Thursday, May 10, 2012
Right where I left off, or not
I jacked up my back in March. I bought a new handy kettle bell and started swinging it around like a 34yr old, instead of the ancient 35yr old that I am. You know a year ago the work out I did would have been a breeze...back when I was working out regularly with a kettle bell and doing Crossfit workouts routinely. To take it further back, when I was 25 I could have picked that thing up on a nasty hangover after 2yrs of not working out and been fine.
Instead I threw my back out, my workouts off, and my running schedule in the rubble heap for the week, with just a 15min workout. The best part was not knowing I had hurt my back until I picked up the 2lb box and felt the twinge.
What I want to note about that is not that I am an expert whiner, but that I took it for granted that I could just pick the thing up and start right where I left off...a year ago. That just doesn't work. Even the seasoned runner who takes a couple of months off has to start, not at the 35 mile run, but at the 10-12. Bodies adapt very quickly to stress from exercise, they build muscle and bone density, they infiltrate muscle fibers with networks of nutrient carrying capillaries, muscles either grow for picking up heavy things or shrink to maximize weight/efficiency for long slow work, heart muscles deliver larger volumes of blood per pump so they don't have to pump so many times, and other great adaptations. They do the same when you sit on your butt for 3 months. They reduce all of the above and conserve energy like they're supposed to, and they do it fast. Did you know that when you start working out the most important changes in the first 6 weeks are all neurological, not physical? Cool!
The more often you cycle through fit to lazy (i.e. yearly seasonal training cycle rather than 2 years off), the faster your body will up-manage your return transition from laziness recovery period, but you have to manage it or you end up in bed writing about what an ass you are for forgetting that. The transition into training is not so different for the yearly training folk as it is for the two to three years off at a time folks. It's always a little harder than you remembered, a little more difficult to get yourself going than you thought it would be, and much easier to make excuses than you thought it would be when you decided to start up again.
So here's to the beginning of the season, the first time you notice that it's light on your way home from work, and the first spring-like days that get you jazzed to be outside again after grumbling about all the cloudy days in February. Here's to fast recovery so you can try that again with a measured unstupid aproach.