Friday, October 29, 2010

Update on Running and Life

I just realized I never wrote a Wasatch report. Because I had to DNF at Francis Peak, and determine my body is still healing.

However, after taking quite a bit of a break, and doing some "easy" workouts, I am feeling better, my energy is returning, and I am not having the same hydration issues I was having with POTS.

I am starting to think my main problem can be attributed to my adrenal glands having been very stressed out from my first year of grad school having very little sleep, maintaining a full race/boxing schedule, practicum, classes, etc. Basically burning the candle on 5 different ends.

I have had to be very careful in getting a lot of sleep since my body just seemed to stop working for a couple of weeks in July, and my energy has been very low ever since then.

I was sleeping for 10-12 hours on most nights for a couple of months, and still feeling tired. But now, I am finally starting to feel a bit more normal, although I have to be careful and make sure I get no less than 7 hours of sleep a night, so I am in bed by 9-10 pm nearly every night.

But I have started picking up my training again, not back up to quite normal for me, but it is getting up there and running is starting to feel like something I remember that I like doing again, I am training 2 x per week with Tandi, the boxing queen, and she is pushing me a lot, and has recommended some supplements to me that are making a huge difference, and I am not needing abnormal amounts of sodium and potassium to stay alive! This is good news! This means my body is tolerating activity more normally, I am not requiring super high amounts of hydration anymore, this is also good news, and I believe having my adrenal glands starting to work more normally, is controlling some of the POTS symptoms, and even eliminating the need for higher amounts of salt than normal, or at least reducing the crazy amounts that I was having to take.

I pretty much have had to take a position for the moment of doing only what is necessary for my school, practicum, research assistant job, and then doing some physical activity as my body will allow and I have time for, and increasing the amount and intensity at a rate that will not stress my adrenal glands. But right now, sleep is still more of a priority than physical activity in the order of what my body needs, so if there is a choice, sleep is still winning out in importance.

That is starting to shift and balance out. To my friends I have not seen in a while, I am still here, but I am being pretty low-key in life as my body heals. I am happy to say, I am seeing a beginning of a return to my normal self, and ultimately I think my performance is going to be much better than it was before all this stuff occurred, because it has been affecting my abilities to perform, and my speed during endurance events had been losing ground even though my abilities in shorter runs had been improving, and my intensity increasing, but that all was affected as well, when my body seemed to shut down in July.

I skipped out on the Ogden Valley 50 mile run last week, and that was a difficult decision. I had been planning on running it even up through about 8 pm the night before, but I changed my mind after I realized how far behind I was in completing some school work, some stuff for my job, and just that I had been so busy all week, that I was not even ready in having my drop bags and would have been leaving my house after hurrying to pack, and driving the 1:45 hours to Mountain Green, and then running on little sleep, and expecting myself to then make up for the time I spent running by losing more rest on Sunday to catch up with my life.

So instead, being very tired at that point, I decided to go to bed, forget about the 4th year of the streak I was on with that race, and it having been my very first ultra 3 years ago, that was a bit emotional to give up, however, I decided I need to instead focus on healing, and doing what is best for my physical and mental health, and in being able to graduate with my Master's Degree in May and still be alive when I am done.

So instead I realized, that for this year, if I am planning on actually being able to run any races, and survive the demands of my extra clinical hours I have to put in for my practicum, get my course work done, attend to my family's needs as much as I am able to so that my children don't feel abandoned, I have to make an effort to zone in on actually prioritizing and planning so that I can get the work done before hand, without losing sleep, so that if I run a long race, and lose a whole weekend in racing, and sleeping after a race to allow my body to recover properly, and not stress out about having to then catch up on the other obligations I have to get my work done for school, and risk losing ground with my health that is now returning. I need to protect the healing space that I have found.

This has been a mental shift for me, to allow myself to be OK with deciding, even last minute, if a race is going to jeopardize my health and my ability to complete the other demands I have for this year. I used to feel like a failure if I had to DNF, or if I had to decide to not start a race I had committed to run. But I have come to the conclusion, that the only person who really cares if I finish a race, or start a race is myself, and I am holding a measure of importance on something that in the long run, is expendable and will not negatively affect myself or others in how successful I am with life.

On the other hand, if I do not complete my coursework, or meet my obligations to my family, or RA job, or I sacrifice sleep because I am trying to do everything, including a race that I can skip for now, and run next year, than those consequences are actually of significance, and my priorities are not in the right place if that is so.

So, now, I have compromised. I was very sad to miss the OV 50 last week, but it was horrible weather in the end anyway, and I can start over with a streak of 1 next year, and that is that. But not running that race, has allowed me space to get enough things in order, to plan for being completely free to run the new Antelope Island 100K on November 6th, and have any work that I need to have done complete before Friday night, so that when I run Saturday, I can come home, and sleep as much as I need to on Sunday, and wake up ready to do the work I need to on Monday, without scrambling to play the catch up game, and being over tired, and putting myself in a risk for getting sick or moody as a result.

So next up is the 100K, and I mentally preparing and trying to get enough of life in order to not lose sleep over it, plus have my race stuff ready a couple of days before, so I can just drive to the start line and have fun!

I am also working closely with Elena on having a mostly wholefood diet, which is helping my GI problems go way by eliminating anything with Corn Syrup, or refined carbohydrates.... since that seems to be part of my absorption issues.... and that is making a difference big time!

I am taking a new supplement from Nu Skin/Pharmanex, called Vitality, that is making the biggest difference in my energy, endurance, and recovery that I have ever seen with any product! Tandi got me on it, and I was skeptical, but it is making a huge huge difference! I am not needing more than a normal nights sleep, I am tolerating physical activity more normally now, and things are getting much better. I am also on an adrenal supplement with adrenal tissue and b-vitamins, some digestive enzymes, and probiotics.

These have all eliminated my need to have higher amounts of sodium, and my weight is starting to slowly return to normal as well, as at the adrenal problems caused my weight to jump by about 15 lbs, and had caused a 10 lb weight gain during the whole year before, so now I am trying to slowly get my body to drop those 25 lbs, which is a slow process to figure out with dietary adjustments, and just getting my body systems working normally, and getting rid of the fluid retention that has been problematic with all my fluctuating hydration needs.

So, it is quite an interesting process, and things are looking like they are finally staying in a positive upward direction, and leveling out slowly.

I will update on what happens with the Antelope Island 100K next week, and see how my body responds to my first real attempt at a race, with a more positive chance at being successful since my Katcina Mosa DNF.