This Sunday marked two weeks of my “Prehab Not Rehab” training segment. The idea is that you proactively take time off or reduce your workout load in order to properly rest and recover.
Contrast this with the reactive way most runners operate. We ignore our niggles and fatique, keep exercising at a high level, and then we have no choice but to take time off, go physical therapy, have surgery or all of the above. Meb Keflezighi made “Prehab Not Rehab” famous. Practicing restraint is one reason why he has enjoyed a decades-long running career.
After the St George Marathon, where I peaked at an 80+-mile week, I was dealing with extreme fatigue – the kind that does now go away, even after copious cat naps and regularly sleeping for several more hours than usual. Plus, my gastrocs were flaring up and I was beginning to feel a twinge in my right iliosacral joint, which I injured after going back to running too quickly after the 2015 New York City Marathon. I did not want to go to Physical Therapy Land again or end up having to take 6 forced weeks off – so I decided to log in fewer miles and include more rest and cross-training. It was important for me to recover from a hard year of training and to strengthen muscle groups that I normally don’t work out
Here is what I did over the past 2 weeks:
Week of November 20 (Thanksgiving Week)
- Monday 11/20: 3.06 miles, 7:58 average pace- IS joint ached; 1.25 hour yoga class
- Tuesday 11/21: 35 minutes on the elliptical at the gym; 25 minutes on the spinning bike; 17 minutes of weight and core work
- Wednesday 11/22: 4.16 miles, 8:08 average pace. IS joint hurt a bit.
- Thursday 11/23 (Thanksgiving): Morning run, 3.2 miles,8:27 average pace – IS joint was still feeling creaky.
- Friday 11/24: Off/rest day
- Morning recovery run: 3.4 miles, 8:31 average pace
- Saturday 11/25: 5 minutes of rowing, 30 mins on elliptical; 20 minutes on the spinning bike; 10 mins on the regular gym bike (I had to keep changing machines to avoid boredom!); 23 minutes of strength and core work
- Sunday 11/26: Trail run- 6 miles at 8:25 pace. I felt sore after the previous day’s XT and my IS joint did not ache at all. Did some steep technical trails and just enjoyed being out in nature.
5.01 hours of exercise total, 16.4 miles
Week of November 27
- Monday 11/27: 1.25 hour yoga class; 30-minutes of cycling on the exercise bike at the gym; 30 minutes on the elliptical
- Tuesday 11/28: 3.25 mile run, 8:02 average pace
- Wednesday 11/29: 45-minute spinning class; 15 minutes on the elliptical; 10 minutes of weight and core
- Thursday 11/30: Morning Fartlek run, 5.38 miles, 7:51 average pace- So much fun to do some unstructured speed work! I got up to 5:55 for one short segment and it felt like I was flying. Since I have not been able to hit faster track paces since the marathon, this run was a big confidence booster, even if the speed segments were short. Evening cooldown run: My team had a holiday gathering at Philly Runner store, where we picked up some new tea, gear, so I ran over with my friend/teammate Chrissie. I also ran home – 2.2 miles total at just under 10:00 pace.
- Friday 12/1: Morning recovery run: 3.4 miles, 8:31 average pace
- Saturday 12/2: Off/rest day
- Sunday 12/3: Longish run- 8.5 miles at 8:12 pace with my teammate/friend Aliah. Another new teammate, Mike H, joined us for the first 5 miles. Technically, this was not a “long run,” but it was the longest run I did in several weeks, and it was great to have company. I had planned on taking this slower but it’s hard when you are running with athletes who are two decades younger. Still, I felt amazingly strong. Nothing like running with the young-uns to keep you young!
6:34 hours of exercise total, 22.7 miles
Cross-training is a mixed bag for me. Although I always enjoy yoga classes and like most spinning classes, I am NOT a huge fan of machines, other than the treadmill. Even when I max out the levels on machines, I have a very hard time getting my heart rate up to the low aerobic zone. Plus, they are boring to me – although they do give me the opportunity to catch up on some guilty-pleasure TV. But machines are definitely necessary and have made me rethink how I will plan out my training over the next few months. The first day after doing the elliptical, for example, my arms were so sore – a sure sign that they needed some work.
So far, the Prehab Not Rehab approach seems to be working, fingers crossed. My fatigue has abated. I no longer feel the need for 2 naps a day, and I’m back to my zippy, yapping chihuahua energy level. My gastocs feel great and I am now only experiencing a subtle shadow of a twinge in my IS joint – a definite improvement over the past few weeks.
Although I feel anxious to get back to running more mileage and base rebuilding, I am actually going make like Meb – hold back and take one more “Prehab Not Rehab” week – a sign that maybe I am finally learning my lesson.
Question: Have you ever done a Prehab Not Rehab week?