We hear it over and over, we think, yeah yeah, I know.
But then soon enough, we overstretch ourselves again, and like a child who can’t stop getting into trouble, we bow our heads and take the “told you so’s”.
How did I not see I was going too far?
Okay, I did, but how did I think it would be different this time?
In the past, this was always when a little injury showed up for me in my training. Usually one that would force me to take 3-5 days off, and although those would be a panic stricken 3-5 days, and I would spend most of the time in fear about just how much fitness I had lost. I am now seeing that there can be another side to this, and I am getting a glimpse into what would have happened if injuries were not my body’s first weakness.
Now, before you panic, thinking I am training hard well into my third trimester, don’t worry. I am not so much talking about the physical exercise aspect of things, although that does obviously come into it in some way. Stress is stress after all.
I am still exercising 5-6 times a week most weeks (3-4 runs, 2 strength training sessions), BUT happy to do less comfortably if I feel the need. Last week was one of those weeks, I ran twice, and did one strength workout. The other days were complete rest days.
For me now, the rest aspect doesn’t so much come from a lack of wanting to take time off, I am happy to do that, I don’t feel like I NEED to run, but it comes from the rest of life, not wanting to back off that aspect.
This is the part I think most of you probably struggle with too. This is how the elite runner lifestyle differs from everyone else.
Now, I know many of you DO in fact struggle to take time off when an injury flares up, but in those situations, your body gives you the clear cut sign, STOP! Back the heck off or I will stop you doing what you love to do.
However, with stresses of life, or if you are one of those people who can easily end up overtrained, the signs aren’t quite as distinct.
I ran into this head on last week, and lets just say, my body won.
Now, before I begin, I know that I am in my third trimester of pregnancy, meaning that my body is already working very hard to protect and grow our little girl. I know my own health in a lot of ways is going to be put second behind the baby, and this is a wonderful part of how we have grown as humans, to make sure that little one is safe, no matter what.
And that gives me major relief, that also explains a lot of this, but I have a feeling many people reading will resonate with what I am going to say, because pregnant or not, I would have done what I did, and I would have paid the price.
About 10 days ago, on our final day in Rhode Island for Thanksgiving, I started to feel a little off, but as we often do, I made excuses to counteract each of these, writing them off as nothing.
I felt really sluggish on my run that morning…well, you did the Thanksgiving race yesterday, 5 miles (7 total with warm up/cool down), and you ran faster than you have in a long time.
I felt more tired that morning getting out of bed…well, you didn’t sleep that well last night, that is expected.
My nose was running a lot more than usual…well, I did spend a little while lying on the couch really close to all the cat hair (I am allergic to cats, and had been sneezing all week).
Add to that a bit of a messy journey home (4 hour flight delay, missing our connection, getting home 6 hours later than expected after a 3am wakeup to get to the airport), and the next morning, I knew I had a cold.
But this week was really important to me work wise. We were going to Florida on Friday for our baby moon, and I had a LOT to get done before then. I had scheduled probably a little too much anyway, but I rationalized it with, well, once we get to Florida, I will just relax and make up for it.
I had scheduled 2-4 podcasts a day, plus other meetings and events…Including my glucose test at the doctors, fasting and getting blood work, which again led me to experience those wonderful pre fainting symptoms again.
But no, I had too much to do to back out of these things. I have a baby on the way, and I am a driven person who if she says she is going to do something, will do it.
After all, it was just a cold, sure, I might have to blow my nose in between questions on the podcast (muting the mic of course), but I was still technically relaxing right? Essentially, I was sitting in a chair, talking for a few hours.
However, my body had other ideas, and deep down I knew it too.
By Wednesday evening, my throat had pretty much closed up. In all talking I did that day, I had to take a sip of water after every phrase I said. Honey and lemon was no longer working, and it hurt to swallow. The lack of sleep and rest was really starting to show through.
Steve came home, and had enough, forcing me to take a complete rest day on Thursday.
BUT I have three podcasts scheduled?! We are going to Florida on FRIDAY, can’t I just push through this one more day? I will rest in between podcasts!
You know, those pleas we make with ourselves to not let others down to keep plowing through even when our bodies are screaming at us to stop.
Would the people I was interviewing REALLY mind if I rescheduled because I was sick?
Would it REALLY matter if I had to do those interviews in mid December instead of late November?
Would it REALLY make a difference if I took one more day to rest?
No, of course not. But we can’t accept that.
We set our minds to something, made a commitment to someone, wanted to leave knowing we had dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s.
That stubborn part of us can get us in so much trouble, and for something that doesn’t really matter.
We always say our health is most important, when someone we know or love has a health scare, it reminds us again, health is most important, not money or a career, but health and spending time with those you love.
But then we forget it all over again, and put our health last again.
I am now 10 days into a cold turned sinus infection that could have only lasted a few days.
Granted in pregnancy you can’t take really anything other than Halls throat drops, rub vaseline around your red raw nose, and drink honey and lemon, but as Steve keeps reminding me whenever I complain my cold is still around, is that I did not listen to the warning signs and back off.
This weekend I had to step it up a notch and take Mucinex when the pain in my cheek was so bad that I wanted to cry at 1am on Friday night, making Ginger and Steve go to the store to get me some Tylenol and a heat pack.
I just wanted to admit my stupidity to you, to hold myself accountable to it, and to maybe set off some kind of alarm bell in your mind if you are walking a fine line, that just like a little injury itself, if you listen to it right away, take your rest, and heal, you will come back quicker, refreshed, and ready.
Usually those around us do give us that voice of reason, which is often too easy to ignore, but when they do, LISTEN. They care about you, they want you to be healthy, and maybe, just maybe, they are actually the one who can see what is about to happen here.
Thankfully Steve was able to be that person for me, quietly requesting I back off earlier in the week, but when I did not listen, took a more forceful tone, one that finally made me stop and listen. Drew, also made sure to put his foot down and tell me to rest when I tried to go to the gym on Thursday.
It does however mean that I am now in Florida, on our final trip together as a couple, spending a lot of time sleeping, resting, and hacking up nasty fluids.
So my friends, remember:
You only have one body. You only have one life, and its not all about getting as many things crammed into a day as possible, sometimes it is about stepping back to reset, accepting and embracing the downs to be able to reach the highs, and being a damn human being not a machine!
Preach…or shall we say life lesson, over.