November 20, 2013

The Numbers Don’t Lie

I haven’t been getting enough sleep lately, at all. Ever since the NYC Marathon, it’s been rare for me to get more than 7 hours a night – and I’m usually getting a lot less than that. Some of that is because of insomnia (both the too-worried-about-things and inexplicable varieties), but some of it is also because I’ve been pushing myself harder than I probably should – like running another marathon and a 60K the last two weekends. (Yes, still working on race reports for those – my writing can’t keep up with my running lately.)

Sleepbot 2013-11-20

Saturday night, after running 38.5 miles in the 60K (no, my math doesn’t suck; I just suck at running tangents), I took the night off and was curled up in bed watching Grey’s Anatomy when I happened to glance down at my feet. They were kind of sore from the race (shocker), but since that’s usually par for the course when I do a marathon and this was another 50% further, I wasn’t really concerned. What did worry me, though, was the fact that my feet were covered in red spots, kind of like chicken pox but without being raised bumps. I decided to visit Dr. Google for self-diagnosis (lesson learned: do not conduct an image search for “red spots on feet” while you are eating), and came back with either Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever or an exercise allergy. Hmmm. Fortunately, my marathon buddy Becca assured me that she’d had something similar happen once after a marathon, with no ill effects, and it hadn’t returned since. Since the spots didn’t hurt or itch, I decided that was good enough for me – and ignored them.

The next morning, I went to a Core Fusion barre class like nothing was wrong (I was surprisingly less sore from the 60K than from the NYC Marathon, which took me a strangely long time to recover from), and then headed out to New Jersey that afternoon to tailgate and watch the Giants football game with my brother and his friends. With all the football festivities, I didn’t really think much more about my feet till late that night, when I finally remembered to look at them again and saw that they were now a normal solid skin color. Sweet.

MetLife Stadium, Giants vs Steelers
With an exciting game like this, it was easy to forget about silly things like my “diseased” feet. And then they healed! Beer sure does kill germs effectively.

But the next sign that something was wrong came on Monday morning. Before flying out to Dallas, I hopped on the bathroom scale to weigh myself, and discovered that my weight was dramatically up to a number that I’ve only seen once before in my life. I know that weight can fluctuate up and down, but this was more than usual – and I immediately thought to all the delicious food I had eaten the week before at training. It was all so amazing that I couldn’t help eating a lot more than usual! But had I really gained that much weight in just a week? I mostly put it aside, but also noted that most of my race pics from Saturday looked pretty bad. (Not that I ever look great in race pics, but I swear that the ones people tagged me in made me look 50 pounds heavier than usual.) Evidently it was time for me to get back to being more careful about what I eat, and making sure I kept up with my workouts instead of skipping them whenever something else got in the way.

NYRR 60K Blurred
Hmm, if I add some major blur, it’s slightly more passable.

This morning, though, I went to a Flywheel class – and it quickly became clear that something was really up. Thanks to the numbers on the bike’s mini computer, I could see that I wasn’t performing anywhere near my usual level. Despite some awesome motivation from instructor Cristin, I struggled throughout the class and finished about 30 points lower than my usual. Of all those three numbers (hours of sleep debt, weight on the scale, and now Flywheel score), it was that last one that finally served as a wakeup call to me. I’m getting burnt out! It’s a little crazy to me that something like red spotted feet didn’t tip me off sooner, but seeing that Flywheel number in black and white (okay, green and black since it’s an electronic screen) drove home for me that my body needs a break!

Fortunately, tomorrow night I’m off to Peru for a quick vacation getaway (hip hip hooray for dirt cheap airfares that allow me to take weekend trips like this!). While I have a lot of cool activities planned, I’m also hoping to get some solid time to relax and recharge, and I’m bringing a ton of books with me to entice me to stay in my hotel and do nothing at least some of the time. I don’t have another marathon planned until early December, and in the meantime, I think I also need to focus on listening to my body better. It shouldn’t take a Flywheel score to alert me to the fact that I’m getting run down – although I’m grateful that I had at least that measure to remind me to trust my body instead of ignoring it.

What signs do you use to know when you’re going too hard?


4 thoughts on “The Numbers Don’t Lie”

  1. I have a hard time knowing when I’m run down, too. I’m working on knowing it, too, but it’s usually tipped off for me by an utter feeling of exhaustion. I wish I didn’t let it get to that level, though.

    Have fun in Peru! Sounds amazing.

  2. I just took a 3 hour nap – I haven’t slept much either and cannot wait for Thanksgiving break (next week) to get some rest also. Vacation actually always helps me lose a few pounds. Strange but it must be the relaxation. Have fun!

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