Friday, October 11, 2013

Recovering from Zombiedom

AMC’s hit show The Walking Dead is about a few humans trying to survive in a world afflicted with a Zombie apocalypse.  We don’t know what caused the majority of humans to turn into brain dead, flesh eating lumbering zombies, but we do know that the few human survivors are also infected. Ok let’s face it; we too all suffer from an affliction, being human.
Much like the zombies on The Walking Dead, our busy lives and aggressive exercise programs can leave us walking around in a zombie state, barely able to put one foot in front of the other while trying to maintain some semblance of functionality.  As more and more activities, projects and people demand our time, we are forced to make decisions to keep us from slipping into a state of

“Zombiedom!”  Unfortunately, one focus that many let slide is their exercise program. 

For endurance athletes in particular, the grueling schedule of training can be enough to slip us into a zombie like state let alone the rigors of everyday life.  There are only so many hours in a day and days in a week and sometimes competing priorities call for tough choices.  A 50+ hour work week, family and other commitments many times interrupt training programs.
While it is never fun and frankly can be stressful to put exercise and training on the back burner, the important part is what you do to get back on track. Missing a few workouts won’t be the end of the world, but not getting back to your exercise routine would be.  Look at the bright side, resuming exercise will certainly be easier than having to fight your way through a Zombie infested world. It’s all about perspective! Mary Baum on recommends some strategies on what to do when life interrupts your workouts.
Missing one workout, be it a swim, bike, run or Zumba class won’t hurt you. It could be the rest your body needs to push harder the next day. Just don’t get used to it. Joe Friel, in his book Your Best Triathlon, advises against trying to make up the missed workouts by cramming more workouts in over the next few days. This can create the potential for breakdown.
Missing three workouts can take a toll depending on the reason. You have to identify why you missed your workouts. Did work or travel interrupt? Were you sick or where you simply lazy?  The underlying reason will play a major role in your plans to get back on track.
 "Too many people try to work through illness during their training thinking they will lose fitness," says Jeffrey Kline, head coach at PRSFit. "If the base is there and you get sick, be smart take a few days to rest, hydrate, eat well and recover. Your body is telling you something, pay attention!" If you've been sick, mark the days off on your calendar as missed, and pick up from there. If you just missed them, set a goal to regain focus and get back on track.  You'll come back stronger than if you tried to make up the workout.
Missing a week of exercise is not ideal but is not the end of the world but don’t panic.  Your body is prepared for the changes or lapses training. You'll likely start losing some fitness and finesse (such as a feel for the water in the pool), but you will recover fitness and form rather quickly. In fact a week off after a heavy month of training can serve as recovery. Returning to exercise after a week can be refreshing and add back an element of fun to your training.
Missing workouts will happen and won’t kill you but don’t be a Zombie forever. Have a plan to get back on track and don’t stress over the process.
Here is to being fit for a lifetime!

Chris is a Certified Personal Trainer, exercise and endurance enthusiast.  He competes yearly in numerous running races, marathons, ultra marathons, triathlons and other endurance events.