We are IN it to WIN it… right? Race season is in full stride- pun intended. I’ve learned over the past 8 years of race seasons that while my husband believes me when I say I am still 25, my body is like NAAAHHHHHHH!
I’ve had multiple aches and pains pop up over the years that are what many would refer to as chronic at this point, but I believe it’s really just my lack of self-care and ability to take a rest day that isn’t an active rest day. All fine and good, but really, as I tell my fellow fitfam, if you never let your muscles rebuild, you’re not compounding the hard work into results, you’re compounding the effects of breaking down muscle without letting them repair and heal. No good, folks.
So, I’ve taken this race season to cut my training down a lot… which is hard because I have my first triathlon in just a few weeks… and work on cross-training- really using muscles I didn’t know I had, as well as focusing on flexibility and self-awareness. How? Let me share my 5 best tips to selfcare. While I’m not getting faster, my body is healing to a point where my focus can again shift to some badass mile times and heavy weights instead of pain management and ice packs!
It’s like this: warm up, stretch, workout, stretch. But is it? Too many times we don’t actually stretch after a warm up, we loosen up. This is OK pre-workout, but then we almost mimic those same movements post-workout… which is not OK. In no way is a 3 minute cool down efficient and believing it means the muscles we are working (which means the tendons and ligaments we are tightening) are never stretching. Being inflexible causes all sorts of pains and torsions. Adding a few 15-30 minute yoga sessions a week allows for specific stretching of the whole body- a recentering… and if you can manage a whole yoga class, the benefits are going to truly surprise you. So lift, run, box, swim, bike, plank, row, dance… and yoga.
I don’t care what you say- HOT showers are life. I am the scalding, red skin, freezing when the air touches my skin the moment the water shuts off kind of girl. My best suggestion (and saves on the water bill) is take your shower, then slowly make the water as hot as you can handle for a minute or two while you reach up and slowly twist. The heat relaxes the muscles and a slow stretch is just so refreshing. Go ahead- blast the music, drown out the kids, spouse, roommate, upstairs neighbors who are obviously bowling all night, and enjoy a few moments of pure bliss!
This is the time I 100% believe the old adageNo pain, no gain. #foamrolling Click To Tweet
I’ve never had those post-race muscles spasms so quickly broken up than by foam rolling. There are a lot of tutorials out there, so be sure to search specifically what you want to stretch or find a good beginners video and get to it!
I love pedicures… but they’re expense and the fact that I destroy them with long runs and kickboxing means I have to just settle for proper foot care. This means sock changes, icing my feet after long days, massages (thanks, Dave), and making sure the skin is healthy. When dry feet strike, it catches on my socks and hurts. I also have those old blisters that can hurt… and yes, I am still a woman who wants to feel and look good. When I go to the beach I am the one you can tell works out. Not by my body, but from my feet!
I found the exclusive 10th anniversary edition PedEgg Easy Curve. I LOATHE gimmicks, so I had to really be at the end of my rope with my skin to try this out. I was intrigued by the 18K gold-plated file face, which is perfect for sensitive skin, and the curved surface. It contours to my foot for easy use and the perfect exfoliation. I definitely do not want the MOST soft feet… because I am on them all the time and need some of the hard work left on. This new version has 60% more micro files than the original, but works in small doses so it’s both a safe and controlled experience.
As for those black toenails (I see you runner mamas), a really pretty navy with some shimmer to it covers them up, while giving you the perfect color for the season. Dark, mysterious, summer shine. No one has to know the horror that lurks below! I give myself a base, 2 coat, top coat at home pedi every 2 weeks when I use my PedEgg and then show my feet off with a smile… at the beach AND at in the kickboxing studio!
Yes of course we all need sleep, but let’s be honest when you’re logging 25-30-40-50 miles during training weeks, it’s important for us to get at least 6 hours of sleep. For some that sounds like too little, for others that sounds like an eternity but I make 6 my minimum during training season. This ensures both mental and physical clarity and has truly lessened the times I fall or trip while running. Some days, that also means sacrificing training miles- doing 5 instead of 9, because I slept for an extra 45 minutes. Trust me, that added sleep and repair to the mind and body is going to mean more than another few miles one day.
If you forgo the added nighttime sleep, tack on a catnap for 20 minutes during lunch. Close the office door, throw a short show on for the kids, head out to the car with the windows cracked and set your phone alarm. Whatever you need to do to recharge. There is no glory in always being busy, always being drained. It’s dangerous and affects your reaction time, stamina, and stresses the body into performing beyond its means. Of course this means more tripping and falling while running and more effort needed to make the same splits as when you’re well rested, but it also makes driving more dangerous and tasks at work harder to preform. So set a nighttime alarm (my FitBit alterts me), STOP what you’re doing, and hit the pillow!