Foreced Rest is every athlete’s nightmare. Find out how to deal with forced rest without going crazy!
Whether forced or by choice, the concept of rest can be a hard one for many runners and active people. For many of us, activity is as much a part of our days as eating and breathing; when activity is taken away from us, it can be like going cold turkey off your favorite food. Regardless of where or not we know it is good for us, forced rest can be tough pill to swallow. So, what are some strategies for dealing with forced rest without going crazy!
Dealing with Forced Rest Without Going Crazy
Last week, my post covered how, at the time, I was maintaining my fitness during injury. After my MRI last Thursday, the resulting diagnosis (sacral stress fracture), and orders of offloading aka complete rest from weight bearing or spine-engaging activity, let’s just say that my days look a bit different! How am I navigating them?
Accept the Circumstances
After I cried and got all my emotions out, I woke up the next day and just accepted the circumstances. That isn’t to say that I rolled over and died; to accept your circumstances means that rather than needlessly fighting elements beyond your control, you instead put that energy towards other, more productive, pursuits. Such as when you are in taper and you are thinking about all the things that you coulda/woulda/shoulda done, or if the weather is going to be good or suck for race day, the most effective way to approach life is to focus on that which you can control. What’s done is done; you can only move forward from where you are.
Think About The Importance of Rest in Terms of Macrocycles
Having trouble with accepting the circumstances because you are still deep into training brain? Use that training mentality to re-conceptualize this forced rest period. We all know that rest is a necessary part of any training plan. Well, transfer that thinking from the smaller (micro) to larger (macro) scale. You take rest days during microcycles, so think of your forced rest as that microcycle rest day elevated to a macrocycle-level. The most successful athletes are those who accept that rest is as important as work.
Approach Your Rest Like You Would Your Training
When I was forced to change my plans and now, forced to rest, I was still very happy with my training and even thinking about ramping it up a bit (or I would be, by now). Obviously, those plans have necessarily changed. But I still have this training mindset, and that is not easily turned off. Consequently, I have decided to approach my rest as an extension of my training. I am giving it purpose, I am fueling for recovery (something that I will delve into further in the near future), and I am getting the same amount of sleep. When you are injured, you have to remember that you body is still very much in work and repair mode, so you must continue to take care of it if you want to recover properly and as quickly as possible!
Don’t Let Go of Your Routine Entirely
My morning routine of waking up, doing blog work during breakfast, working out then going to work is an ingrained part of my week. This sequence sets me up for my day, takes advantage of my time, and, let’s face it, fills the hours that I would be awake regardless because I tend to wake up early! Instead of lazing in bed and only finding myself more groggy, I am keeping my routine (maybe hitting the snooze, if need be). I may not be able to do much down in the gym, but getting up and moving around, even if it is on my crutches, still helps me to get my brain and body working.
As Always, Focus on What You CAN Do
I am not to do exercise that will twist or place impact on my sacrum (duh). Well, that means no cardio (except for a hand bike, which I don’t have), very little core work, and I have to be very careful with dumbbells, because I can’t brace as I pick them up. My solution? Use machines. I tend to focus on dumbbells during my own strength training. This time around, unless I have someone to assist, I am using the machines, which do the bracing and “lifting” for me but also can help me engage my core in certain circumstances (such as assisted pull up/dips/ and late pull downs).
Alternatively, you may not be able to be incredibly physically active, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t be mentally super engaged! I’ve been working on my coaching business and a few other projects. I am not too concerned with cleaning because of my injuries, but if you are able, clean away 😀 I can’t clean, so I am
cluttering returning emails.
Know that You are Not Alone
Your non-running or lifting friends may not understand, but I guarantee you that if you put your feelings out there, on social media, to your running buddies, or elsewhere, you will find someone who can commiserate with your plight.
Now, I realize that these mental strategies are not necessary for all. Sometimes, we may find that we were just waiting for an excuse to take a break; maybe we simple didn’t know it yet. I am oddly at peace with my condition. I don’t really have another option for proceeding if I want to have any chance of going to Boston, or, at the very least, being off crutches by the time that we go on our trips at the end of the month. But that doesn’t mean I’m not get the itch to go down and do “naughty” things, like get on the bike. But just like resisting loaded nachos before a long run, I am resisting my urges. Well, most of them. Sometimes, you need ice cream and wine for dinner.