“Recovery” – a fancy athletic term for a constant state of sitting on your behind, drinking lots of water, trying to avoid eating too much food, wistfully looking out at everyone else working out, seriously considering unfollowing them on twitter until you’re healed, trying to avoid getting depressed, passing time with all those things you never otherwise have time for, while still following the founding principle of said recovery: sitting on your a$$ (or lying down) – foot elevation a bonus.
In the week since Hy-Vee Triathlon, I’ve had a lot of recovery time, which I sometimes think is harder than doing a brutal interval set on the bike during a six-hour training day. What am I to do to pass the time and ward off that awful skin-crawling feeling of the sedentary state and accompanying non-productivity? Write, for one; work, for another; cheer on Grampy racing Master’s Nationals Cycling Championships from afar; maybe try to play guitar (I don’t have a piano); pay bills; plot how to pay my bills; and let’s see…
As I started thinking about it, I decided that maybe it would help to make a list of things that are working, at least for me, as I go through this swollen, sausage foot challenge:
Five Important “Recovery Tips” that I’m trying to remember to actually practice, even when I don’t feel like it (maybe writing it out will help motivate me):
1. R.I.C.E. – Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. This formula, while sounding simple enough, is actually a lot harder in practice than it sounds. Sitting with one’s foot in an ice bucket = painful; rest = boring; and elevation/compression = immobilizing and frustrating for someone used to being so active. BUT it really does work. My suggestions:
- Find a good movie to watch or book to read while R.I.C.E.ing.
- Have a fluffy down blanket to wrap up in (at least the rest of you can be comfy).
- Do it.
2. Endurance Shield. I don’t know why it took me until day four of my recovery to remember I had this amazing product (Endurance Shield Relief + Repair) that would help relieve some of the pain of the injury itself, but once I did, I had a happier foot. Shameless plug? Maybe. But it’s really working, feels good and added bonus: moisturizing ;).
3. Drink lots of water – obviously. Staying properly hydrated is also easier said than done when it’s so simple to forget that even when you’re just sitting around (and not thirsty), you need that H2O for recovery!
4. Eat right – your body is fighting to restore itself. Though I’m not pushing my athletic limits, I need to do my body a favor and a) not starve myself out of guilt for not working out and b) not fill my body with junk that doesn’t have the nutrients it needs to restore its hurt and healing self. Some suggestions I’ve found helpful from a combination of googling, Mom’s wisdom, my doctor’s advice and other tips and tricks I’ve been hearing:
- Eat fresh, eliminating as much processed food as possible. This includes lots of fruits and veggies–especially the darkly-colored and nutrient-filled ones and clean, simple ingredients that you could find growing or living in nature.
- Incorporate anti-inflammatory foods including wild salmon and walnuts (omega-3’s!), broccoli, onions and garlic, pineapple and papaya, spinach, and spices like turmeric and ginger. I’m not complaining (and love cooking, which works out well).
- Reduce consumption of foods made with wheat flour and sugar, especially bread and most packaged snack foods, choosing instead whole grains like brown rice (while I’m NOT gluten-free, I do think there is something in processed wheat product that can make me feel…puffy.
- Check out a cool resource I found in Dr. Andrew Weil’s website for some useful information about the mechanics of the inflammation process and more inflammation-fighting diet tips.
5. Get a massage. This is often painful, not always fun but certainly beneficial for keeping everything limber and in full on recovery mode.
OK, so that’s the boring (but good) stuff. Some other things I’ve been doing to pass the time:
1. Making some new playlists. Yes, I’ve been listening to the same one for well over a year now. Probably time for an update. Maybe I’ll share it, if I feel like being mocked for my eclectic taste in music (besides heavy metal, nothing is off limits — Johnny Cash + Tiesto with a little Adele thrown in? Maybe…).
2. Reading some good books. Last one was The Alchemist…
3. Finding a new TV series to watch. I still need to finish the last episode of “The League”. Kind of excited about that.
4. Writing, both for work and for play. :)
5. Working – and no, I don’t mean for my triathlon job, but rather my work for a renewable energy company here in Santa Monica. If I can’t produce some watts on the bike, might as well work to bring some watts of clean renewable energy online to support my TV/movie-watching/computer-using needs… :)
6. Swimming – focusing on the things that CAN be worked on is important, both for physical and mental/emotional health.
I realize that in the broader scheme of things, my injury is pretty minuscule and will heal quickly. That reality is comforting and makes me feel a great deal of empathy for those suffering from more serious issues. No matter how minor, injuries have a way of making one feel powerless and, for me at least, lazy. Never am I more acutely aware of how much I want to ride my bike and run than when I can’t.
When something is taken away from you, that’s when you appreciate it the most – a fact that’s true in sport and in life. It helps to focus on the good stuff and not let valuable energy be drained by focusing on those things out of one’s control. This is my opportunity to work on some of my swim weaknesses, do more office work and have more energy to do stuff like go out on a date on a random weeknight. :) Who knows. Everything happens for a reason, and we can only hope that it’s a really good one. ;)