On Sunday morning, I made a wrong turn resulting in a back strain that has kept me off the roads and trails all week.
As with any injury – big or small – that keeps you from your usual routine, I am struggling with a bit of sadness and frustration. There is something about not having complete control over your body tends to have the unfortunate side-effect of making you realize everything else in life that you do not have control over.
So without running, I have had to come up with a way to do something healthful for myself in the mornings. Something that is introspective but also energizing. Something for the physical body, and something for my mind, too.
This is how I have been tackling my modified morning routine:
I have been waking up at the same time as I always do, as if I were about to head out for a run. Actually, I have been setting my alarm for the same time, but waking about fifteen minutes earlier. With far less physical activity, my body clearly demands less rest.
I weigh in. It is easy to use an injury or “rest days” as an excuse to indulge in unhealthy foods, or to snack endlessly on healthy ones. Weighing in each morning has kept me honest about what I am eating during my time off from running and it’s effects on my body.
I hit the mat. I don’t have my full range of motion right now, so taking a yoga class or even engaging in a full at-home practice is out of the question. Instead, I start in Goddess Pose, with my hands resting on my knees, palms facing upward to receive energy. After a few minutes, I’ll move in to Bridge Pose and then attempt either a half (one leg at a time) or full Happy Baby. I then move on to a few Cat-Cow stretches, and if I am feeling more confident in my flexion, I’ll move in to Cobra. I finish with a Down Dog stretch that I hold for ten breaths. I allow myself to come out of the pose in whatever way feels most natural (lately this has been lowering in to plank and then allowing my body to fall the rest of the way to the floor). Then I rest in Savasana for a few moments before turning on to my side and rising carefully.
I go about my usual routine. I take a shower, dress, take care of my skin, tweet — everything that I would normally do after a morning workout.
I cook with intention. Cooking energizes the creative side of my brain in a way that is similar to running. I need to maintain focus, but also improvise and make deliberate decisions regarding my next steps. My post-run go-to breakfast is usually a green smoothie with protein powder, but this week I have wanted something warm, comforting and satisfying. I have been making Maple Blueberry Hot Cereal each morning, and I think it is a comfort meal that will stay in my wintertime repertoire long after I’ve fully healed. You can find the recipe below.
I take my time. I have been leaving for work a little earlier so that I don’t have to make a mad dash down the subway stairs as I hear a 6 train approach. I need those extra few minutes right now, and that is okay. The healing process has taken a little while, and giving myself this extra time in the morning reminds me that I need to be patient with my body throughout the day ahead.
Maple Blueberry Hot Cereal
1/3 cup frozen organic blueberries
1 tsp maple syrup
1 pinch cinnamon
1 cup water
1/2 cup Kamut flakes *
1 cup unsweetened vanilla or plain almond milk
1 tsp almond or other nut butter (optional)
1 tsp chopped pecans or other nuts (optional)
* I have a wheat sensitivity, but do not have difficulty digesting this ancient form of wheat.
– In a sautee pan over medium heat, add blueberries, maple syrup and cinnamon. Sautee until the liquid released from the blueberries begins to thickens and becomes a syrup.
– Add the water and bring to a boil.
– Once boiling, add the Kamut flakes and stir occasionally. Return to a boil and lower flame to medium-low.
– After the water has been fully absorbed, add one-half cup of almond milk to the pot and continue cooking until all of the almond milk has been absorbed. Stir occasionally.
– At this point, the cereal should have a thick, creamy consistency and a bright purple color.
– Pour in to a bowl and top with remaining almond milk and nut butter or chopped nuts, if desired.
My little disclaimer: I am not a doctor or medical professional; nor am I a certified personal trainer. The information provided in this post is a description of my own experience and opinions. What works for me may not work for you. If you are interested in beginning a new exercise routine, please contact your physician.