Friday, December 16, 2011

Life Without Exercise?

Yep, that's me, Mr. Couch Potato!

As I mentioned in my last installment, I hurt my back doing a workout I really had no business doing (just goes to show you, even us "experts" make some major mistakes sometimes).  After my trip to Miami and my run with Ryan, it really was not getting any better.  I went to my Chiropractor / Applied Kinesiologist and had him take a look.  He diagnosed it and did some minor adjustments/trigger points and stretches.  I felt better immediately and, of course, proceeded to do a 40 minute trail run.  Felt fine after that and then did 90 minutes with buddies 2 days later.  Again, felt fine during and after the run.  Got up Sunday, went to the gym and did a very, very light bike spin, got down on the floor to stretch and when I went to get up, the pain came back, worst I have EVER felt!  It hurt so bad I left the mat and towel I was using on the floor cause I couldn't imagine bending down to get them. Had to have my family take my shoes off when I got home!  If you have been there, you know the feeling!

Now, just to give you some history, I have had back problems ever since I started doing triathlons (1992) but I have managed them pretty well with stretching, strengthening, etc. and recently, once I adopted regular foam roller use, my back has been as good as it has ever been.  I have had it "go out" many times over the past 20 years, 90% of the time when I am tapering for a race - inactivity is normally the worst thing for my back, but this was beyond anything I had ever felt. 

Went back to the Chiropractor, got some relief again and decided to take some time off running (per his instructions).  Still did some minor workouts however things just were not progressing.  We are now coming up on 3 weeks into this stupid thing!  Finally, I went in again last Monday and he suggested I take a complete week of from all types of exercise - yikes!  I found myself barginning, "what about yoga, swimming, maybe just stretching"?  He said, no, do nothing for a week and lets see what happens.

Wow, can this addict do it?  The pain was severe enough (1200mgs of Advil a day just to make it to work) that I was willing to try anything.  So, as of today, it has been 2 weeks since I have run and almost 1 week since I have done any other type of exercise!   Might not sound like a lot, but if you have been following my blog, you know that this is way, way "out of my box".........

What have I learned?

  • This injury was the first one in my life that actually responded better to inactivity than light or modified activity.  I still feel, based on my 35 years of personal experience and 20 years of experience training clients that 95% of injuries do better with light activity than total rest, but when the pain is this bad, sometimes ya gotta just lay off - especially when you have been training as long and hard as I have!

  • Total inactivity can actually be fun and relaxing for me, for about 2-3 days, then it just plain sucks.  At first, my energy levels soared, I slept well and felt very calm and peaceful (a very strong sign my body needed the downtime).  After about 3 days, the lethargy and malaise set in - I cannot imagine how anyone can live like this!
  • My spiritual life is really helping my chronic anxiety!  Normally, I need morning exercise like an addict needs their "fix" to calm me down and help me face the day peacefully.  During this process, my mood has been fine and anxiety very low, even with no exercise at all:  PRAISE GOD!!!!!

  • The quality of my diet is directly coorelated with how much I am training.  When I don't train, my diet just plain sucks - kind of like having a race car that just sits in the garage (ok, maybe I am not a race car, but how about a really fast VW bug?) - why bother spending any money on expensive, high quality gas for it.  Cookies and ice cream are my new best friend.  Not totally out of control so I have kept my weight gain to about 3lbs, mostly water weight (I pray).

  • I really enjoy running and miss it (this was not a revelation at all, just a nice affirmation).  I don't miss weight training as much (more miss the feeling after a really tough weight training workout than the process itself) but I really cannot wait to get back out on those trails!

  • There is a lot more time in your day when you don't train, however, since I am not as sharp or motivated, the extra time I have really does not add up to any more productivity or quality time with my friends and family - another fact I already knew and preach all the time but good to see in action in the first person.
  • Health is a complete blessing that we should never, ever take for granted.  I have always felt this way but times like this just push that point home even stronger!

The good news is that my back is feeling much, much better  - my plan for now is to do a light hike or 2 with the kids this weekend and then ease back into my program next week, minus the cookies and ice cream (well, maybe minus those after Christmas)....

Please stay tuned and thanks for reading,

Have a blessed holiday season and Merry Christmas to all!