Having made the official choice to pull out of the Montreal Marathon thanks to a torn calf muscle, I am now in full-scale recovery mode. We all need a little recovery time periodically, and generally that means rest. But I'm not very good at resting, and besides, I don't actually need any rest. My calf needs rest, but I myself can still do plenty of exercise.And because I am highly reliant on exercise for diabetes management, my "Recovery Mode" is more active than a total catatonic state. I haven't hit the chips-and-dip-on-a-Lay-Z-Boy just yet.
In the meantime, I thought it might be beneficial to share my recovery workouts with you as I go along. Recall that I am still aiming to complete the half-marathon in Montreal this September. Until then, I need to stay in good shame.
The Recovery Mode Workout
The first item of business is to prevent any further injury to any related or unrelated muscles. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary to stretch regularly. I myself have opted for stretching twice a day. Stretching improves muscle flexibility and helps prevent future injuries from occurring. It is no coincidence that the muscles on my right leg are among the tightest muscles in my body, and that it was my right calf that suffered an injury.
The exception to this is that you should not spend any time stretching a torn muscle. Therefore, while I am stretching a lot, I am absolutely not stretching my calf at all.
The next thing we need to consider is getting adequate cardiovascular exercise despite the fact that my primary means of cardio (running) is unavailable to me. I first tested whether I could simply reduce the length and intensity of my daily runs. No dice. Next, I tried getting a good, hard daily workout on a stationary exercise bike. This was much better, but I still found that it affected my calf. I tried the elliptical machine a few times, and felt that it had the same impact on me as running.
What I've settled for at this point is about a 40-50 minute workout on an Arc Trainer or stationary bike, stopping myself short of very heavy exertion. This allows me to get my heartrate up for an extended period of time. Unfortunately, it is not a very good workout for my leg muscles. Yin and Yang, though, right? It would be unreasonable to rest my muscles and exert them at the same time. Recovery means recovery, so I have to take it easy.
Strength training is where I have been making up the difference in my daily workouts. Training for a marathon involves reducing one's body mass and streamlining to become a running machine. Now that I'm out of the marathon and am hungry for a daily workout that meets my need to push hard every day, I find that lifting weights is the best logical place to go.
Understand that I am not at all lifting weights on my legs. I'm talking about upper body weights at this point.
IV: The Routine
What I've settled on is an A-Day/B-Day workout regimen in which I work out my triceps and shoulders on A days, and my biceps, back, and chest on my B-Days. Abs I work out every day.
When I've finished my weights workout, I get a light 40-50-minute cardio workout as described above. So far the Arc Trainer seems to work best, but I take things as they come. Any "second workout" I can get in during the day (a walk, a light hike, etc.), I take.
So that is pretty much what my "recovery mode" is looking like these days. So far, so good. My upper body is already responding to the added effort, I am kind of stabilizing my blood sugar again, and my leg really seems to be healing up well.
I will provide additional insight as it becomes available.