The running journey our son is on has been beautiful. Watching …. something I can’t identify…. grow inside of him is inspiring. Listening to him dream is incredible.
I debated on whether to get him a garmin or just a regular running watch for Easter. I wasn’t sure how much data he cared about or needed. I never want him to be an athlete who looks at his watch instead of listens to his heart. But I pulled the trigger and got him a simple one with what runners might need. Pace, miles, mapping, time.
Once he saw his running routes, his mile totals, his different paces…. he was hooked. He doesn’t get into getting all of his splits in various sessions… he’s interested in seeing where he goes and how many miles he’s run. He couldn’t believe how much he runs each week (It’s a safe amount, I am sure of that).
I love watching THAT excitement and THAT curiosity. He’s filled with wonder … as kids should be. There are a few days of the week he and I run together (with track in session, not many). Running with him has been not only good for my heart but my soul. When we were pregnant I dreamed of all the things we would share but running together didn’t cross my mind and I am glad it didn’t because it’s just so special now.
He’s helping me heal.
After several months of testing, consults, and a whole lot of data collecting we’ve finally come to understand what’s been going on with me the past few years. Take this ride with me for a minute.
We live in a society and culture where our lack of sleep and our accomplishments are a form of admiration and bravado. I have always been the queen of that movement. I have prided myself in how many miles I rode, how many hours I trained, how much I could fit into a day. I won the life race of lack of sleep and lack of laziness. I did that for a good 20 years, and longer likely.
Our bodies are amazing pieces of work. They are designed to sustain just about anything. They break down and can heal. But our bodies will break down when they are pushed long enough and hard enough. For the past 3-4 years mine has been breaking down. I felt a lot of fatigue, lack of mojo, low blood pressure, low blood sugar, low Iron. I am the best at functioning while exhausted so I pushed on. I thought setting new goals and training harder was the answer.
But it wasn’t.
After a long time of tracking and researching and discussing we believe I have a small form of adrenal fatigue (I have a really good doctor). This is often aligned with the stigma of fibromyalgia, one of those syndromes that doesn’t quite seem legit. I don’t think there is even a code for it. There are a lot of doctors who don’t understand it. I don’t fit into all of the symptoms neatly. I didn’t experience weight gain, I never stopped exercising. Mine were mostly in the form of feeling weak and exhausted, recurrent migraines, etc. It’s also something that takes a long time to “diagnose”, not just a few weeks. I didn’t spend more than co pays to determine this either, I didn’t go to anyone who isn’t a medical doctor . I know good ones who know athletes and who look outside the box.
I had to do a lot of tracking of weight, blood pressure, nutrition, activity and it’s critical that you are honest. I know a lot of people who think they have this because they gain weight, they tell their doctor that they eat super healthy then fill their instagram feeds with photos of frosting and donuts. Hmmm. A big part of this is YOUR honesty and the knowledge of people who understand this.
Like I said I did not experience the weight gain but I did experience things like hypotension. I generally didn’t feel well. I do eat really well so I was able to inadvertently help myself along the way on that front. I slept but not that great. A whole bunch of things went into my decline and it happened over a good 20 years of being an athlete and a nurse.
A few months ago I did realize that I needed that break (I wrote about that extensively this winter) but I honestly thought I just needed a break. I didn’t realize my BODY needed a break.
The treatment is completely awesome. How many people have the opportunity to NOT take medications or go through some horrendous medical therapy for something they have? Not many. Our body is an amazing thing. It will heal itself if given the right support. My ‘treatment’ plan is… well it’s an awesome blessing. For the next month these are the rules:
- 5 Sessions of weight training per week
- 8 hours max of cardiovascular exercise
- Nutrition: continue with fresh fruits and veggies, lean meats, not quite Paleo but not quite Vegan.
- 80 ounces of water per day (add in coconut water when possible)
- 8-10 hours of sleep per night
- 2 x 10 minute meditations per day.
- A big dose of patience.
It seems like a lot of exercise to someone who doesn’t exercise. But that’s like 90 minutes a day which is somewhat unnerving but I am in. It’s only a month. For my cardio I can keep on my running focus (with a touch of swim / bike to fill in). I consulted my former strength coach Steve (From Midtown) who has developed a really unique and fun strength program for me (more on that next week). Remember I am one who has trained 15-20 hours a week for a LONG TIME. There came a point where I stopped seeing results from that workload…. which is likely when this began. This is my hardest one!
Why meditation? Because meditation works for a lot of things and I need to calm the hell down. I have been using Headspace very regularly so I will continue that with more frequency.
I work with a wonderful Registered Dietician who is a big believer in whole foods, much like I am. She does not prescribe a lot of supplements because we want to stimulate the body to create it’s own hormones, rather than do the work for it. We can get just about everything we need from food. So I shall. I am not to eat candy and shit like that for a month, which will be a challenge. It’s not to take away the good stuff, it’s to just help my body do it’s own healing and sugar doesn’t hurt it…. but it doesn’t help it. I am an all or nothing girl. I gave it up. The water is because…. our bodies need a lot of water. The coconut water because it provides a lot of good electrolytes. I take lemon coconut water and mix it with regular water in a 1:10 ratio. I am cheap! ALSO: I am not interested in purchasing shakes, potions, or ANY oils. Please don’t ask. I won’t explain myself. I will just not respond. Thanks in advance for respecting that.
I have been sleeping like a teenager. I hit the pillow at 8-9pm and wake up at 4-5. Over spring break I would wake up, get up, go back to bed. It’s awesome. I don’t use technology to track sleep, I know the MINUTE I wake up if it was good or not. Sleep is when our body heals itself. I can’t tell you how many times I worked a night shift came home and rode 100 miles. You don’t even want to know.
This wasn’t a big epiphany “diagnosis”. I had a good feeling what I was experiencing was something along these lines. I am lucky. I could have easily gotten really sick with a much more difficult diagnosis, I was well on my way. When your prescription involves allowing the body to do what it naturally does, it’s called getting a huge warning sign and needing to listen.
At the same time having a plan is where I function best. I don’t do well without something to follow. Turns out that I am well on my way for my 2016 plan of taking that step back, running and SUPing.
If you think this all sounds familiar to you…. talk to your doctor. Take it upon yourself and do your research. When you research do not Google this. Go to PubMed, look for peer reviewed materials. There is a lot of good research on it, and there is a lot of not so good research. If you feel your doctor blows you off…. find one who understands you. Don’t buy into internet scams on “this shake fixes adrenal fatigue for $19.99″.
I don’t fit neatly into the ‘diagnosis’ and I don’t have all of the symptoms, so I even hesitate to call it a diagnosis. It’s really a group of symptoms within my power to treat. It took a long time to slide into this, it will take a long time to pull out of it. And stay out of it. My hopes of my 2017 racing season just got a lot brighter now knowing that I am on the path to health.
Regardless….. don’t buy into the movement I used to lead. There is no trophy for sleeping the least, doing the most, and spreading yourself so thin. Actually there is a prize, want to know what it is? Illness. There is your prize.
Instead…. champion the movement of good health. Be proud of taking good care of your body. Be proud of how strong you can be. The example we set for our children is that we are strong women who don’t neglect themselves. That we take the time to care for our amazing bodies and we are better for it. I may be the ONLY one in this camp right now…. but dammit I am going to spread this message.
I have to track everything for the next month. I like to track through photos because it’s easy to snap a photo rather than write something down in a calendar. I will be tracking over on my Instagram account, find me at @themaryeggers or click here. You don’t even have to follow to follow. I am not a big workout selfie person, but if I do I am very tongue in cheek about it. So if you are interested in this, or even on the steps to better health and self care…. follow along.
Bottom line: our bodies will tell us when what we are doing isn’t conducive to our lives. I don’t believe for one second my competitive career is over. Especially now. When I am healed, when I am ready I will take to the competition field again, and I have a good feeling that armed with what I know and am experiencing now…. some of my top performances are ahead of me.
Right now…. running with our son is a major part of this journey. I am healing my body. His attitude and wonder is healing my soul. It is amazing what our children teach us. I am all about being the student these days.