Thursday, April 6, 2017

Cycling for the Terrified (Me)

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So... many of you out there probably have an idea of what it's like to be anxious. At least, occasionally, anyway. Maybe some of you do suffer with more regular anxiety in your life. Maybe it just pops up when there is something particular stressful happening in your life.

Then, there is the lucky type such as myself who gets to shoulder generalized anxiety disorder with a hefty side of social anxiety. It's pretty great. For one low price, you get to constantly worry about every little detail of your life - the safety and well-being of the people you love, every pain/ache/unwell feeling in your own body, the safety of the roads, the safety of the car seat straps, the strength and function of the locks on all the exterior doors of the house, the quality of life of the dogs, the balance between structure/learning and downtime for your active child, the damage Trump is doing already as "President", the global warming crisis....

Okay, wow, that was just the current top-of-mind stuff.

So... after many, many, many years of trying to work through a lot of that, here I sit! It seems to be a part of me that has no intention of waning or leaving.

Nowadays, especially since having Baby D, I realize that I need an outlet. Exercising seems like as good as any option (mind you, if you read this blog or know me in real life, you know that never seems to work out very well because my body seems to enjoy injuries and illness far far more than being active and healthy....).

But then creeps in that motherfucking anxiety.

Baby D is in a class so I can bike. But... I don't know how to change a flat tire. I don't even own an extra tube. I have a portable pump, but I don't know where to attach it to my bike frame so it's been a fixture in the back seat of my vehicle (Pro-tip: super helpful to have a pump somewhere inaccessible and useless!). I also fear speed. I clocked just under 40km/hr downhill yesterday and I nearly had to change my bib shorts. I see any twig or uneven surface as a possible Stephanie-launching enemy. I AM that person that would hit a branch the wrong way and break all my limbs while landing on a dump truck.

I worry that something will happen with her and I won't hear my phone ring. Or that I will end up too far from my home or car and not make it back in time. I set an alarm on my phone, but also fear it's set wrong or won't be audible. Seriously. I set an alarm yesterday, and it never went off while I was riding. Turns out I somehow set it for 1:50pm but specifically for Friday. It was Monday.

Riding on the road means certain death. Drivers in BC are terrifying, even moreso when all there is between you is some air and a helmet. If I pull the kid in the trailer, you bet your ass we're on a trail without traffic.

So I try to live life. I don't want my fear of all things to keep me down and hiding behind drawn curtains. For someone without anxiety, that only seems logical. I feel like those readers who also suffer, either openly or privately, will understand just how much more daunting trying to get out there and bike, or swim, or run, can be when you fear a thousand scenarios beyond just getting yourself out there and moving.

I know I can fail. Or just really suck at the sport. That isn't where the fear lies. I was raised to assume I will fail. But I recognize that it'll take work to really see gains, and there's no way to improve unless I keep trying. And the chronic pain? It can just STFU for a little while because I will hurt whether or not I exercise.

I've been told that I am foolish to keep training or exercising when I get hurt so easily. While I see the truth in that when it comes to things like obstacle races (I can't effectively train for some of those motions/movements, and I've been injured at them repeatedly, so I'm done with those for the next few years, anyway), I am still working towards racing. Having a goal of something that really scares me, even keeps me awake some nights, is something to really work towards. I take it seriously and know I have to put in several workouts a week if I really want it to happen.

Riding can feel so freeing. It's awesome to be able to physically climb some of the badass hills around here. I need to take breaks, but I don't quit. I feel fear but also excitement, which is pretty amazing. I AM capable.

I fear stupid shit AND big shit. So I might as well still aim high. 

I watch Baby D, and although she is just finally starting to show more signs of apprehension and hesitation before some activities where she can get hurt, I also see her total zest for life and willingness to try something. And she usually LOVES it once she gets out there. She's inspiring. She's everything I want to be when I grow up. Ha.


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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Not Entirely Sure How...

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But it's true.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Indeed it is true.

Have a wonderful day!

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Sunday, February 26, 2017

How Do You Train When Your Body Hates You?

2 COOOOOOMMENTS! Now you speak up!
Some of you may know that I've struggled with health issues, illness and injuries throughout my life.

Many of the more recent injuries were from attempting fun sporting events or races with insufficient training, bad luck and a body seemingly made of tissue paper. At this stage and age, I know I can't do it anymore and just hope for the best. So I've been a very good girl since Mudderella in September of 2016. I went in with some training, but had been set back from illness and two injuries sustained over the summer.

I made it through that uphill obstacle race using caution and survived unscathed. That's the first event with a successful outcome.

When I was growing up, sports and exercise were never really a part of my life. I did a fun dance class when I was young, but the vast majority of my sporting and exercise exposure was through different events at school.

And even then, the first time I skied when I was 11 or 12, I managed to break my baby finger. On the bunny/baby slope. While wearing mitts. On a snow fence to the opposite side of my injured hand.

That type of shake-my-head-what-the-hell-happened type of injury was the first of many.

In high school gymnastics I was injured trying to dismount in a straddle from the high uneven bar, over the low bar, to land on the ground. I'd done it many times before, but on that particular day, whoever installed the high bar into the metal post stands forgot to actually ATTACH it. The bar bounced up and out of the poles and I managed to smash both ankles into the low bar. And to make matters worse, Coach Mackey forced me to jump back up to the high bar immediately, and the pain was horrific. The memory is seared into my mind. Her wanting me to "get back on the horse" did not fit well with damaged tendons.

Anyway, this idea of being hurt isn't new. But I've tried to train better as I've gotten older. And my body has resisted me at every step of the way.

I've wanted to continue with obstacle races and challenges, like the wine country half marathon, to prove to myself that I am capable. To have something to look forward to - a goal that both scares and motivates me. A reason to keep moving and eventually feel a sense of accomplishment.

While raising Baby D is an accomplishment, and something wonderful, my world is relatively small. It's taken a major shift just since January of 2017 to realize that it's okay for me to go exercise for myself. To plan and take the time to do it for me.

And I have also had a shift in my thinking and endurance. Previous medications I had been on caused me to overheat really quickly and even pushing my heart rate would make me feel incredibly ill. I would try and assumed that it was just that I was too overweight/out of shape and that exercise would stop being so hellish once I was "conditioned". Having those medications out of my system has been ASTOUNDING. I start to feel unwell when I push my heart rate to the max zone, and understandably so, but overall exercise is challenging in a GOOD way - I don't feel that horrible drowning feeling that I used to. That is incredibly freeing and has allowed me to ramp up my intensity.

So... I had started training more seriously. Nothing over the top or insane. Activities maybe 4-5 times per week. Running (which is still jogging/walking intervals for me), spin classes and swimming.The odd random fitness class like kickboxing or rock climbing or aerobics.

Before 2017 I had tried ONE spinning class, and I figured I would never be strong enough or fit enough to do another. But I CAN. I AM STRONG ENOUGH. And it feels fucking AMAZING to finish a class and know that it was a big fear of mine but I can do it. And improve in it.

But with this training, I've tried to eat more often. I usually have horrific nausea in the morning so I've started forcing myself to chug a green smoothie with protein powder, chia seeds, spinach, peas, hemp hearts, avocado and water. It's gross yet, surprisingly, I don't feel like throwing up afterward.

I reduced my caffeine intake to half a cup of coffee, or 2/3 cup of tea, and I have DRAMATICALLY cut back on alcohol. I used to drink a few bottles of wine a week. Now, I'll have it if we have dinner with friends, and have had a glass on maybe four occasions at home since mid-November.

Here comes the new body has basically told me to fuck off. I woke up 5 weeks into training, feeling like I'd been hit by a truck. I thought it was a period setback. But I got worse... and worse. And at the end of that week I went to the hospital emergency room when I nearly passed out after an inactive day, and a nap.

I have atrociously low iron stores, but the rest of my blood work was stellar. On paper, I was a rock star. At home, I was barely keeping my eyes open to take care of Baby D. The doc explained that he had seen cases like mine before and he believed that it was over training.

OVER TRAINING??? I was just being HEALTHY. Or at least trying. Unsuccessfully. I never pushed myself to feeling horrible. I worked hard in whatever activity I was doing that day, but never went insane. I really believe that while it was an increase from what I was used to, it was well within what a "NORMAL" person could easily manage.

And yes, I know, I'm not normal. But this is nuts. I'm ending week two of rest. I did an 8km outdoor bike ride with the Hubs yesterday and was very tired after.

I hate feeling helpless when I really made good choices, didn't FEEL like I pushed myself in any kind of harmful way. The Hubs can do a 6+km run and swim 1km no prob and play hockey later that night.

So how do I train when my body hates me? When 5 weeks of progressive training results in 2 weeks of uselessness? I signed up for my first even in early March and I hate being sidelined.

And while everyone likes to say to stop or slow down a bunch, imagine being me. Trying, doing everything right, looking perfectly healthy on paper. Trying to do what thousands of other do every day. I want to have goals, something to work towards, and it is so frustrating when it just seems like I need to take a two week vacation because my body hates me.

I'm going to start back in much easier this week, slowly, but I still want to do my race.
I hate constantly feeling like I'm benched.
Like I can't PARTICIPATE in life. In fun things.

It's so disheartening and upsetting.


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