Confessions of a Former Masochist

Being a former marathon runner, I'm keenly aware of the term 'over-trainer.' There are times when it's difficult to pay attention to when my body needs to rest because I'm so focused on the end goal (crossing the finish line) that taking a day off almost makes me feel as though I might miss an opportunity to get some good training in.

It's really true for any sport, not just marathon running…now that I'm an avid cyclist, it's hard to stay off the bike. Throw in training for triathlons...I also must run and swim. Of course, hitting the weights is on the schedule so that I continue to build lean muscle mass to burn fat, maintain my strength and of course, continue to 'switch it up' so my body doesn't get used to the same type of exercise day in and day out.

But listening to my body has become an 'acquired skill.' Six months after running 5 marathons in 4 years, I tore the Gastrocnemius (the larger muscle of the calf) in my right leg. I took 3 months off and was only able to do Yoga and swim. But, 6 months later, I tore the same muscle AGAIN!

I didn't need my Orthopedic doctor to tell me that I was an 'over-trainer.' I knew I was and was actually proud of it, it made me feel tough because I could endure the pain and keep going.

I've had the gamut of injuries...sprained ligaments in my lower back, a stress fracture in my foot, IT Band problems, Plantar Fascitis, a torn rhomboid, chronic Achilles Tendonopothy (Tendonitis is acute...Tendonopothy results from years of scar tissue build up) and the above mentioned Gastrocnemius tear.

I now know that the cause of these injuries was over-training. I used to think...if you're an athlete, you're going to hurt.

But there is a difference between the pain of your muscles burning during intervals while running, hill repeats on the bike or getting in that last set of overhead shoulder presses. That's good pain. Feeling my Gastrocnemius go 'pop'? That's bad pain and pain one should never have to experience.

Rest and recovery is SO ESSENTIAL. I can't stress it enough. I wouldn't wish my slew of injuries on anyone. Not having the option to get the workout of your choice in BLOWS!

If the body doesn't have sufficient recovery time, it isn't properly prepared for the next training session.

When you're tired and continue to push yourself, that's when you are more susceptible to injury and/or illness.

The absence of rest and recovery in your fitness routine can result in weak and sore muscles, changes to your athletic performance, the breakdown of your immune system, changes to your appetite, the quality of your sleep and additional health factors.

All of these things can happen to you at one time or another if the pure joy you feel from getting in a good workout over-powers the need to rest and let your muscles recover from a string of consecutive workouts.

Teach yourself to listen to your body and make a point to schedule rest days in your workout routine. Even when you don't think you need to rest, your body needs it and will be thankful the next time you hop on your bike, hit the weights, put on your running shoes, get in the pool or do any type of exercise.

Being a trainer and coach, it is my job to educate YOU about the importance of rest and recovery. I challenge and empower you to incorporate a sufficient amount of rest and recover into your fitness program. My hope is that you never endure the agony of an injury or illness that causes your fitness lifestyle to suffer. Take the time to rest, your body will thank you!

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