I had some big plans this morning. Swim. Bike. Run. Not in that exact order, since I usually try to get my run in before the gym opens at 5. Then I rush to the pool and try to score a lane before the masses come to squash my mojo. Then I hit the 6:15am spin class and try to burn the legs out before heading home for a massive amount of coffee.
Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.
I felt a sharp pain in my right knee – it felt like someone stabbed the area behind my patella with a dull knife. So, about three miles in to my run, I shut it down and made my way home.
The only way I can accomplish my goals this year is if I stay healthy. If I exaggerate an injury, I risk Ironman as well as any chance I may have to set a personal best in the marathon this fall. Those are my goals, and I am focused on them.
I feel like I made a solid call in blowing the whistle this morning. I am going to give myself tomorrow off as well, and see where I stand on Wednesday morning.
I know there are a ton of people out there that like to push through pain during workout. Lord knows I am one of them. But I remember what one of my high school coaches said to me after I got absolutely crushed behind the line of scrimmage because I took too damn long to get rid of the ball during practice: he looked down at me, splayed out on the deck with those cartoon yellow birds circling my helmet, and said “well – are you hurt or are you injured?” I looked up and saw three portly, bearded dudes staring back at me – so I took a long moment before pointing at the one in the middle and said “hurt.” His response: “then get the hell up and get back in the huddle. You’re the QB – start acting like one.” There is a big difference between being hut and being injured, and as an athlete you need to know what that difference is – because each of us are different.
After a long, hard workout lifting weights, my arms and back are really sore. If someone pokes me in the tricep, it physically hurts. But it’s a hurt that I like. It confirms that I pushed myself and didn’t simply go through the motions.
After a hard speed work session of hill repeats, sprints, and / or fartleks (yes, that’s a real thing – check it out on Google), my legs are usually sore – sometimes even to the touch. My lower back aches and there is absolutely zero chance of me touching my toes to stretch out afterward (I just wave to them and wish them well). It hurts. But it’s a hurt that I like. It confirms that I went as fast as I could.
After my weekly long run or a particularly tough spin class where I completely burnt my legs out, I am sore for the remainder of the day. But – say it with me – it’s a hurt that I like.
Most people dislike the discomfort that comes with hard effort. But there’s a basic concept that’s talked about A LOT during triathlon training, and that is the ides of simply “embracing the suck”. Your arms hurt because you lifted weights this morning? The discomfort sucks – so embrace it. You ran your butt off this morning doing hill repeats until you puked? The discomfort sucks – so embrace it. You just completed your weekly long run and now you feel like you just went 15 rounds with Marvelous Marvin Hagler? This discomfort sucks – so embrace it.
After you fall into your weekly workout routine, the discomfort should subside (either that, or you’ll simply get used to it hanging around like that pungent odor of smoked weed in the hallway of your fifth floor walkout on the lower east side). You’ll understand how it feels to hurt after a workout. And, as a result, you’ll be better equipped to identify what a potential injury feels like when / if it starts showing it’s ugly no-good rotten face. Don’t get me wrong – I’m no doctor, and if you feel like some soreness that you are experiencing is not normal, you should definitely have it checked out by a qualified professional. Since I know how I normally feel after a workout, I could easily tell that this pain was NOT my usual soreness. So a erred on the side of caution and shut things down for the day. I allowed by body to heal a bit, and crossed by fingers that what I felt would subside.