Sunday, February 26, 2017

How Do You Train When Your Body Hates You?

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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  1. Overtraining is relative to the base you are training from. The low iron contributes to your current condition, as does your fitness history. You might not think you are "over training" because it doesn't seem like you are doing much activity compared to other people. But that's not relevant. If you need to dial back a bit, then do it, but keep your goals. You are changing a lot of stuff at once, and it's no surprise for your body to wonder WTF is going on. Hang in there.

    1. Thanks Keith. It just seems so crazy but I suppose my fitness base was basically nonexistent after my sprained ribs in October. I do well for periods then get sidelined for a few months. I just really want to do this race and not get hurt.


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