Right before my pelvic injury, I was doing lots of cross training. My treadmill has a 2-mile Army Fitness Test where you run as fast as you can for 2 miles and then it gives you a score out of 100.
Being competitive by nature, and also having past experience with short distance races, I jumped at the chance to do an Army Fitness Test. It was all the motivation I needed.
I was also commuting into Toronto everyday for work and was pressed for time in the mornings. A quick, breathless two miles seemed like the perfect compromise on certain mornings when I was pressed for time.
I ran 3 Army Fitness tests before my injury (two in late December one in January)
Army test #1, Army test #2, Army test #3
When someone tells me to run 2 miles as fast as I can, I take it very seriously. I pushed myself hard. If only I had known how hard speed work like this can be on the body. Because I had never been injured before, and I was a beginner, I was a bit ignorant to it all.
On top of this intense training, I was also doing the 30-Day Shred and I had also just introduced yoga into my life. I was trying to do everything all at once!
For those of you who have done the 30-Day Shred, you know how hard the plyometrics moves can be on your body. There are tons of jumping squats and lunges, and I was frequently sore after each Shred.
I have also been documenting my daily training since about December 2008. This is what the week prior to my injury looked like:
Monday Jan. 5, 2009: 2 mile Army Fitness test + 1 mile easy run
Tuesday Jan. 6, 2009: Cross-training: Jillian Michaels 30-day shred, Level 2, 7.5 lb weights
Wednesday Jan. 7, 2009: 4 mile tempo run (1 m 6.0 mph, 2 m 7.0 mph, 1 m 6.0)
Thursday Jan. 8, 2009: OFF
Friday Jan. 9, 2009: 5 mile easy run (1 m 6.0 mph; 4 miles 6.5 mph) + 30-40 mins. yoga
Saturday Jan. 10, 2009: Cross-training: 30-Day Shred (Level 1) + 50 mins. yoga
Sunday Jan. 11, 2009: 8 mile long run, 6.0 mph, incline 2% (Pelvic area was sore after this run)
Monday Jan. 12, 2009: Cross-Training: 15 mins. Yoga (I think I further aggravated my pelvic area with strenuous yoga moves)
Tuesday Jan. 13, 2009: 3 mile tempo run (6.5-7.0 mph, incline 3%) [Note: I ran these 3 miles when my pelvic area was already sore! Bad, bad idea. Don’t do this!]
So as you can see, it is not too surprising that I got injured!
After Jan 13th’s run, I didn’t do one ounce of exercise- not a lick- for 2 months. That is how bad my injury was. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t cause my pelvic muscle pull to worsen or cause myself a stress fracture. Caitlin called me ‘A physiotherapist’s dream patient’, referring to how well I stayed off exercise during my injury.
In all honesty, my injury scared the crap out of me. I had never been injured before and always assumed that more equaled better. The more I run, the more fit I will be. The more I can bend in yoga, the better it will work. The more frequently I do the 30-Day Shred, the more toned I will be.
However, just like I am learning from blogging, quality trumps quantity any day. The more exercise I did, the more vulnerable my body actually became.
Last winter, all of the blogs were buzzing with 30-Day Shred and yoga. I think I got caught up in the excitement. I wanted to do the Shred, I wanted to do yoga, and I wanted to run a marathon. Instead of approaching all three with a sane and moderate game plan, I attacked each one with all that I could give. Why do 15 minutes of yoga when I got do 60 minutes? Why do the Shred once a week when I could do it 3-4? It is a dangerous trap to fall into.
My injury taught me many lessons. One of which was that exercise is best approached in a slow and steady manner. Had I not dived into the Shred and yoga with such intensity, I probably would still be doing it right now. But I stopped because it was overwhelming.
I have also learned to be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day (cliché, I know) and we shouldn’t expect our own bodies to transform over night. Doing 20 minutes of yoga each week over 1 year is much better than doing it for 3 hours a week for 1 month.
Whenever I hear that voice inside my head telling me I’m not doing enough, I tell it where to go. ;)
Some tips on avoiding over-training:
1) Redefine superwoman
- As women, we don’t need to do it all. Something will give, eventually. Whether that be an injury or physical/mental burn out. Being a superwoman does not mean you have to do everything. I’m super, you’re super, and we’re women. Capiche?
2) Be A Good Listener
- When your body cries out in pain, give it rest. No ifs or buts about it.
3) Be true to you
- Try not to fall into the comparison trap, online or offline. Do what works for you and you only. If you hate running, pilates, or zumba, don’t do it. And let go of that guilt while you are at it.
4) Tackle one thing at a time
- Since I have been training for my half marathon (on Sept 27th), I have realized that my training doesn’t leave me much time for other fitness goals. And that is ok! One thing at a time done well, is much better than several things done with an empty tank.
Do you ever get caught up in over-training and the mentality that you need to do more and more?
Has over-training ever resulted in an injury for you? What did you change as a result?
Do you feel pressure to ‘do it all’?
You can do anything, but not everything.
I really appreciate this post and am glad you re-posted it. All the points you make are totally spot-on – it’s hard to remember sometimes that *more is not necessarily more* (but, less isn’t more either… rather, just enough is more :D).
Your post made me think about two things specifically:
1) I’m pretty sure that incorporating (somewhat strenuous) yoga into my running schedule is what started the ball rolling on my run-prohibiting knee injury… which is pretty devastating. Isn’t yoga supposed to be rejuvenating and low-impact? I’ve always been super scared of cross-training because I didn’t want to injure myself, and I thought I was choosing a strength/stretch XT that was safe! Not cool, yoga, not cool.
2) I definitely prefer to concentrate on one fitness goal (aka race) at a time and finish an entire training plan before moving onto the next one. There’s no time to think about anything else while training, plus, if I feel too much pressure to train for tons of stuff, I’m more likely to overtrain. Also, spacing out my races by several months makes each of them more exciting and special.
Thanks again for the thought-provoking post!!!
Fantastic post! It is very, very true and well written.
Yes, I have been and currently am caught up with over-training. I am glad I realize that I am, I do atleast 1.5 hours at the gym 6 days a week. Usually I go for 2-2.5. Trust me I feel it, I’ve have to take a break from running due to two knee injuries and shin splints. Last summer I actually had stress fractured my sacrum – that was a nasty little injury. I know I NEED to cut back, but once I am done a workout I want to do it again becasue I’m not tired/sore.
I am new the the healthy living blogging community and this post was just what I needed! Recently I came down plantar fasciatis (spelling not so hot) and it has been killing me. I always told myself I wasn’t like other people, I would never over train. I thought of myself as not motivated enough to reach that point. Well, here I am. I am hurt, and I was over working myself. A lot of what the other women on here are writing are actually the feelings I was going through. I needed this post right now, thank you.
I have been reading your blog in silence for some time now, but I love your approach to health, life, and appreciate the effort you put in here. I can’t wait to keep reading and your recipes I’ve tried have all been DELISH!
I was so happy to see this post specifically. I have unfortunately torn my IT band (knee), tore the tendons through the arch of my foot, had a severe impingement in my shoulder, broke my tailbone and more. (You’d think I would learn!)
However I feel I am in the US Army, it is expected that we will do an hour and a half of physical training each and every morning (except Saturday and Sunday). I have definitely felt the pain of pushing to hard and then am angry with MYSELF for being “weak”. Thank you for giving me a wake up! Maybe I’ll run 6 miles in the morning, or maybe I’ll choose to do yoga. Hopefully I can at least listen to my body better.
Thanks again! Can’t wait to keep reading!