STOP BEING AN IDIOT.
I have a long history of ignoring the warning signs from my body. I remember when I was in college and our rugby team made it to the playoffs after a long dry spell. I was co-captain at the time, and was so insanely pumped to play but was recovering from a broken leg. At one point during the game, I begged our coach to let me play for a little while. I think she felt sorry for me so she let me go in. Then when she saw me limping around, she yelled, “Rachel, you’re OUT!” I limped off like a dejected dog with its tail between its legs.
I did the same thing when I played rugby for New York. After each surgery and requisite physical therapy phase, I would head back to the pitch too quickly to play with my team. And since I rushed back on, something else would go awry. I always ignored the warning signs. I also had a bad habit of popping Advil before practice. Not the smartest thing to do.
So you would think that with age comes wisdom, right? Especially after 40? Well, I’ll tell you that I’m getting better, but I’m still pretty stubborn–and okay, somewhat stupid–when it comes to injuries. I’ll ignore them for a while until it gets to the point where I have to wave the white flag. And that is just what happened recently.
I’ve been training pretty hard in the gym this year. In the first half of the year, I was training 6 days a week, with four lifting days and 2 running days. Then I started adding in a few sprints and a few sets of chin ups after my runs. It was going okay for a while, and then it caught up to me: a major case of overtraining.
It started with a nagging case of plantar fasciitis, aka the most annoying foot injury ever. Just when you think you’re okay to go back to running, the pain comes right back.
Then came a pulled muscle in the back of my shoulder. My guess it was me overdoing it on chin ups, but it’s hard to say.
Bottom line? I was being an idiot and WAY OVERTRAINING.
Friends, please, please, please don’t let it happen to you. Amazing things can happen to you when you scale back, get more rest, and only train 3-4 days a week.
I’ve scaled back a lot this month, and I’ll admit, it was really hard at first. But now I’ve gotten used to the off days, and use them to do a little bit of mat work with some core exercises and then some foam rolling and lacrosse ball rolling. That, along with seeing a new acupuncturist (who is also a chiropractor) has helped a LOT. The thing about acupuncture is that you really have to give yourself over to it. If you get on the table and think to yourself, “this is stupid. It’s not going to do anything for me.” then I truly believe that it won’t. Acupuncture is a leap of faith. And for me, it’s helped me a number of times. After going to her yesterday, I had more mobility in my shoulder than I’ve had all month. I felt like a million bucks. Plus she tells me that I NEED to take Epsom salt baths. And wow, are those relaxing.
So here’s the moral of the story: don’t believe the hype about more is better when it comes to exercise. Better is better. 3-4 good quality lifting sessions a week can truly get you to your goals without limping over the finish line. And if you start to feel pain somewhere, change tack. Don’t just blindly plow ahead.
Stay safe–and smarter than me–out there, fit friends!
PS: I’ll be offering a Cyber Monday special for personal training so stay tuned if you’re interested in working with me here in NC!