Me and Pre: On Surviving the Hard Days

Yesterday I pulled a Triple.

Not three different types of exercises fit into one workout – not moving from a machine in the gym over to the free-weights and then out for a run.  Three individual, completely separate, massively intense workouts.

I’ve never done this before, but I’m testing out theories given to me by people certified to give them. I’m trusting in a plan that is larger and smarter than me. 

I’ve never done a true triple before because, frankly, I never thought I could.  This path I’m on now is asking me to do all kinds of things that I have not, before, been able to imagine or envision – and I have an imagination to rival most.

A 7.25 mile run at 163bpm average heart rate, a 40 minute trainer interval session (10x1min max effort with 1 min recovery), and the complete P90X plyometrics workout.

The run was fine.

The intervals were even fine.  Hard, but manageable.

It was the plyometrics that tested my mettle.  I dragged my leaden legs through an hour long series of jump-squats, split-stance squats, jump knee-tucks, jump knee raises, lateral leap frogs, gas jumps, squat-jacks, rock-star hops, and more.

I’ll tell you – I usually kill this workout dead.  But there has never been a sadder, more pathetic plyometrics performance than the one that I gave last night in front of a larger-than-life projection of Tony Horton on my wall.

My god. 

The agony.

I’d been watching "Without Limits" during my trainer intervals so my heart was in my throat, because I’m just a sucker for Prefontaine like that.  When I finished plyo I popped the DVD in the player in the TV room and curled up with a comforter and a Double Chocolate Pecan Protein Shake. 

Pre was a madman.  Crazy and driven.  A perfectionist.  Relentless and brash.  He was too much, he was over the top.  He bordered on insanity.

But the way he ran… the beauty in his relentlessness… his unwillingness to compromise – astounding.

Last night Pre was everything I needed.  The movie was mediocre, the casting, in my opinion, questionable.  But it didn’t matter.  It was Pre.

I laid in bed under flannel sheets later and waited as my legs warmed up.  I stayed very still and could feel them healing and growing.  They were thrashed, demolished, worked, and spent.

But they’ll be back.  And they’ll be back stronger.

The magic is in the rest days, people.  The magic is in those reconstructing days when the healing happens under the surface of your skin, and your heart begins to process the enormity of your effort.  With every hard day, your will grows and changes along with your body.  Your determination grows memory and files moments away for future use.

I sat still today and did other things.  I sat still and waited.  It’s starting to happen.  I can feel it.

To aid the recovery process a little, I employ the following methods:

  • Hot baths to soak muscles
  • L-Glutamine fortified protein shakes (speeds muscle recovery – I use 5g per shake, but you should start with 1 or 2g to see how your body reacts)
  • Sleep.  At least 8 hours, usually 9.  This is a priority for me.  If it means I go to bed at 8pm, then I go to bed at 8:00pm, goddamit.  I recommend a lifestyle low in babies in order to make that one work. :)
  • Food.  Eat well, eat often! 
  • Foam roll!

I’m back tomorrow for another crusher and, truth be told, I can’t wait.

*

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8 comments

  1. Sounds quite good, but I would offer only one suggestion. Ice baths after hard workouts are incerdibly beneficial. My XC and T&F athletes use them fairly regularly, particularly after hard days. They come back with legs that are rejuvenated instead of fatigued. We use a Rubbermaid stock tank and fill with cold water. Then a 10 gallon cooler is filled with ice and added to the water. Athletes stay in for up to 10-15 minutes.

  2. Speak more of this L-Glutamine?

  3. Coach Volk… fabulous suggestion! Not for the faint of heart – I remember doing this sometimes after back-to-back softball games in college. I can’t remember why I was in there for softball – either I was injured or the PT-students-in-training were having some fun torturing me. Now all I need is an industrial ice-maker!

    Guy! L-Glutamine. You can buy it in powder form in most health stores (GNC, Vitamin Shoppe, etc.) It is odorless and colorless and dissolves, though the taste is still apparent when you’re taking it in larger doses. I always put mine in a protein shake to mask it, but you can easily dissolve it in water and then chug.

    It’s great for recovery – it’s an amino acid. You’ll notice that it’s usually a primary ingredient in most “recovery drinks” that are marketed to cyclists. Sal is going to kill me cuz he considers it his secret weapon. :)

    Do start with small doses, however – I know lots of people who supplement with it with no issues whatsoever but I do get an upset stomach if I have too much. I figured out what was right for me through trial and error. :)

  4. I love hot baths after really hard workouts but the science says it’s a bad thing to do. The heat increases inflamation. As CoachVolk mentioned ice baths are what you should do. I tried once but didn’t last long enough in it to do any good. I haven’t tried again. Whey protein with l-glutamine is definately a big help. Sleep is also good but with 2 young kids in the house it’s hard to come by.

  5. Ultra – I’ve heard the same about hot baths but there’s just something about them, right?

    I tell myself that it is a psychological healing technique, instead of a scientific one :)

    Ice baths are excruciating! Although, I wonder if actually lasting through the evil part to get to the numbing part would increase your pain tolerance gradually over time? ;)

    All this talk of ice baths is making me cold. Actually, it’s sort of making me want to do it, but I wasn’t really kidding about needing and industrial ice machine… those are cool.

  6. We have the benefit of an ice machine at school, but at home, I’ll use a couple of trays of ice and the bath tub. I’ve also realized that during these winter months stepping into our backyard pool is cold enough to stimulate recovery. After the first few moments of initial shock your body does get used to it. Also doing it over the course of the season, the kids have adjusted to it. They also like the communal/team aspect of ice bathing (“the team that bathes together, stays together”).

  7. It is odorless and colorless and dissolves instantly in water…

    IOCANE! I’d bet my life on it!

  8. Ha! When I wrote that sentence I had a weird feeling and I was trying to figure out what I was being reminded of… you nailed it!!!

    Anybody want a peanut?

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  1. The Everyday Athlete » Blog Archive » Recovery 102: On Ice Baths and Other Shenanigans - [...] a week ago I wrote about how to speed your recovery between workouts.  I mentioned things like sleep and ...
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