The path to recovery led to a stronger finish for this former race-to-finish runner

By Jamie Silva

Conditions were near perfect at this year’s New Balance Power Run. A mix of experienced and beginner runners; some were eager to get ahead at gun start. I thought an easy pace for the first five kilometers would be good warm-up, with a kilometer shy of a half marathon to run after. For something that started out as fun, running has taken over my life like an addiction. Most find it hard to resist the temptation to “do more,” but it occurred to me that sometimes less is more.

I fell in love with the Power Run 25K distance the first time I finished it—a year before when all I did to keep fit was running. As I progressed from a race-to-finish to finish-with-new-PR kind of runner, I slowly felt the wear and tear on my body from pounding against concrete every day. I lacked a proper training plan, overtrained, and eventually suffered from Achilles Tendinitis. The turn of events would later lead this setback from running to improve my fitness.

Newfound hobbies—cycling and swimming—became alternative sources of endorphins. It had less impact on my body, rehabilitated my injury, and elicited the same euphoria as running. I worked with coaches who helped me yield the benefits of cross-training and recognize the importance of recovery. Alternating swimming and cycling in between runs leaves me less sore and recovered from the impact involved with running. I log in less mileage but more productive workouts. At the 15km mark of the race, I recalled how soreness crept up my lower leg beyond this distance. That morning, I was pain-free.

As I progressed from a race-to-finish to finish-with-new-PR kind of runner, I slowly felt the wear and tear on my body from pounding against concrete every day. But at the 15km mark of the race, I recalled how soreness crept up my lower leg beyond this distance. That morning, I was pain-free

What happens when I’m not running? I rest, sleep, unwind on Sunday afternoons, or do low intensity activities like yoga or hiking to repair my muscles and come back stronger on my next run. I reaped these benefits and finished the 25K in 2 hours and 40 minutes—20 minutes faster than my PR the year before.

What might not be a huge advancement for a runner training over 12 months changed my life dramatically. During the same period, I’ve added another half marathon, a sprint, and an Olympic distance triathlon under my belt. An efficient cross-training and recovery plan allowed me to reach my personal fitness goals alongside my day-to-day routine.

The New Balance Power Run was a good yearender. Holidays signal an off-season and whether an elite or recreational runner, December is the best time for complete physical and mental recovery. Onward to 2015 in better condition for bigger feats.