After 11 consecutive days of exercise and something like 6250m in the pool, 17 miles running and around 3 hours of 5-a-side football, I finally gave my body a break and had the day off yesterday. I didn't set out to do that much in a row, it's just kind of the way that things worked out. I actually find it really difficult to do nothing, but I was absolutely worn out after my swim on Sunday night, and I knew I really needed to force myself to rest for at least a day. As it turned out, it was easy to take the day off, as I was at work until well past 7pm, then on the phone to some friends organising a birthday party in March and then straight out to the pub quiz until gone 11pm, so I hardly had time to catch my breath, never mind worry about whether or not I could have gone out for a quick run.
I wasn't sure how much room I had in my diary today, so I loaded my car with both my swimming bag and my running gear. An appointment tonight at the osteopath ruled out the former, so I squeezed in a quick 4 mile run by the river in my lunch hour. It was really, really hard work. My legs were heavy and I could really feel the WTs in my feet, thighs, shoulders and hands. The weather was almost spring-like, and I dragged myself around okay, but it certainly wasn't much fun. Perhaps my body is still telling me that I need to rest, but there's a part of my brain that is whispering insistently to me that if I don't keep going, then I'm simply not going to be able to get started again. One day off and I'm already struggling to get back into the swing of things. One week off and I might find myself without the energy to go running at all.
I'm sure that sounds like nonsense, and I'm fairly sure it is mostly nonsense... but there is a grain of truth: I have been told that I need to regularly exercise the muscles in my upper body to prevent them wasting. The WTs have caused a weakness in my upper body across my shoulders and down my arms; a weakness that means I can't do as much with them and so they don't get as much exercise as they might, and if I'm not careful, then they will wither away. Once they have withered away, that same weakness will make it almost impossible to get back to they physical capability I had before. Luckily for me, my osteopath noticed the changes in my physique and presented me with some specific strengthening exercises that I religiously carry out three times a week in addition to upping the amount of swimming that I was doing. Those two activities, the swimming and the upper body exercises, have helped to arrest - if not reverse - the decline in the muscle power in my upper body.
The rest of the exercise that I do, the running and the football and so on, are mostly cardio-vascular or work the muscles in my legs. Although the WTs have affected the sensation in my legs and the way I 'feel' some of my muscles, they don't appear to have impacted upon my lower body strength. Not yet, anyway. I instinctively feel as though my overall physical capability has declined since my diagnosis in 2005, but that may be as much due to my advancing age as it is to anything else. I know it's not entirely logical to equate a day's rest with a sliding feeling of declining physical prowess, but I definitely have to fight the urge to feel that once I stop, I will stop for good. It drives me to keep exercising even though I know that sometimes a rest is the best thing for me.
I might try and have another rest day tomorrow.
Or I might try and squeeze in a quick swim before the Leftlion quiz.
Oh, who am I trying to fool? The swimming kit is already in my car....