Yup... this girl.
Today I went on a super craptastic run that I'm not even sure I can really refer to as speedwork because it wasn't very speedy. It was a helluva lot of work though, so maybe I'll just refer to it as that. I felt awful for the entire run - I nearly gave up 15 minutes in, but I really didn't want another failed run. Afterwards, though, I was struck by that thought and realized that I have had a whole lot of runs and workouts lately that I felt like were failures. The sad run on Sunday comes to mind, or the strength training workout that made me want to hide from my free weights. In fact, as I thought about it more, I noticed that not a single workout this past week was any good. I had a great run on January 1st, but that's the last exercise that I remember feeling great about, and that one honestly came out of nowhere because I'd been struggling for at least a week before that.
So I did a little Googling and realized that I had pretty much every sign of overtraining you could come up with. I admit that a small part of me is rather proud - who would have thought that the day would come where I was exercising too much? The girl who felt successful if she exercised once a week has come a long, long way. But that is a very small part of me... for the most part, I'm honestly relieved. Does that sound crazy? I was reading the lovely Amylee's post about her trip to the physical therapist, and completely understand what she was saying about feeling like you "wuss out" when you give yourself a break. I knew I was walking a fine line by combining the half marathon training (with faster, harder runs than my last plan) with as much extra cardio as I was trying to do for the now cancelled Cinderella Bootcamp. But I did feel like a quitter when I skipped a workout, or did just strength training and no cardio. I realize this is absurd, but it's the mentality I let myself slip into.
That mentality is now no longer welcome, though. After having done plenty of research (read: looking at a bunch of articles on the interwebs), I am realizing that I need to incorporate more recovery time into my week. And not just active recovery, but full on rest. I need to let go of the idea that as long as I'm not doing the same workout every day, I can still work out every day, and I can work out hard and intensely every day. This is simply untrue! Sometimes I need to just take Bonnie on a walk or do some stretching and call it a day. I am also going to take one full day of rest each week, and just relax. Though I might not need a full day of passive recovery every week physically, I'm realizing that I desperately need it mentally. I have to relearn the fact that I can take a day off every week and not gain back all the weight I've lost, or lose my ability to run or lift weights. I think it will help me mentally and emotionally to have that whole day off each week, and I'm sure everyone in my life (mostly poor David) will greatly appreciate having sane Jessica back.
I am still feeling a little ridiculous even calling it "overtraining" because to me, overtraining is what happens to Olympic athletes who are exercising and training 6 hours a day, 6 days a week. But it honestly feels kind of nice to have a name for it. Lately I just haven't felt like myself, but I couldn't pinpoint why, and so many of the signs of overtraining (there are a lot of signs!) really fill in some blanks for me. I was kind of starting to think something was genuinely wrong with me, and now I feel like I know what is wrong and I can fix it.
Have you struggled with overtraining before?