Thursday, August 17, 2017

Running on empty

My last blog post I talked about taking time off from races. It's been a tough year for this coach.

I'd like to elaborate a bit on what that means, then I'll give an update.

As a triathlete my general training schedule, depending on what phase I'm in, usually has three running sessions per week; one endurance run, one intensity & one fun run with my dog. I have two bike rides (endurance & intensity) & two to four swim sessions (one endurance & lots of technique. A few short swims). I take two days off every week, which means some days I do two disciplines in one day, & I take one week off per month. 

This is not an overly taxing schedule. This is also the general plan for me, as I
Me on far left with my triathletes I trained for
Honolulu Tri in May.
I wasn't able to do this race, my first year not
participating. What a great team!
always have to listen to my body. Sometimes those intensity sessions are quite short, and those endurance sessions end up being short too. Depends on my health that day and again, what phase of training.

But this year - meaning all of 2017 up through August, I had two run sessions that felt good. Like a normal person. Two. Two run sessions from January to August that I didn't feel encased in cement, lugging my body through each step. Two runs that I didn't have to mentally force my body to move. This is why I tell my clients if I can do it they can do it. 

This is not over training syndrome. This is chronic illness folks. It tries to suck every bit of joy in life from you, and it will if you let it. It tries to take what you love away, and it will if you let it. Which is why I willed my body to go & refuse to give up on the joy life brings. I always say God gave me an extra dose of zest for life because He knew I'd need it. I love my zest. I love my zest & I love triathlons.

My last race was the Ironman 70.3
Hawaii. I did the swim in the relay.
It. Was. Awesome. Don't set limits!
Please, before you say I should quit, understand that my doctors have told me the only reason I am not disabled is due to me taking supreme care of myself. Everyone else they've come across with the test numbers similar to mine HAVE BEEN DISABLED. Disabled, people. And here I am doing my thing. Praise God for giving me a love of health & fitness at an early age so it was already my lifestyle before I got sick!

So the remaining 2017 race season is for shorter, less intense workouts and no races. I'm keeping it under Z4 & no longer than 30 minutes. So far I've been quickly recovering from each session. I've got the rest of 2017 to go. We'll see what 2018 brings for this zesty coach and triathlete! One thing's for sure, I am not giving up on myself.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Listening to my body

It's hard for me to talk about my health problems. Maybe it's because they have never been able to pinpoint exactly what's wrong so I'm left with a vague explanation of what's happening. 

I think it's also because you never know the reaction you'll get when you mention chronic illness. When I first started having problems I ran into some people who had the attitude of 'you're making this up' or I got the feeling they somehow thought I brought it on myself. I guess from all the years of eating right & exercising...

So yes I still get anxious about discussing things. But I'm working on pushing past my comfort level to talk more about chronic illness. There's a lot of you that deal with it also on a daily basis, and I think it's important to stop feeling awkward about it is a good step.

In that light, I'd like to share my year. It's not been great for this coach. Not horrible but not great. I haven't felt well. A low to moderate level of just kinda miserable, very tired and spiraling. Around June my body was just physically exhausted. Now, this isn't workout exhausted and this isn't from over training. I want to be clear that I didn't become ill from working out. In fact, my doctor's haven't agreed on much but one thing they do agree on is keep exercising because it's been a life saver. 
I'm working on cadence & smooth pedal
stroke on my bike.

Since June's breaking point I made the decision to drop all races for the rest of 2017. I decided my body was telling me to break from specific training. This is the first since 1994 that I've taken the summer off from races. I'm due.

I'm still exercising but I'm keeping it shorter, lower intensity and going on how my body feel vs what my schedule says. However that doesn't mean I have to 'start over' when I'm ready. There's plenty I can do. I'm keeping it short but I can still improve on technique, skills & enjoy the swim bike run lifestyle.

I feel really good about listening to my body. In some ways having chronic illness helps because it forces you to learn and listen to your body. In that sense, I'm a way...

I don't know if they'll ever figure out what's wrong with me. But until then I'm focused on leading the best life possible and I hope to inspire others to do the same. 

Please feel free to contact me if you need to talk to someone about chronic illness. Sometimes just a listening ear from another person that understands makes things better. - coach Emily Collins