“Trust the Process” – Mastering the Recovery Balance

The time for another race is getting closer and closer. I have been laying low since US Nationals, attempting to recover from a double that was more trying than I anticipated it would be. I had some struggles and some challenges getting ready to build myself back up again, both physically and mentally. This period made me consider my slow road to recovery a little deeper, and gave me the idea to put together some blog posts on my adventures, experiences and hardships with recovery from endurance athletics. Throughout this experience I told myself to “trust the process”, even when the process led me down an alternate path that I did not expect to be wandering down. This post will focus on my story, before I dive deeper into the concepts in subsequent posts.

Following my learning experience at Canadian Nationals and my redemption race at US Nationals, I tried to listen to my body and only jump into training when my body was ready (a mistake I made last season between Worlds and Lakeside). I knew that 95km of racing sandwiched around a week of travel to and from St. Paul would have an effect on my body, so I took 3 full days off following the race, and a further week to 10 days of easy recovery and endurance workouts to let the body slowly recover. My first jolt of getting back to training was to begin on the August long weekend, followed by several weeks of longer workouts to get me accustomed to the distance that I will encounter at Lakeside.

Drained

“Drained” best describes how I felt after US Nationals. Physically and emotionally.

Alas, it was then that I encountered a trial of a different sort, one that is as much external to my training as it it internal. The Tuesday following two exceptional workouts during the August long weekend was an exceptionally trying longer run interval workout, though I did manage to survive it with positive results. I hoped a good sleep and and an easy Wednesday workout would get me out of the woods and back to normal, but this would unfortunately only turn out to be the calm before the storm. I fooled myself that I was okay the next day after getting through an easy 90 minute ride without side effects, and deemed myself ready to attempt a tough brick workout on Thursday…where I cracked spectacularly and could not finish the workout.

I have been through this on several occasions in my short multisport career, and I have learned a little more with each experience. Each time, I attempted to re-integrate myself into intense endurance training after insufficient recovery from a block of hard training and racing, characterized by a feeling of overconfidence and invincibility. On all occasions, I now wish I had taken more downtime and tipped the balance that direction a bit more, in order to avoid the aborted workouts and forced rest that would follow. I did not give myself sufficient time to REBUILD (allowing your body time to physically repair the damage of the last block), REFOCUS (giving your mind time to step back and regain lost motivation) and RE-ENGAGE (slowly re-integrate your body and mind into the grind of training).

3 Rs of Recovery

My Three R’s of Recovery

After aborting my Thursday brick mid-workout, I took Friday off and Saturday, Sunday and Monday very, very easy. By Sunday and Monday I was feeling better, but resisted the urge to up the intensity (my mistake before Provincials in 2012). I did truncated “feeler” workouts Tuesday and Wednesday to gauge my recovery efforts, with good results and no “drained” feeling. Again, I resisted the urge to push through and complete the full workouts without knowing if my body was 100% (my mistake in 2013 following my last indoor track season). Thursday was a successful (again truncated) brick workout with excellent results, and another recovery day Friday was followed by absolutely no issues during tough workouts on the weekend and into this week. I feel back to normal, but time will tell if what I did will work in the long run. My race at Toronto Island this weekend will be the next indicator of success.

The full effect of my trials and subsequent efforts to correct them will likely not be known until after Lakeside. By then, I will hopefully have gotten through my blog series about my perspectives and experiences with recovery, where I would like to tackle the three concepts of REBUILD, REFOCUS and RE-ENGAGE separately, and can share some longer term results. My hope is that you, my readers, can learn my experiences and become better racers yourselves, ones who pay as much attention to the recovery process as you do the building process. Thank you to Coach Tommy Ferris of Ignition Fitness for seeing me through this tough period, and getting me through to wrap up my first season as a Multisport Canada/Recharge With Milk Ambassador at Toronto Island this Sunday, and Lakeside on September 14.

Until next time…keep Du’ing it!

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