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What a recent running fail is teaching me about self-care

How a recent illness taught this runner about proper self care

When it comes to running and training, there are a lot of moving parts. One of the greatest challenges is to keep those pieces moving in harmony together. 

Last week, I wrote about how a lack of sleep contributed to me getting quite sick. As I pointed out, in order for me to stay healthy and injury-free I have to maintain an optimal weight and make sure I’m recovering well. That means at least eight hours of sleep.

This past week, I’ve continued to recover from being sick, and have been able to run more consistently after a couple of weeks of touch-and-go training. As I come out of this illness I’m still taking away some important lessons about building higher mileage. Whether you’re increasing your mileage or your intensity, I think I have some applicable takeaways.

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It’s remarkable how quickly a slip in self-care can turn your training upside-down. For me, proper fueling is a big one. If I don’t stay on top of it, I can drop to a weight that leaves me susceptible to illness and injury. Everyone has different pieces of the big picture that they need to pay particular attention to. Regardless of what that is, there are some universal ways for us all to stay on top of these things.

Awareness, I believe, comes first. It can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of working towards a goal. Lose awareness though and these things can get away quite quickly. This round of illness is reminding me to stay diligent and focused on what makes me vulnerable. For example, as someone with ADHD, I have a tendency to always be on the go. If I don’t work to quell my restlessness, I end up not giving my body the rest it needs to recover. It also means I burn a ton of fuel, so I have to be extra diligent in getting in the necessary amount of food.

In addition to awareness, it’s vital to always have a plan. For example, I know that my tendency to be on the go is best managed by writing. That’s what keeps my mind busy, and my legs still. My most successful training weeks typically include consistent writing and that requires some planning. I like to keep a routine and know what I’m tackling each day so there’s scheduled down time.

I’m learning that these strategies work for me. 

These are the strategies I’m learning work for me, but it’s taken time to get here, and I suspect I’ll always have more to learn. There’s a great deal of complexity within the sport of running, but one of the aspects I enjoy most about it, is the simplicity on the other side of that complexity.