Saturday, September 3, 2011

Know your limits...and LISTEN to them

I believe I'm pretty good at knowing my limits and sticking with them...most of the time. Most of my limits come more from my asthma than other things (I usually hit an asthma limit before I get sore etc). I know I can't run above a certain speed without having an attack every time, so I stay below that. I know I can't jump up my mileage drastically without getting sick, so I stick to a training plan. I know that I need rest days from running, so I only run 3 days a week. And I know when my asthma is really bad, it's time to take the day off. Everyone has their limits and it's really important to listen to them, even when you don't want to. 

Yesterday my sister went with me for her second training run for the warrior dash, which will be her first race ever. I was in a rush leaving to get to the gym to meet her. When I got there, I realized that I forgot my inhaler. I NEVER run without my inhaler. I knew it would take me at least 30 minutes to get to my apartment, pick up my inhaler, and come back, and then another 30 minutes of waiting for the inhaler to kick in (you have to take it 30 min before exercise). So I thought about it. The training run Ashley had planned was a 30 minute run walk with 30 seconds of running 1 minute of walking intervals. In our first run, we walked slower than I usually do in my intervals and my intervals are usually at least 1:1. This should be a fairly easy run for me. I decided I could handle a quick easy run without my inhaler.

Halfway through the run, my asthma kicked it into high gear. I was wheezing, cramping, and suffering from severe chest pain. It was absolutely killer. But Ashley was busting her butt to finish strong, so I kept running beside her. 

Asthmatics often experience charlie horses (in every muscle) and muscle fatigue when their asthma is bad, and I am no exception. I've had visible charlie horses in my face, hands, stomach, legs, feet and toes before. I most frequently get them in my feet and toes bad enough that my feet curl up in balls and I can't walk or get a shoe on. They are no fun, but I've learned to deal. I also have experienced severe muscle fatigue from it before. I remember before I began running when I was really sick, I'd be so sore everywhere it felt like I'd been to boot camp while I was sleeping. It's the kind of sore you get after a half marathon. During the run I had a terrible charlie horse in my calf muscle that no amount of stretching could relieve. It stayed there for a full 45 minutes after we stopped. It was miserable, and it could have been much worse. I clearly shouldn't have run without an inhaler. It was really stupid of me to try otherwise.
Vader should've used his inhaler

The moral of the story? Know your limits and LISTEN to them. Sometimes it's really hard. It can feel like you're being a wimp or it can be an inconvenience. I know when you're not supposed to run it can feel like the end of the world being cramped up inside. I know if you just got in an extra few more miles you'd set a PDR and what will a few extra miles hurt anyways? I know if you speed it up just a little more, you'll beat your high school 5k time, and wouldn't that be awesome? It is really easy to want to push past where we know we shouldn't. But, it's not worth it. Waiting an extra week to run after an injury is super annoying, but having to wait months when you further injure yourself by going out for a run early is way worse. I'm not saying you shouldn't strive to be a better athlete, but everyone has limits and it's important to listen to them. 

Here's some tips for sticking with it when you shouldn't run:
  • Cross-train - get your endorphins another way by biking, swimming,yoga, or ab workouts (if it's possible). Sometimes this can be almost as fun as running, without causing further damage.
  • Find other ways to relax - Most of us run for stress relief, so find other activities to enjoy that relieve stress while you are stuck inside. Try reading, blogging, meditating, catching up on tv shows, working a sudoku, or listening to the radio. 
  • Talk to your doctor - sometimes, if we've been in the same situation before (my 992nd asthma attack) you don't always go to the doctor. Going to the doctor can be helpful for many reasons, besides the obvious ones. Hearing a doctor give you a length of time to stay away from running can be much more effective, that hearing it on a runner's world forum. Also, they may have suggestions you've never heard of to help in recovery or preventing it from happening again. 
  • Volunteer - You can't get out there are run, which sucks, but now you have an opportunity to give back. Volunteering at aid stations at races can be uplifting and help you get your race fix in a positive way for everyone. 
  • Use it to catch up - running takes a lot of time out of our day, so use the time off to catch up on things you put off like responding to emails or hanging out with friends.
  • Learn from it - not always, but chances are, changing something you are doing can help prevent whatever caused you to take a break in the first place. Read up on what you can do to prevent a repeat, whether it be improving form, taking rest days, eating better, or strengthening a muscle. 
Anyways, pouty and sore from my poor choice, I headed to my apartment with my sister. She was also pretty sore, so I decided to teach her the wonderful art of recovery, wheezy style. We had gatorade, made and ate lots of yummy treats,watched sappy tv shows, and compressed.

It was definitely a good way to recover!
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Questions of the day:
  1. Have you ever been injured/not allowed to run? How did you stay sane? Yes, but never for more than a week. I stuck to the tips I gave above, and focused on getting healthy so I could get back out there. 
  2. What is your favorite way to recover from a hard run or an injury? I love compressions socks and sleeves, swear by the magical powers of gatorade (helps muscle cramps/fatigue), eat way too much, and watch sappy stuff like disney or wedding shows. 

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