Some Reflections on the Recovery Process

CNO Financial Monumental Half Marathon + PhD Comprehensive Exams (Written Portion) + Athletics Ontario Cross-Country Championships + PhD Comprehensive Exams (Oral Dedsc_7207fence) = One.Tired.Lady!

I learned a lot about myself and recovery this last week. Going into last week’s #AOXC champs I thought my recovery had been okay following the half marathon. While I knew I had spent more time sitting at a desk than usual, I felt I had stretched the bounds of my brain with the thoughtful questions that were asked, I still fit in my therapy sessions and home stretching, and made sure that I was sleeping and nourishing well through the week.

dsc_7236I completely underestimated the effect the mental strain of the exam might have on my body. My physical recovery was slowed due to the mental expenditure. It was not until one day post-exam oral defence that I really felt like I had a goodnight’s sleep. Don’t get me wrong, I tried to eat well and sleep well through the exam; I made it a priority. Food was my friend, and I ate a lot of it, much more than I normally would during a training week. I also slept a lot; during the exam I lay in bed, my eyes were closed and I was sleeping, but I still feel like the quality was diminished. Sunday’s AOXC champs felt really, really (and unusually) hard from the moment the gun went off.

What I learned:

  1. Mental Fatigue will impact your training: Lanni Marchant reminded me this fall how important it is to put your feet up and recover after the big efforts. While I thought sitting and studying was restful, I completely undervalued the expenditure from what I was doing with my brain. Don’t underestimate the tax on your body from long, gruelling days at the office and/or managing your children, it takes a huge toll on your body. Make sure you adjust your training to not over do it in every aspect of your life.
  2. Communicate with your coach: I am so thankful for Ross. We communicated every morning to see how I was feeling. Not surprising there were a lot of adjustments made through the week. Regardless of the exam, we knew that the early week was open to adjustments post half marathon. Having and open and trusting relationship with your coach is so important; they know when to push you and when to coddle you.
  3. Plan around events: If I had to do this over again, I would not have planned to have the written portion between two events. Thankfully I never have to write an exam like this again! But I recommend you do the same; if you know you have something major going on with work or family don’t stick your goal race at the end of a busy week.
  4. Be Mindful of Your Wellness: To combat the mental and physical fatigue it is so important to take of yourself. Sleep. Nourish. Recover – get massages, manicures, and therapy (brain and body). Listen to your body, do what is says, what it really says. Adjust your training, extend those recovery runs when you need to, and don’t forget to smile! Keep emergency snacks at your desk, in your bag. Have a nap at your desk with your hands on your keyboard, facing the screen – no one needs to know! Just take care of yourself.

I passed my Comprehensive Exam, which really only means I get to continue on in the program! While it was a milestone (and a check mark), and I certainly think it moved my project forward, I still have a long road ahead with this PhD program!

dsc_7253#AOXC was also a success. I defended my title for my third year in a row. I love the 6k distance, I’m sad to see it go, but I understand why the change is coming. Thanks to the volunteers of the Niagara Olympic Club for hosting the event again.