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Cabin fever

This past weekend, I was feeling down. I completely blame my mood on my hatred for January and February. Hubby was still recovering from his illness, so we were extra lazy.

  • Friday: I skipped my workout.
  • Saturday: I cut my planned long run short by 3 miles.
  • Sunday: I slashed my swim workout in half.

By Sunday night, my blues lifted and I was eager to start a new week. My legs longed to get in a good tempo run on Monday.

But then this happened:

Doggie snow angels 😉

A few inches of snow Sunday night, topped with some ice on Monday.

I couldn’t run outside and my gym- along with the rest of the Southeast- was closed.

I yearned for a good workout, but my only piece of indoor exercise equipment is my husband’s bike trainer.

I know some people like it, but I loathe the trainer. I’m not the biggest fan of biking, but move it indoors, and I detest it even more. (Which is so odd because I used to heart spinning.) I haven’t been on the trainer since training for my first half marathon back in the spring in 2006.

But the past couple of days, if I wanted to sweat, this was my only option 😦

Monday, I rode the trainer for 45 minutes. It sucked. I used all of my treadmill tricks: varying my speed, distance, and position on the bike. It was still brutal.

Tuesday, I hopped on the torture device again. Because of saddle sores, I only lasted 35 minutes. 

I am crossing my fingers that the gym is open tomorrow. There’s no way I can hop on the bike for the third day in a row. I am running tomorrow no matter what. Even if that means running up and down my own stairs…

How do you workout when you’re stuck at home? One day I hope to have a home treadmill.

It’s no secret that regular physical activity is the key to good health. Being fit protects us from a slew of chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers (source).

That’s pretty darn awesome. I’m all about adding healthy years to my life. But, at the ripe old age of 28, my own mortality is not normally at the forefront of my mind.

So when I think of health threats (besides my fertility issues), I think more along the lines of running injuries or infectious illnesses, like a cold or the flu.

Which leads me to my thought of the day: does endurance exercise help our immune system or hurt it?

I’m not a doctor, nor am I going to do a thorough literature search, so please understand these are just my thoughts based on a very limited amount of research. (Bad, bad health educator)

Now, I know moderate exercise boosts your immune system. People who exercise regularly, for 30 to 75 minutes at a time, get far fewer colds than those who don’t (source).

But apparently you can have too much of a good thing. Experts say that when you exercise for 90 minutes or longer without taking a break, the immune system starts to wear down and you become more susceptible to infections. This vulnerability can last anywhere from 3 hours to 3 days (source and source).

That’s insane to me. When I was triathlon training, I’d have 3 workouts per week (long run, long bike ride, brick) that would crack the 1.5 hour mark. Most marathoners have one or two training runs a week that last longer than 90 minutes. And if you’re training for an Ironman? Forget about it! You may have two training sessions a day that each last more than an hour and a half.

Have any of you noticed if you get sick more often during training? I personally haven’t experienced this much. I don’t get sick often. I’m more fatigued for a couple of days after a long run, so I take it easy. This likely helps my immunity; along with fueling properly, taking rest days, being a germ-o-phobe, and getting regular chiropractic care.

Hand sanitizer is my BFF.

Post-race is another story though. How many of you have gotten sick in the week after a big race? I always feel really worn down after racing. And I often catch a cold a few days later. I think it has something to do with the time spent on my feet and the intensity at which I push myself.

I have a theory that ultra-endurance exercise events, like an Ironman, wear down your immune system for much longer than 3 hours to 3 days.

At least in my case study experience. There’s this guy who doesn’t get sick. I’ve known him for 10.5 years and I’ve never seen him with more than a case of the sniffles. Then he did an Ironman in November. He caught a cold the week after and had a horrible bout of the flu on New Year’s. Mmmhmmm.

Of course this could be a complete coincidence. But I don’t think so. I’m just going to accept that Ironman racing is bad for your immune system, so I have an excuse never to do one 😉

What are your thoughts on exercise and sickness?

The waiting game

Wow guys 🙂 Thank you so, so, so much for all of the emails, comments, and tweets regarding my fertility issues. I’m truly overwhelmed by your kindness. You guys rock!

A lot of you shared your stories, and I thank you. It always breaks my heart when I hear about other people going through the same thing. It’s crazy how many people struggle with baby-making.

That being said, keep in mind that fertility problems are not the norm. I know when you’re not yet ready for a baby, it’s hard not to worry about your future fertility. But chances are, you’ll go on to deliver a healthy baby without needing fertility treatment. Most couples get pregnant within 6 months of trying to conceive, and 85% are pregnant within one year (source).

But if you’ve been having unprotected, regular sex (2-3 times a week) for a year and aren’t pregnant, consider seeing a reproductive endocrinologist (RE). See one after 6 months if you’re over 35. Or if you have a noticeable problem- absent, irregular, or painful periods, endometriosis, or recurrent miscarriages- see an RE sooner (source). Working with a specialist can really help!

Health education PSA over. Back to discussing my broken ovaries. 🙂

My blood tests confirmed my doctor’s suspicions: I do not ovulate even though I now get a regular period. Boo PCOS 😦

I have to take birth control pills for one to two months to calm down my hyperactive ovaries. (I know this sounds backwards. But the hormones in the pill essentially “shut off” my ovaries so they’ll respond better when they’re turned back on with fertility drugs). Then I’ll start Clomid and an hCG shot and pray it makes me ovulate, and that sperm meets that egg.

Since I’ll be on the pill for 1-2 months, I don’t see a reason to cut back on exercise just yet. I could probably even train for the National Marathon… but I don’t think I’m going to. Right now, I’ll plan on running the half. My doctor told me it’s fine to maintain my fitness level, and I agree. But I wouldn’t feel comfortable increasing it.

So, I’m playing the waiting game as the pills work their way through my system. I’m counting on my old distractions to get me through this time without going crazy: running and hanging with my friends.

I tried to do 5 miles of speedwork today but my legs were not in the mood. Still, I was pleased with my a little speedier than usual pace.

The I met up with Caitlin, Nicole, Kayla at the oh-so-delicious Cowfish for dinner. The food was excellent. The company was still far better 🙂

How do you distract yourself to keep from obsessing over certain things? Or is this just me? Maybe normal people’s brains aren’t always preoccupied with something!

Here we go again

In September 2009, I went off birth control pills because my hubby and I wanted a baby.

132 days went by without a period. My doctor started me on a drug to induce ovulation (Clomid) to see if that helped. After 3 “cycles”, it never worked.

The 3 months I was on Clomid was one of the worst times of my life. Not only was my body failing me. (This was incredibly hard to swallow since my passion and career is health.) But drugs that were invented for the sole purpose of making women ovulate weren’t working on me. Couple this with the fact that it was the most awful time of the year and it’s no surprise I was miserable.

(You can read a bit more about my fertility issues here and here.)

There was only one cure for my state of mind: to run. And run I did. I trained hard and left my feelings out on the pavement. If my body wasn’t going to work to give me a baby, I was going to punish it with mile repeats, tempo, and long runs.

The punishment paid off. In 2010, I PR’d in every distance I ran. I even took up traithloning and yoga.

The distraction of training (and making so many new friends in Charlotte) was enough to put baby-making on the backburner. I kept signing up for races and told my husband we’d revisit my fertility issues sometime in 2011.

Then in September, during the height of marathon training no less, my period showed up. Ironically, it’s arrived every 33 days since then like clockwork.

After celebrating my return to womanhood, my husband I were left with a very real debate: Do we try to get pregnant? Or do we try to prevent pregnancy for a few more months?

Everyone said to “just see what happens”. Haha. Anyone who’s ever been through infertility knows it’s really impossible to “just see what happens”. You know your signs of fertility and you’re either trying to get knocked up or you’re not. There is not a gray area in infertility.

But I needed a gray area. I didn’t really know if I wanted to get pregnant then. I had big race plans for 2011. In my perfect world, I’d get knocked up sometime in May or June 2011 so I could complete a spring marathon, a relay, and a half Ironman.

My husband thought I was being a fool (what else is new? 😉 ). Shouldn’t I have learned in the past year that I do not have the luxury to control my fertility?

I pretended not to hear him. I was not ready to give up my big race dreams because I might get pregnant.

So I did what everyone told me: I’d “just see what happens” and resume medical help for infertility after my races in May. Apparently in my mind “seeing what happens” included attacking my husband when I thought I was ovulating…

  • I didn’t think I was pregnant the first month, so it was no surprise when my period came. It still hurt.
  • The second month, I thought there was a slim chance I was knocked up. That didn’t stop me from balling for days once my period came.
  • The third month, I knew I was pregnant. We had more than covered our bases, I had symptoms, and a feeling. But I was wrong. I’m completely heart-broken.

My emotions the past few months have shown me that there’s only one thing I want right now and that’s not PRs or race accomplishments. I want to be a mommy. And no crazy training regimen is going to distract me from that this time around.

It’s odd how quickly I went from run, run, run to baby, baby, baby. But training and racing was only meant to serve as a temporary distraction.

My lack of patience and emotions drove me to my infertility doctor today. I couldn’t wait until May. And I’m glad I didn’t. My doctor is pretty sure that I’ve been having anovulatory cycles, meaning I don’t ovulate. So it’s impossible for me to get pregnant without medical help no matter how hard we try. (I’m still waiting on test results to confirm this.)

My doctor suggested Clomid again to spark ovulation. This time I’d be closely monitored during my cycle to see if it’s working. (Last year, my regular Ob/Gyn prescribed Clomid without monitoring me. I’m now working with a fertility specialist.)

I still have those spring race plans. I’m supposed to run the full National Marathon on March 26 with a group of friends (I’ll still go to the event to hang out no matter what 🙂 ). My doctor reassured me that my training has nothing to do with my fertility problems. I’m not completely convinced though. I do know that cutting back on my running won’t hurt my fertility. So that may be what I do. And that’s, shockingly, more than ok with me.

After all, being a spectator is almost as much fun as participating in a race yourself.

Have you ever had to give up or cut back on running, or something else you enjoyed? Was it hard?

Happy new year, friends! I cannot believe it’s 2011. I hope your year is filled with health and happiness 🙂

Yesterday, I looked over my 2010 training journal and noticed something. I ran 10 miles the first day of ‘10.

So what do you think I did today?

Yup. I ran an enjoyable 11 mi to kick off ‘11 at an 8:32 pace.

It was 55 degrees and humid today. I definitely did not run my 10 miles last 1/1 in a t-shirt and shorts.

I like my new, cheesy tradition. Granted, it cannot last very long but I’ll adapt as needed. In another decade, I may not be up for running 21 miles. But I could see myself running for 21 minutes, biking 21 miles, or swimming 2100 meters. It’s my tradition so I can do what I want 🙂

Speaking of swimming, I know I said I’m anti-resolution and big goals, but I have a goal for the month of January: to swim 1 mile (1600m).

I don’t like swimming more than a half hour. After a 30 minute stint, the chlorine smell gets to me, I can really feel the tightness of my goggles, and I start getting dizzy from all of the water in my ears.

Right now, I can swim about 1300m in 30 minutes so that’s usually what I do during a pool workout. Twice I’ve swam 1400m but I was feeling especially badass on those days and that rarely happens during a swim.

Physically, I’m sure I can swim a whole mile. I just need to get over that 30 minute mental hurdle. That, or I can just get faster… which I have no clue how to do in the water!

This guy knows how to swim well. Maybe he’ll give me lessons?

Does anyone have any January goals? What about New Year’s traditions? It’s not to late to do my 11 in ‘11. Go run 11 miles or 11 minutes. Do 11 push-ups or squats. Heck, eat 11 cookies. After all, it’s your tradition so do whatever you want 😉

It’s New Year’s time! (I totally said that like t-shirt tiiiiiiime in my head 😉 ).

New Year’s means resolutions and goal setting for most of us. But for me, that usually means resolutions and goals that fail.

Let’s revisit last New Year’s eve, shall we?

Me: Do you have any resolutions or goals for 2010, husband?

Him: No.

Me: None?

Him: Nothing major.

Me: Well, what is it?

Him: That we get pregnant. 2010 will definitely be the year we get pregnant, and maybe even have a baby. But I know that’s going to happen so it’s not really a goal.

Mmmhmmm. That’s pretty much what happens to me every year I make a resolution or a big goal. I fail 😦

(Side note: If hubby tries to say something like this again this year, I fear for his safety 😉 )

I approach each New Year’s goal-less. This is kind of depressing when everyone else is making these sweeping life changes. The other thing that gets me down is it’s about to be January and February.

I loathe January and February. So much. If your birthday is in one of those two months, I promise it’s nothing personal. It’s just so dark, cold, the holidays are over, wah, wah, wah. I hate these months so much that I planned a cruise for early March as a present to myself for surviving another Jan and Feb.

So how do I survive the depressing time that is the turn of the year? I look back instead of looking ahead.

Each year, I make a list of all I accomplished in that year. I tape that list to my desk for January and February and look at it every time I feel down. It reminds me that I’m not a loser and I have accomplished things.

The list doesn’t just have to include positive things. I also include some negatives because I believe everything happens so you can learn something from it. For example, my DNF sucked and was definitely a 2010 low point. But without it, I may not have learned I was lactose intolerant. Not a fun diagnosis, but I feel monumentally better.

The 2010 list

  • I participated in 18 races.

  • I coached Girls on the Run for two seasons.

  • I met wonderful Charlotte friends!

  • And friends who are just as exciting from all over the country.

  • I started blogging 🙂
  • I had surgery to kill my endometriosis.
  • My period came back!
  • I started getting treatment for infertility.
  • I cheered on my husband as he became an Ironman.

  • I hosted Christmas for the first time.
  • I met the love of my life for the second time and finally scored a picture with him 😉

  • I found out I can, in fact, survive without pizza, yogurt, and ice cream.

I cannot wait to see what 2011 has in store for me 🙂

How will you remember 2010?

The holidays unplugged

I hope everyone is having a magical holiday season!

I sure did. My parents and brother came from NJ to spend a long weekend here, and my in-laws came over for Christmas dinner as well.

We even had a white Christmas… kind of. It started snowing Christmas night and Sunday morning we woke up to a few inches of snow.

Unfortunately, that lovely storm left almost 3 feet in NJ. My parents miraculously made it back this afternoon on one of the only flights. I was supposed to fly out today too so I could spend New Year’s with my BFFs. The flight cancelations are so ridiculous that I cannot make it out until New Year’s Day. So I canceled my trip since I’d miss my fun New Year’s plans 😦 I am so bummed, but I guess there are worse things than spending New Year’s with my husband 😉

On Christmas morning my phone decided not to turn on (it’s still not fixed. I’ll spare you the details but hopefully I’ll be up and running tomorrow). With the hustle and bustle of hosting the holiday, I never reached for my computer. I was completely unplugged for 3 days and it was glorious. The last time I did that was on a cruise we took in September 2009. I stare at my computer for work for 9 hours each weekday and I’m seriously addicted to my blackberry. It was stressful being disconnected at first, but then I loved it. It was amazing to chat with my family and play cards(!) without hearing my phone buzz. I’m going to try to unplug a bit more often because it was such a treat 🙂

That being said, I’m very eager to get back into my routine. I feel relaxed for the first time in a long time and am actually looking forward to resuming work tomorrow. I also cannot wait to catch up with blog reading 🙂

Running has been sporadic to say the least. And cookie consuming has been monumental. I’m more than ready to get back into my regular workout routine as well 😉

Do you ever unplug? Do you find it stressful or refreshing?