Monday, March 14, 2011

The Importance of Rest

NEVER underestimate the importance of a rest day. If your body tells you to take a break, take a break. Things to watch out for - elevated heartrate that doesn't go away during resting periods, heartrate that runs super-high during easy to moderate effort, feeling restless and fatigued - these are all good signs to look for.

I was very keyed up after yesterday's 7 miler. I felt good, and my pace was right where I wanted to be. It was one of those runs where everything goes right. The problem was, as soon as I got home I was jazzed up and ended up not being able to sleep. Couple this with the time change, which meant getting up an hour earlier than usual, and I'm dead on my feet today. I got in a 3 mile run at lunch and now my left calf is tightened up pretty good. None of this is cause for alarm. What I'm pointing out in this lesson-learning opportunity is the danger of perpetuating the issue.

I'm a caffeine fiend. I drink a ridiculous amount of energy drinks, coffee and soda. It is my one true vice. So when I get tired, the first thing I do is load up on more caffeine to try to get over the hump. This doesn't work for two reasons. First, I've built up such a tolerance to caffeine over time, that 'loading' doesn't do a damn thing. Second, it perpetuates the problem by dumping more caffeine into my system that is going to turn around and affect my sleep adversely when I finally try to settle down at the end of the day. Today has been a 'grin and bear it' kind of a day. I had a 12 ounce can of Coke first thing this morning and about a half-cup of coffee later in the morning. Now I'm dragging, but the last thing I want to do is load up on more caffeine. Especially now, when it is going to carry into the evening.

I've done a bit of experimentation with caffeinated energy gels during training and racing and I think there's some more work to be done there, finding out what works best. For a normal routine though, I'm making a concerted effort to have nothing with caffeine in it after noontime. Last week was a test run, this weekend I pretty much fell off the wagon, and now this week is the awkward induction phase. It won't be fun, but I think it will pay off huge dividends in the long run.

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