Active Recovery

How to use active recovery days

This was a somewhat difficult week for me.  I started off not feeling great Sunday and Monday after my cousins wedding.  I was hoping to get up and go for a run Monday morning, but when I was still feeling sick by Sunday night, I knew the best option for me was to sleep in and let my body recover a little more.  I decided to take the day off work, and spent most of the day resting.  I went for a couple of short walks, just to move my body and try to incorporate a little active recovery into my day.

The rest of the week was a deload week for me, so I wasn’t upset about taking an extra rest day. I kept all of my weekday runs to 4 miles, and added about half a mile to a full mile of walking afterwards. I noticed that I felt like I had a lot more energy during my CrossFit workouts, so I know my body needed a little step back. Even though I’ve had much lower mileage these last couple of months. It’s not easy for me to incorporate a cutback week when my overall activity level is so much lower then normal, but I know my body still needs dedicated time to rest and recovery.

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We had our 20 week anatomy scan on Tuesday, and it was the first time my husband was able to come w me and see the baby in person because of COVID restrictions.  The baby is measuring right on time, and everything looked good, which was a relief to hear.  I’ve shared that I have some anxiety after having two miscarriages before our son, and I was definitely nervous before the ultrasound.  It was so reassuring to hear that everything looks good and the baby is healthy.  We’re still not finding out if it’s a boy or girl, so any guesses are welcome!

Since I had to take the afternoon off work for our ultrasound, I decided to schedule a chiropractor appointment beforehand.  I found a Webster certified chiropractor, and she was amazing.  She spent a lot of time affirming that what I’m doing activity wise is still appropriate for where I am in pregnancy, and was able to help get my hips and lower back feeling pretty great.  I think I’ll be seeing her more consistently as I get further along.  She also gave me a couple of recommendations for pelvic floor specialists.  I never saw anyone after I had Enrique, and my return to working out and running was probably more difficult than it really needed to be.

I had planned on going for a run Friday morning, but was so exhausted when my alarm went off. Normally this is something I’d ignore, but having to balance growing a baby with wanting to stay active means listening to my body a little more consistently. So when I woke up feeling like I’d just laid down, I decided to take the morning off and just get my CrossFit workout in during lunch. And I did not hate the extra hour of sleep.

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I wrapped up the week in the absolute best way possible.  I FINALLY got back on some trails with one of my girlfriends, Lindsey, who has her own sports nutrition podcast, Female Athlete Nutrition.  I am soaking up every single minute I can get on the trails lately, so this was a treat!

This week was a little up and down with resting, active recovery, and trying to listen to my changing body.  Being a pregnant athlete is not easy, and there’s a lot of internal pushing and pulling happening.  As much as I love running and weight lifting, I also have to be realistic and accept the fact that more of my time is probably going to be spent in less intensive active recovery types of workouts.  I’m grateful for a healthy pregnancy, and even if I have a tendency to get a little antsy, I know

Active Recovery

While it’s important for athletes for to incorporate recovery into their regular schedule, recovery time doesn’t have to be solely spent on the couch (though no judgement if Netflix is calling after tougher weeks).  Active recovery can be used to allow an athlete to enjoy the benefits of rest, while still being able to enjoy movement.  Though it’s important to know the difference between an easy workout and active recovery.  An easy workout is any workout that is the same kind of movement you typically do (running, lifting, etc), but at a lower level of intensity.  Active recovery, on the other hand, should incorporate both lower intensity with alternative types of movement, to allow fatigued muscles to rest and get stronger.

Here’s a few guidelines to help make sure your active recovery doesn’t turn into another workout:

  • Your heart rate should generally be fairly low the entire time, about 50-70% of what you would expect during an easy workout
  • Active Recovery generally shouldn’t result in muscle soreness afterwards
  • Avoid repetitively lifting heavy objects (IE, moving furniture for your neighbor all day probably isn’t the best form of active recovery)
  • Keep active recovery sessions shorter than a long workout if you’re moving consistently

So what types of movement count as active recovery?  I’m glad you asked!

  • Walking or Hiking – One of my favorite ways to still be able to get outside, without taxing my body.  Make sure your pace is easy and steady, and don’t plan on tackling crazy levels of elevation, unless you want to count your hike as a workout
  • Swimming – If you’re not overly competitive, swimming can be a great low-impact way to move your entire body.
  • Yoga or Stretching – Mobility is especially important for runners and lifters, so spending a little extra time stretching on a rest day can be extremely beneficial.  If you’re looking for a little guidance, check out Yoga with Adriene for free tutorials.
  • Easy Cycling – I’m not talking a 60 minute Peloton workout, I mean an easy bike ride with your kid around the neighborhood kind of effort level.
  • Sports – Recreational things like pick up volleyball or kickball, not a three hour basketball tournament.

This Weeks Workouts

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Total Miles: 18 Miles
Total Workouts: 4
How the Run Felt
Tuesday and Wednesday’s runs felt somewhat hard, especially the first mile or so.  My calves felt tired and my legs felt heavy, and it reinforced how my body needed a recovery week.  By Thursday, my body actually felt like it wasn’t struggling with the uphills running in general.  My pace wasn’t exactly fast, but my effort level felt like what I know a recovery run should feel like.  I spent a lot of time walking this week, and the lower intensity was just what my tired legs needed.

Saturday was a lot of fun. I met up with my girlfriend at the Government Canyon State Park. I’ve been out there a handful of times since we moved to San Antonio, and while the trails aren’t technical, they are so pretty and fun to explore. When I was ultramarathon training, I saved the Government Canyon trails for deload weeks, since I really wanted to get in as much technical running to set me up for good races. Now that I’m pregnant, these trails are pretty perfect for me. There’s a few rocky sections, but there isn’t a ton of steep climbs or roots to watch out for, and there isn’t a ton of biking traffic to fight with. Saturday’s run was short, but lots of fun for me.

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How the WODs Felt
The workouts this week were longer timewise than they have been in the past.  I was really thankful that my mileage was lower, because these workouts were not easy.  There was a whole lot of endurance testing, and for the most part I feel like I was able to move consistently.  I’m thinking this might be one of the last weeks that I incorporate single unders, since I could feel some pressure in my pelvic floor towards the end of my workout on Friday.  I might start subbing the jump rope for reverse lunges since they’re effective for cardio and lower body weight bearing.

What I’ve Been Listening To
Counter Clock and Camp Hell are definitely on the forefront of what I’ve been listening to lately.  I also found myself catching up on some older episodes of UltraRunner Nation Podcast.  They recently did a really interesting couple of episodes around the IronMan purchase of UTMB and how races are looking different because of COVID.  I haven’t tuned in to URP in a while, and these episodes were definitely worth listening to.

What Went Well
Even though my mileage was reduced, I don’t feel like I was more sedentary.  I spent more time walking and practicing baseball with my son.  I was also able to get in a lot of cleaning since I wasn’t quite as tired in the evenings.

What Went Shitty
I’m a little annoyed that I’m still taking anti-nausea medications, but other than that I’m feeling pretty great.

Plans to Improve Next Week
My chiropractor gave me a couple of referrals for pelvic floor specialists, and I’m hoping I can get in to see one soon so I can start working on some pre-hab stuff.

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