Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Big Importance of the Little Things

            When we have crazy, busy lives (when is that not the case?!), the tendency is to focus on just getting in the swim, bike, and run training.  Unfortunately, that means we often sideline some really important things.  I am just as guilty as the rest of this shortcoming.  I am always running on a tight schedule in order to fit everything into mine and Baya’s schedule.  Working at the YMCA has the awesome perk of free drop-in childcare for those with family memberships.  They are only open certain hours, however, and there is a time limit of 2 hours when just working out as well.  We go in every weekday morning and take advantage of it as much as we can.  They are only open 8-11:30am.  If I have a lifeguard shift, it is typically from 9-11am, which means I have from 8-9, and 11-11:30 to squeeze in as much as I can for my training (usually a swim beforehand and a short run after).  If I am working in the Wellness Center though, I work 8-11am, and then have only a half hour to run.  It’s definitely all about time management.
            There are some occasions when I have a little “spare” time here and there, where I take the time for some of the big, little things.  They have foam rollers, and my goodness, do I LOVE foam rollers.  We also have one at home, which I’ll sometimes use right away after getting home if there’s time, but definitely at least after a weekend run or ride.  I think the foam roller really does wonders for me.  Though if I have to choose between running another half mile or rolling, running still typically wins, especially when I’m already really cramped on time.  Another one of those things would be stretching, and doing core work. 
            I am also a very strong believer in weight training.  Early on in my pregnancy I had stuck with it, but after the bike accident I wasn’t able to do as much because of my sprained shoulder, and then I never fully got back into it again until this last fall.  I’ve only been lifting twice per week, but even with that, I still feel that it makes me a much better athlete, and hopefully it will also help with injury prevention as well.  As I’ve been increasing my training load though, it’s become tougher to fit it in every week.  We recently got our own weight set out of storage, and I’m looking forward to having the option of lifting more at home again.  The more flexibility I have with getting stuff done, the better.
            Other important things?  Let’s talk about recovery.  In order to keep hammering out workout after workout (and multiple times a day), it’s important to recover as much as possible between sessions. There are things we can do to aid in recovery.  I already mentioned foam rolling and stretching, which aid in recovery.  Sleep is critical as well.  Our body is able to do marvelous repair work while we sleep, and it prepares us for the next day as well.  The more that the training load increases, the more sleep our body requires.  Nutrition also plays a vital role in recovery.  It is important to eat within 30 minutes of completing each workout.  It should be a combination of carbs and protein (a ratio of 3-4 parts carbs to 1 part protein).  You also need to replace the fluids that you lost.  What’s the easiest way to do all this?  Chocolate milk.  It does all of the above, and then some, giving you electrolytes (sodium, potassium, and magnesium), which were lost through sweat.  It also gives you calcium, Vitamin D, and B Vitamins, which simply makes it a healthy choice as well.
            Finally, it’s also extremely beneficial to hydrate with water throughout the day, not just during or after a workout.  So here’s to keeping up with the oh-so-important little things, which will make you a healthier, stronger, and better athlete.  Sometimes, it’s all in the details.

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