On Wednesday morning I woke up feeling the tingle of a cold forming in my throat and sinuses. I’d run thirteen miles on Sunday, took a rest day, ran five miles on Tuesday, and felt a bit tired that afternoon.
I didn’t quite pay attention to the Day-After-The-Day Lag Rule that says you need to take two full rest days after a hard training or racing effort. While I didn’t go “all-out” while pacing my wife to her two-hour half-marathon, it was a significant enough effort to carry over for a few days.
The strange part in this story, and one I’m still trying to figure out, is why I felt completely jazzed after that thirteen miler. I wasn’t tired at all. In fact I took our dog out to the Bark Park and ran around a bit with her. My energy was high as heck. 7
There was a time that I’d have doubled up on that kind of workout effort and gone out running again in the afternoon. I recall a day while training with the Runner’s Edge team in Pennsylvania that we did a full 20-miler on a Sunday morning. I felt so good all day that I drove my car from Paoli over to the park at Valley Forge and ran another six miles.
These days, I don’t typically double up workouts unless it’s a run and a swim, or a bike and a run, or a run and a bike, or a bike and a swim. LOL. Is that all the possible multisport combos?
Triathletes can do that type of training load because it’s not using the same muscle groups. But I’ve also learned that age determines a few things about recovery times as well. Even if the body recovers well enough from a workout, the mind isn’t always ready to give it a go. Among men, that is sometimes the product of lower testosterone levels. It’s a physical fact––and thus emotional––that many men don’t have the urge or drive to compete or train that we once did.
Some of that testosterone lag can be overcome with discipline. Setting up a program and sticking with it is why many triathletes like the sport. It delivers structure and motivation to their lives.
But the rules of effort vs recovery still apply, and when you’re genuinely tired, or feeling like a cold is coming on, it often pays to accept limitations when fatigue of one kind or another catches up with you.
That’s called taking the “long view” in training and racing. “Live to fight another day…” is an alternate way of framing it.
“See you back out there” is the best explanation I have for taking it easy rather than pushing myself into the ditch of overtraining or illness. Others call it “experience,” yet some might brand me a wimp for not “fighting through” the days when things feel stale.
All I can say is that I’ve already done that in life. My appetites have changed. So might yours if you would like to live a full life, keep active and enjoy what you’re doing for as long as you live. It’s really that simple. Accepting limitations is sometimes the best strategy.