When it’s all going well, life is great. Motivation – tick, fitness – tick, mental drive – tick, tick tick… it’s all so interconnected and you don’t really take the time to appreciate the connection until one element fails.
Being a fairly fit individual, averaging roughly 50 – 60 km/week running, swimming sessions, strength training and stretching, when I am nailing it, I can literally feel my body become a powerhouse with my mind renting the same room.
I absolutely, without a shadow of doubt, know that my body needs the full service in order to be running fit.
But the last 3–4 months, perhaps COVID related, I got a bit slack.
The strength training and stretching sessions had pretty much come to a halt, clearly no swimming sessions and it was just easier to put the trainers on day after day… and of course after one of my longer weekend runs, my back gave in.
Now, there are times when a bit of time out from the pressure of always needing to run can be a bit of a relief, which for the first week, I would say it was.
But as the weeks added up and turned into over a month, I began to feel low in many other areas of my life.
Physically, yes, I get this and probably mentally too (a bit), but my eating got sloppy, I was drinking too much alcohol and my concentration at work started to wein.
My sleeping patterns went haywire, waking at 3am every morning unable to get back to sleep because my body just wasn’t well worked and well rested – my body and mind were just not happy… and the root cause, not running!
We all know the theory, it is nothing new, but the reality of how not running sent me into a downward spiral got me thinking about the effort that is needed to ensure I keep my body stays as strong as possible.
Here are a couple of insights straight from the injured horse’s mouth…
Firstly, don’t get overexcited by the effects of running.
The results happen quickly and it is easier just to keep on running rather than doing other elements.
Secondly, strength and core training is key.
When the running muscles get tired, our bodies revert to the core muscles, and if these are not strong, this is when our bodies start compensating in other areas and injuries happen.
Pre-run stretches and yoga are wonderful ways to ensure your muscles are warmed up and ready for a run, instead of just going out cold.
Even walking briskly for 1km into your run is ideal, this warms your body up, activates the glutes and stretches the hip flexor muscles.
And finally, make sure you rest.
Your body needs to regain and restore and muscle to rebuild.
Book in at the osteopath (I have found some great healing through a number of these sessions) and a full body massage is an absolute treat for my body.
If there is only one thing you take from this post and from my injury experience, it should be this; injury is inevitable, you might run for years or only months before it happens, but it will happen eventually and it’s not fun.
The only way to mitigate this is to cross train, stretch and rest.