Picture this: you’re a world-class alpine skier. You’ve been diligently following your training plan with a blend of strength, cardio, plyometrics, and Pilates. You eat right. You feel amazing and unstoppable as you fly down the mountain!
Now imagine that as you fly down the mountain you have to also complete certain tasks. As you go whizzing by the trees you must reach up and grab the clean laundry hanging from the branches and stuff it into your knapsack. Grab -whiz! – stuff-and-concentrate! But you’ve been training hard, so this little extra diversion doesn’t interrupt your focus, it only fine-tunes it. Your vision becomes narrower as you concentrate on the terrain and the laundry.
And now as the trees open up a little you can see that the terrain becomes a mogul field. No problem for you! You have trained hard just for these mounds of snow, using your Pilates abs to keep your pelvis lifted as your legs glide up and down beneath you. You are beautiful to watch! You are trailing a sled that is tied to your waist. One more thing to tickle at your awareness! You are dragging the sled so that you can pick up the cans of food that are all over the mogul field. There you go: stoop – grab! – toss a can into your sled, then reach! – grab – stuff laundry into your knapsack. Stay balanced! Stay focused! Keep it all together and watch that edge!
Isn’t that like life? And that’s probably how many of us go through our days. Our physical training helps us our hone mental state and prowess, in and out of the gym. We feel great when all of our training comes together and helps us get through tough spots physically and mentally, but we have to acknowledge that even the best training can’t help us when we “catch an edge” and end up in a proverbial snowbank. What do we do then?
If it’s an injury that’s got you sidelined, listen to your doctor and physical therapist. Go slowly! Nothing is worse than having to take three steps backward because you became too impatient for your recovery. In addition to specific exercises your P.T. may give you, work on your internal visualization. Picture yourself from the inside out successfully using your injured part, and doing the activities you love to do. Studies with athletes have shown that this type of visualization can actually speed your recovery.
If you’re feeling unmotivated due to a cold, and there’s no fever, power through. In most cases a gentler and/or shorter cardio routine will actually help open up your sinuses, at least temporarily. Scale back a little on your strength training, too, but don’t use a cold as carte blanche to skip the gym. However, Dr. Edward Laskowski of the Mayo Clinic notes that if you aren’t feeling so hot “below the neck,” with symptoms of extreme chest congestion, hacking cough, or an upset stomach, you should hang up those ski poles and consider giving yourself a rest day. A day or two down will not affect your performance.
If that snowbank that you’ve plowed into is actually a fever, then give yourself an official time-out. Your core temperature is already up! You don’t want to add in activities to raise it more. Your fever is your indication that your body is already hard at work fighting whatever needs fighting. Keep up your movement visualization, and fuel yourself as healthily as possible. Use the discipline you’ve been building to make yourself lay low and let your body recover.
One of the hardest places to be for someone who is fighting hard to be healthy is in bed. For those who’ve changed their shape and ability through exercise, downtime is downright scary! Fight off the demons of your old life. A few days in bed is not going to turn you back into that old mound of mush. Remind yourself that you know what steps to take once your body is strong enough, and take the time to picture yourself doing those very steps until that time comes. Remember? You’re world class. You have the power! Use the self-will you’ve been developing in training for your recovery, too. A little lull combined with a self-care focus will get you flying down the slopes again in no time. 🙂
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photo credit: © Duncan / http://www.fotosearch.com