had some bad strains before that felt like they’d take weeks to heal but were okay after a three or four days, but this one feels like something that won’t be iced away.

C. My house has too many stairs. As I’ve said all summer — and last summer too — there are far too many stairs in this place to handle with sore legs. A person has to really plan their trips to minimize the ups and downs! Of course the previous inhabitant was a 90+ year old woman on her own, so I have no pride in saying that I wish I lived in a bungalow, and not a three-story red brick with high ceilings and therefore even more stairs between floors.

So in any case, it’s a forced rest this week, and we’ll see what the coming week brings. For now, the challenge is mental — keeping myself positive, and letting rest be a good thing, rather than fearing that it will lead to a loss of fitness, obesity, or a life of sloth.

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