Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Taking Fatigue In My Stride

Last week, I worked quite hard: I swam on the five weekdays, for a total of a hair under 10km, and then went to the gym at the weekend. I went to acupuncture twice, and managed a few social engagements as well. After each bout of exercise, I felt 'good' tired; my muscles felt like they had done some work, but not sore. I might be a bit achy the next day, but I hadn't overstressed anything.

I have to watch my overall level of tiredness as well as, though. If I do too much on one day, then I'm often much less effective the next day, sometimes to the point of being a total spud.

Having to watch my fatigue is often counterintuitive, because I'm gauging neurological tiredness, and we've evolved to be better judges of muscular states. Pumping a bunch more adrenaline out is not going to help me escape the hungry lion, if it's my brain that is not going; my legs are still going to flail about.

The problem with taking too much rest is figuring out how much is 'too much'. If I don't stress my system just the right amount, then it will take longer to recover. I am already comfortable with the notion that it will take years of work to get better, but if I can shave months off that time, I want to.

So, yesterday, on Monday, I had to decide whether to go swimming or not. It was a crappy rainy morning, which definitely influenced my mood, but rain often makes the pool less busy. Muscularly, I was a little sore, but I expected that after working out my upper body on Sunday. However, I felt tired yesterday morning, and decided not to go, full of misgiving that I was just being lazy and self-indulgent. I spent much of the day feeling itchy to go swimming, but tired enough to take a short nap.

It was the right call. I'm sore today from the Tui Na massage I had yesterday, but I just swam two and a half kilometers, and I feel 'good' tired again. Sore, but ready to go again tomorrow. It wasn't the first time I've had to make that call, it wasn't even the first time I made the right call, and it won't be the last. I'll be making those calls for years to come. I just hope that I get a little better at balancing efficient recovery with living a real life.

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