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Thread: Falling apart in a long recovery/layoff period page

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    sbhikes's Avatar
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    Falling apart in a long recovery/layoff period

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    Because of summer vacationing, gym closures and conferences to attend, I've been given basically a 5 or 6 week layoff from weight lifting and sprinting and I'm on week 4 of it.

    Here's the thing, when I ceased the lifting and sprinting August 9, it took a full week or more before I felt normal. I sort of fell apart during that time. I got really achy and sore and felt weak and fatigued. After a week of total rest I felt pretty good and could hike and backpack feeling great. Then last week when I did some squats and goodmornings I was totally crippled with DOMS for about 4 days after. As if I had never done them before. I also did one sprint session and felt out-of-sorts afterwards. I could not get my heart rate down very quickly like previously. All this weekend I felt quite fatigued and tired. I just wanted to sit in the shade.

    What do you think all this means? Is it just that I was doing too much and not getting enough recovery or is it a sign of something else? Burned out adrenals? Laziness from not exercising very strenuously for a while? Am I just a weenie and wasn't doing enough before the layoff? What do you think I should do when they gym opens back up again?

    Please understand that I'm a 48-year-old woman and not some young guy full of wild oats.
    Female, 5'3", 49, Starting weight: 163lbs. Current weight: 135 (more or less).
    Starting squat: 45lbs. Heaviest squat: 180 x 2. Heaviest Deadlift: 230 x 2

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    drjoyous's Avatar
    drjoyous is online now Senior Member
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    Ha! Happens to me too (58 yo woman). All the PB wisdom re rest and "coming back stronger" are geared to younger and (often) male. Mark has commented that his advice isn't geared towards us, and that we need to n=1.

    I've learned to live with it--it means, for me, that my body recovered, but I lost some strength in the process. I don't "come back stronger" despite taking a week--or several--off. It can feel discouraging (why CAN'T I LIFT MORE WEIGHT??!!). I can end up sore (like you did) or lay like a beaten dog on the couch to recover. So no, I don't think it necessarily means you didn't work out hard enough before, or that you're not rested enough, etc. It's just your body doing its thing.

    I've made peace with it (sort of....!).

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    It'll take a couple weeks to get back in your groove most likely, but you will hit that groove much more quickly than the last time round. Just start a bit lighter and maybe less sets. Give it a couple weeks and you will be right back where you left off..... hell you might even be ready for some new PR's. No worries, just do it

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    I find that after taking a few days off from the long hikes my hips and ankles feel achey, like I need a couple of weeks off to heal before I do it again. That's what I do, and I start low and build up. I find it takes less time to come back than it did to get in that shape in the first place. I feel like it's my body deciding that a badly-needed break can be scheduled now that I don't need to hike every day as some sort of a primordial migratory movement.

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    sbhikes's Avatar
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    I know how that feels when you stop hiking and fall apart. That happened to me after hiking the PCT. I was hiking daily then. Once I got home I figured I would just keep active and maintain my fitness but instead it was like suddenly my hips and knees and feet were a mess and all I could manage was to barely limp around for a while.

    I'm not too concerned with future progress, I just worry that maybe I wasn't being as effective as I could be before, perhaps doing more than I should, and maybe that's why I stopped making any real progress and getting hurt and stuff. Most people want you to believe that you are just not working hard enough or not having high enough expectations of yourself, and I tend to think that way about myself too, but now I'm not so sure.
    Female, 5'3", 49, Starting weight: 163lbs. Current weight: 135 (more or less).
    Starting squat: 45lbs. Heaviest squat: 180 x 2. Heaviest Deadlift: 230 x 2

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    diene's Avatar
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    I think it's normal to experience severe DOMS again after taking a few weeks off. Your body needs to get used to working out again. Just ease back into it. Give it some time, and it will return to normal.

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    my 2c worth. my energy levels are very seasonal. in the summer i do loads and i struggle with much more than hiking 6ks a day and weight training once a week in the winter. i think you can overdo it regardless of your age and i have said this before but i really try to do stuff that is maintainable. in 10 or 20 years will i still be doing this sorta thing. i also try to avoid sports injuries like the plague. i do still get what i call "sports injuries" but none of them ever seem to happen when i am training or exercising. i also try very hard, and fail often, to get the nutrition and sleep right as i find if i get stressed and eat badly, stay up too late, party too much to avoid thinking about what i really should be dealing to, get into the caffeine big time etc, my body suffers. then the more i stress and the less i can train, the worse it gets. it definitely was easier when i was younger but my life was way easier then so i dont actual think it is age related.

    so for me, i would look into what other factors are going on. do things like have epsom salt baths after you have trained to help with muscle recovery. cold showers if you can stand it lol and i never can! maybe go for some massages or get some body work to see if anything is out of line. heart rate issues with me are either magnesium deficiency or too much caffeine too. and then also take a step back and decide if you are/were enjoying the exercise you are doing. if not, work out something you can do which you do enjoy.

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    I've been slow pace running regular miles for 8-years, weight lifing 2-3x per week the past 3 and doing my version of primal eating just over 2 years. At 51-years old I no longer know what normal recovery and progression feels like. I've done much more in the past and my memory tells me I recovered faster and made more progress. I don't know if that's actually true. I believe it's all part of a larger life/health cycle. You deal with each day as it comes.
    You are what you eat and do. Keep up the lifestyle.

    Your quality of life will be much better keeping these habits than if you don't. It's always easier to reach the mountain top of your ability if you live halfway up the mountain than at the base.

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    For me, DOMS in any significant measure come from three factors:

    1. How new the movement is to me
    2. My diet
    3. Volume

    The first one is pretty self-explanatory. The second is the issue with calories and protein. If I am running a deficit, in either calories or protein, DOMS is more apparent. The third is how much I actually do. Two very heavy sets of squats will produce much less soreness, provided diet in in check, than five sets of moderate intensity.

    Sbhikes, I think the issue for you is at least partly due to the layoff, and could also have to do with points 2 and 3, which you have not mentioned.

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    sbhikes's Avatar
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    Primal Blueprint Expert Certification
    Well, I've been quite a pig since my vacation. As for the volume, maybe it was too much? I did:
    Squat
    5x60lbs
    5x75lbs
    5x90lbs
    5x105lbs
    3x120lbs
    2x120lbs

    I was trying to see how heavy I could still lift. I had done 140lbs for one rep and 130 for 3 reps plus all the same warmups as above the week before I went on vacation.
    Female, 5'3", 49, Starting weight: 163lbs. Current weight: 135 (more or less).
    Starting squat: 45lbs. Heaviest squat: 180 x 2. Heaviest Deadlift: 230 x 2

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