Ever tried acupuncture?
Today was my day. My back has been tight for awhile now, it comes and goes, but mostly comes. My hamstring still tightens up sometimes and honestly I think I have running injury PTSD. This is when you have frequent flashbacks to a time when you were injured, sitting on the couch, staring at your crutches and wanting to punch every runner you see when you drive down the road.
Today I visited a medical doctor who has a holistic practice where she does acupuncture. She is 55 years old and did her first Ironman (she has done three) when she was 51. She has persevered through some setbacks and she made me see that setbacks are often just a part of the process. They are not a reason to quit or back down.
Unlike some doctors, this woman really gets it. She told me that a lot of times endurance athletes do what they have to do to hold their bodies together, and this usually involves some type of bodywork. She reminded me that we are a tough group, and that with the right blend of recovery and other resources such as acupuncture, massage, cross training and/or core work, we can usually find a way to keep going and avoid injury.
I know she is right. I have come to accept the fact that endurance sports – be it a long distance triathlon, a marathon or an ultra marathon – is what makes me happy. Training and racing and feeling strong in my body makes me feel complete and confident. I will do just about anything to keep moving, but I want to also be the healthiest version of myself (something that involves a cheetah skirt):
That said, I am not a pro athlete and will never be. I do not have unlimited time to train, unlimited money for coaches, therapies, etc. or dieticians to help me eat the best way possible. My life is real: I have kids and a job. This means what I do has to fit into my budget and my lifestyle without getting me off balance. It also means I have to do a lot of research on my own.
I think the trick is that each of us has to find what works for us. There is no set rule or solution. Finding what works for us includes, but is not limited to, asking yourself these questions:
- What type of obligations (family, job, etc.) do you have outside of training and racing? How much time can be devoted to your fitness goals?
- How many miles can you put in per week before you break down? Do you have a number?
- How much, if any speed work, can you do before pushing the edges of injury?
- What type of resources, if any, do you need in place to keep you healthy (massage, PT, coaching, acupuncture, chiropractic) and how much of it can you afford?
- What foods make you feel the best, help you recover the best and give you the most energy?
- How much sleep do you need per night?
- What type and how much strength/core work do you need to do?
- How many races, if any, can you safely and financially incorporate per year?
- What type of cross training works best for you?
- Where do you like to train the most? On trails, in the water, on the roads?
Customize a life that best fits your circumstances and who you are. Think about what makes you happy. Think about how to best find balance. Remember this is your journey and you need to do it your way, and not mirror anyone else’s path.
It may be too soon to tell, but when I got off that table, my back felt better than it has in months. Funny thing is, most of the work was not on my back, but on my IT bands and my left hip (where I had my stress fracture). She said my hip was so tight she wasn’t sure how I was running at all.
Bring on the training!!
What do you do to hold your body together while training?
What race is next for you? For me, looks like I’ll be training for the Denver Colfax Marathon in May! I’m sure I’ll throw in some shorter races as well – and some tris during the summer.