DOM, DOM, DOM

,,, And we’re not talking about the dramatic chord sequence that accompanies the revealing of a murderer’s identity in old-time mystery films.

DOMS is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. After last week’s squat, lunge, kettle bell, medicine ball marathon with Harry the Personal Trainer I had three days of DOMS. Big time.

It’s unpleasant; it involves walking like a robot, it involves emitting weird noises every time you get out of a chair – mostly ‘Arrgggghhhhhh’. It involves learning new ways to get in and out of bed and it makes lowering yourself into a bath something of a challenge. It involves slow, strange descents of stairs and a slight feeling of nausea. It’s annoying.

Harry says what’s going on is the high-intensity exercise – jumping, squats, lunges stuff – is causing little tears in the muscles. This is what aches and feels tight and stiff. After the soreness goes the muscles are rebuilding, getting stronger and bigger and more effective.

So no pain, no gain is true here, annoying though the pain is. It also stops you running for a few days. (Ever seen a robot run?) which seems to contradict what I’m aiming to achieve here. How can I be running faster when I’m struggling to walk?

But when you can get your running shorts on without keeling over you should be a stronger runner. Says Harry.

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Recovery rocks

There is a good reason for taking a break after a tough training session – your body needs to recover and more running will do it no good at all.

Rest and recovery are as important as nutrition and sleep.

The science goes a bit like this, according to Harry the personal trainer: after a heavy session of exercise – like mine today – your muscle fibres have torn. They knit themselves back together and as they do they build more muscle, hence muscles get bigger and stronger. And to do all that knitting they need a break.

Give them a day or two’s breathing space and they’ll still be less than 100% and so you’ll find a testing session, like some interval training, won’t be easy. Maybe harder than it was the week before.

But that doesn’t mean you’re getting worse. It means you’re pushing your body harder and that will mean more tearing and knitting and building and strengthening.

It’s a fine balance isn’t it, between overtraining and gaining maximum benefit. If in doubt, easy does it.