(Continued from last week)
Over the coming months I would learn that the second arterial surgery didn’t work and as a result of that surgery I had to be hospitalized twice over a five month period for blood clots and put on warfarin, a blood thinner. In June 2013 I had my third and final surgery and was taken off warfarin. For months after surgery I spent the majority of time in bed. In August I started to feel better and began to get out and walk regularly, I even tried an open water swim. Twenty strokes was all I could do at a time before I would have to stop and catch my breath. In November, 2013, I started adding in a little running and riding on the trainer. In December I went back to the hematologist for my one year check in with him and also had my ferritin checked again. I wanted to do this before I started any type of regular workout program. My ferritin levels had gone from 32-60 over that one year period even with the blood clot episodes and third surgery. Since Jan 2014 it’s gone up from 60-89 in the last 5 months. The point of all this is this. I think it’s important to know where within the “normal range” you should be. Your normal and my normal might be different. As an endurance athlete being within the standard normal range for your test results might not be the best indicator of what’s normal for you.
When I started working out back in November I was very concerned about what the added stress of exercising might do to my ferritin levels and also about what exercising might do to the arteries that had basically been replaced in my last surgery. I had gained close to 30lbs and was in way worse shape than even I knew at the time. It was when I traveled to IMAZ in late November that I learned just how out of shape I was. I spent the day watching the athletes and felt great being on my feet all day but at one point, when I tried to follow Jess as she leaped up this 2.5 foot rock wall, I couldn’t get up and just about fell on my bum… I had to yell for Jess to come help me get up the wall. I discovered that day how guarded I still was with all my movements and how incredibly weak I had become. Jumping up on that rock wall was something that, prior to surgery, I wouldn’t have given a second thought about. I would have hopped up on one leg and kept running like Jess. Jess thought it would be fun to have me attempt the step up again and to capture it on video. I didn’t think it was such a great idea but went along with it.. (see below). She thought it would be good for me to look back a year from then and see how far I had come J
I came home from IMAZ feeling motivated and ready to get back in shape. I did a lot of thinking about what I had learned over the weekend about my body. I was motivated, yes, but I was also afraid. Afraid that all too familiar pain would come back and really afraid to stress and hurt my body. I wanted to do the right thing but what was the right thing for me to do?
I decided to continue with the walking and step mill and riding on the trainer at home. I started using my heart rate monitor which I hadn’t used for years. I should have started swimming but couldn’t bring myself to put my bathing suit on and get to the pool. Two months earlier when I was in Kona I had no problem going to the beach in a bathing suit with all the fittest people in the world looking on :-) I was in Kona with Kaylee and I was going to swim in the ocean and see all the fish with her …nothing was going to keep me from having that experience…NOTHING. So it wasn’t about people seeing me, it was more about how it made me feel about myself. I knew that going to the gym putting on my bathing suit wasn’t going to make me feel good like swimming in the ocean with Kaylee.. so why do it? At that point swimming just wasn’t that important to me. My biggest challenge I am dealing with now and working hard to figure out is the balance of my personal life stress with the stress that my workouts are putting on my body as well.
I struggle with writing a blog that offers coaching advice on line to athletes about whom I know very little. Becoming a good athlete has as much to do with what is or is not going on inside the athlete’s head as it has to do with all the carefully planned workouts. I believe a good coach needs to have an understanding of both the physical and mental state of the athlete they’re working with to be effective. For this to happen there must be a level of respect and trust between coach and athlete.