Don’t Mistake Recovery for a Loss of Progress

Walt - Gym SelfieAfter a long day at work on Wednesday I was looking forward to a sweaty gym session. It was a day that started out just like any other. I walked through the door of Anytime Fitness, made my way to the changing room, and got dressed.

With my new pair of Asics Gel Cumulus 17 on my feet, I hopped onto the treadmill and got down to business. I set the workout for a ‘Rolling Hills’ session, dialed in the speed to 5.6mph, and the timer for 15 minutes.

As I ran along, I began to feel a dull ache in my left leg. It felt like a very mild case of shin splints and the last thing I wanted to do was hop off the treadmill. I pushed through and completed the workout without much trouble. I felt more tired than usual, as if the workout required more effort, but the pain was mild and I didn’t give it much thought.

From the treadmill I made my way over to the rack to do my Starting Strength Workout. I had an awesome day in that regard, hitting all of my target weights, and the dull ache in my leg subsided. Being the type of person that loves to stick to a routine, I headed back to the treadmill to wrap up my gym session.

This time around I set the treadmill up for interval training for a period of 30 minutes. My slow speed was set to 4.7mph and my fast speed was set to 6.3mph. For two minutes I ran at my slow speed then followed it up with one minute of my fast speed. I repeated the process until my 30 minute workout was complete.

As I ran along, the pain returned in my leg. Only this time I didn’t recognize it. It felt like a repetitive sting on the skin. With each stride there was a tiny dash of pain. My shoe felt a little loose and I immediately thought that the plastic tip of my shoe lace was swinging up and smacking me in the leg with each step.

It was an annoying little pain but stopping the treadmill to tighten my shoe seemed like too much trouble. In my mind I was a tough guy and could handle a little sting for a few more minutes. How bad could it get?

I was right in one regard, it was just a little sting and making it to the end of the workout wasn’t overly difficult. I was tired and it felt like the workout took more out of me than usual but the treadmill came to a stop and I was finished for the day.

When I stepped off the treadmill the little sting turned into a hearty ache. Walking wasn’t difficult but each time my foot impacted the floor I was reminded that something wasn’t right. When I got back home I took it easy on my leg and rested up.

The following day (Thursday – the day that I’m writing this blog post) the pain was still present. On a scale of 1 to 10 it was probably a 2. Not enough to keep me off my feet but bad enough that I couldn’t forget about it.

This is where my dilemma comes in. It is now Thursday night and it is about time for my evening run. On non-strength training days I like to go for a slow and steady run on the treadmill while I catch up on missed televisions shows.

At this very moment I should be on the treadmill, running 5.2mph, watching Extreme Weight Loss (yes, it is a guilty pleasure of mine). I know that I could tough it out and complete the run, however, I don’t want to make the problem worse and miss my Starting Strength session tomorrow (I’m trying for a 225 pound squat and if completed will mean reaching my first milestone).

I posted a very condensed version of this story on MyFitnessPal and one of my friends gave me some very simple advice. It was the type of advice that triggers ones of those incredible eureka moments.

Don’t Mistake Recovery for a Loss of Progress

bhokanson2015 hit the nail on the head and said the exact thing that I needed to hear. Missing a workout is difficult for me to accept and it makes me feel as though I’m losing progress. As if in one single day all of my accomplishments will come crashing down on me and everything that I’ve worked so hard for will magically come undone.

Missing the workout tonight will mean losing out on those exercise calories. It will mean not hitting 1,500 steps on my Fitbit. It will mean falling behind in the highly competitive Workweek Hustle Challenge. But, you know what? So what?

In the grand scheme of things, the bigger payoff is not pushing it tonight and being able to hit my strength training goals tomorrow. With some rest over the weekend I’ll probably be back to normal on Monday. In exchange for one day of needed rest I stand to gain a milestone and the ability to get back to the grind next week. Push it tonight and I’m likely to be begrudgingly spending the next several days missing workouts and trying to recover.

Sometimes it is difficult to accept but bhokanson2015 is right. I can’t mistake recovery for a loss of progress.

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