I PR’d My Recovery!

If you’ve been following along over the past few months, you may recall that I’ve got a new perspective on what I want to get out of moving my body.  Here’s what I wrote, 6 weeks or so ago:

I am grateful for my injury now because I think it helped me get my head on straight. Now that I realize just how much lifting helps me with depression and back aches, I also realize that my number one fitness priority is to keep myself lifting. Being free of depression and hopefully back aches means much more than any PRs or feeling proud of my lifting numbers. If I re-injure myself, there is a lot more at stake than some lost months of lifting progress… like my sanity, my mood, my productivity, my focus, and my ability to contribute at home. I don’t need PRs to be awesome. But I do need lifting to be my best self. Not for others, but for my own experience in this body as a comfortable place to live.

So, cool. I’d accepted and embraced the fact that I might not see PRs in the gym very often, if at all. I needed to examine my reasons for needing them in order to move past them.

I’ve been consistent with my swimming: 3 times per week, usually for around 90 minutes (unless I’m feeling especially exhausted that day; in which case I just get myself to the pool and swim until it stops feeling good, and then get out). In a typical 90 minute session, right now I usually swim anywhere from 2000 to 2400 yards (for non-swimmer reference: 1800 yards is equal to 1 mile). The distance varies depending on the particulars of the workout and which strokes and drills are included.

In the past, I think I would have been looking to “improve a little each week”….which would have meant adding more distance or time or both.

Now, knowing that my priority is consistency and long term function, I don’t worry at all if I swam 2400 yards last Thursday and  “only” 2200 yards today. I take each day for what it is, and I don’t worry about PRs. It’s nice if they happen, but….they just aren’t a priority anymore.

This week though, I noticed a different indicator of progress. I realized that even though my typical distance over the past month hasn’t changed that much, the way I FEEL the rest of the day has changed a lot. When I first joined my Drills and Distance class 3 months ago and started swimming those kinds of distances, I usually needed to take a nap in the afternoon, and I very often felt super hungry for the rest of the day and sometimes the day after.  This month, however, I usually did NOT need a nap in the afternoon, and I don’t feel excessively hungry after class.

To me, these are indicators that my body has adapted to the demands being placed on it, and is better able to recover without a ton of extra sleep and food. So even though I’m usually swimming the same distances I swam two and a half months ago, the fact that I can now swim those distances and go about my day without a nap and an extra meal is a PR in and of itself!

The lesson to me here is that PRs aren’t always evident in the gym or the pool. Sometimes they are evident in the recovery!

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