Taking time off from exercising is MUCH, MUCH harder for me than exercising. I need to exercise at least 5 days a week to feel healthy and happy. I've been exercising 4-5 days a week regularly for 20+ years. My ultimate goal is the Ironman in 2011, so now is the time to take it easy.
So, I only exercised 3 times over the the first 2 weeks of my running and biking hiatus, and by the end of that second week, all of the bad symptoms that I experienced before I became a runner came back. I felt tired and fatigued. My body felt inflammatory. My right side felt week, my right eye twitching came back, and I felt "off my game". My weight went up to 201 pounds from my marathon training weight of 193-195. I lost a belt buckle loop. Say goodbye to my marathon fitness level. I'll have to get over the hump again.
I knew I couldn't run or bike yet, so I decided to turn up my swimming, working out in the pool 6 of the next 8 days, swimming at least 45 minutes and sometimes as long as 64 minutes (1.5 miles in this case). I have NEVER been a swimmer. I wasn't on any swim team growing up (although I was a lifeguard, as I could pass the sprint swim tests). Prior to becoming an triathlete in July 2010, I never even worked out in a pool (and despite being in marathon shape I could only swim 8 lengths because my form was so inefficient). My technique is sub-par, and that's putting it mildly. I went swimming with my friend MH, a great athlete, a triathlete, and high school swimmer, and he had me do a kick board drill, extending my arms out holding onto the kick board while kicking my legs. I'm not joking when I say that I was barely moving forward at all. In fact, for 30 seconds I don't think I moved forward at all. No kidding. He was on the side of the pool and I must say that I was embarrassed. No question that I have a weakness in my kick. Well, enough about my horrible swimming skills and form. Swimming 6 of 8 days was a serious accomplishment for me, as my motivation to go swimming is very low because I'm not a good swimmer (although I do listen to music when I swim which definitely helps and is relaxing). Over these 6 workouts, I improved my mile time in the swim to a best of 38 minutes and felt like I was becoming a little faster (typically it takes me 42-44 minutes to swim a mile in a pool and my half mile swim splits for the 2 triathlons that I did last year were both 22 minutes (on pace for a 44 minute mile). I'm slow, although I know that I could swim faster than a 38 minute mile, but then I would be totally dead and wouldn't have any energy left for the bike or the run! For the first time in my life, I did a swim speed workout, consisting of 12x100 yards, with a 20 second break in between each 100 yard workout. I definitely was faster than normal in each 100 and am feeling myself becoming a stronger swimmer. For me, 60 minutes seems to be the right amount of time for me to feel like I got a good workout in.
So how long did I take off from running and biking. How did I do against my goals?
Running - Took 5 weeks off (first run was on 11/26/10). No pain in the shin whatsoever during the run, but still some twinging in the shin when not running. Since then, I've only been running 2 days a week, as my shin continues to twinge a little bit after my runs (but never during).
Biking - took about 4 weeks off.
Also did acupuncture twice, which definitely helped heal my shin quicker. Plus, given my Crohn's, I get abnormal swelling around the shin splint area. I find that ice helps to reduce that swelling greatly, so I have been heavily icing my leg (Anastasia, my acupuncturist, wouldn't be happy with my icing!)
I'm not training for anything right now, just trying to stay fit and healthy. I have decided to start my Ironman Training on 2/1/11, following at 30 week training program in Don Fink's book called "Be Iron Fit" (I'll follow his intermediate program). I'd like to go into my Ironman training with a solid base of fitness. I plan on following a strict heart rate zone Ironman training plan and will base my workouts on the duration of my workouts, not on distance. I plan on doing a weekly writeup of my Ironman training during my training. I also signed up for the Rev 3 Half Ironman on 6/5/11, which I am excited about. This was the site of my first triathlon, a sprint, and is one of the hilliest tris in the world (which I need because Ironman Canada is extremely hilly). Ironman Canada is on 8/28/11.
Here is a summary of my workouts since the Chicago Marathon:
10/17/10 - 2 workouts (2 runs - 4.4 and 5 miles)
10/24/10 - 1 workout (1 run, 5 miles) - right shin sore
10/31/10 - 4 workouts (4 rides on my trainer) - right shin sore after my rides, never during
11/7/10 - 1 workout (swim, 36 minutes) - very careful not to push off the wall hard to keep shin healthy
11/14/10 - 2 workouts (2 swims, 41 and 49 minutes). Weight 201. Lost a belt buckle loop.
11/21/10 - 5 workouts (5 swims)
11/28/10 - 7 workouts (3 runs, 2 rides on my trainer, 2 swims) - first run and first ride in weeks
12/5/10 - 5 workouts (2 runs, 2 swims, 1 spin class)
12/12/10 - 5 workouts (2 runs, 2 spins, 1 swim)
12/19/10 - 5 workouts (2 runs, 3 rides (2 on trainer, one on spin bike at the gym). Weight 198-199. I've gained my belt buckle loop back!
All of my runs above were done on the bridal path, not pavement
I took a few pictures while running in Central Park after my 5 weeks off. It was a bummer to miss the fall season and to not be able to run in the Park before the NYC marathon, which is always fun.
From December 14, 2010