First week of something
Monday: Trail run, 1:19, 5.8 miles, 1,472 feet of climbing. I intended to go for a short ride on Monday, but the afternoon brought winds gusting 40 to 50 miles per hour. One gust was so strong that it nearly knocked me off my feet while I was wheeling the bike outside, so I went back inside and changed into running clothes. The wind stayed fierce, and for most of the run I had a buff pulled over my face amid a swirl of dust clouds. I was even hit in the cheek by a fairly large object, which I didn't see because I was squinting against a 50-mph blast of wind. But I felt great. One of the happier runs I've had in a while.
Tuesday: Trail run, 1:10, 5.4 miles, 895 feet climbing. Beat was working from home and joined my usual one-hour Tuesday run. For all of the amazingness I felt on Monday, my experience was the opposite on Tuesday. By mile four I felt tightness in my chest and throat, which tends to scare me into hyperventilating, and then I was dizzy and had to walk it in. Why? I don't know. There continues to be few patterns in my breathing reactions, and the unpredictability is almost more frustrating than the reaction itself. Long ride, short run, medium hike, windy day, beautiful day, spring, fall, 5,000 feet or 13,000 feet — none of that seems to matter.
Wednesday: Weight lifting at the gym, 0:40. I finally joined a gym after seven months away, in which I didn't miss gym workouts one bit. This first session was mostly about testing my limits. The results were unsurprising — I'm a lot weaker than I was in February. But they're also encouraging, because that means my efforts last winter worked. Wednesday is also the day I go into a clinic for allergy shots. This makes for a strange afternoon. Over the course of three hours I receive 15 injections, and each week the dose increases exponentially. For the second session I endured a 1:1,000 dose, and for the first few hours I felt great — perhaps a response to my suddenly amped up immune system? By the evening I experienced the crash that results in itchiness, congestion, and what I interpret as flu-like weakness for the next ~24 hours.
Friday: Weight lifting at the gym, 0:55. I got back into my normal routine of 12 exercises, 12 reps, 3 sets at embarrassingly low weights. I also started out by testing how many pushups I can do before collapsing ... (four), and this time finished with 20 minutes on a wobble board doing various exercises. Will this help improve my balance? I doubt it. I'm pretty pessimistic right now.
Maybe it was the allergies and maybe it was anxiety, but I felt my throat close up and I launched into tearful, high-pitched gasping. Wendy, the woman who invited me to the run, sat me down and coached me through using my inhaler, because I was in full panic mode and not functioning well. The inhaler worked and she insisted on walking in with me. I'm very grateful for her help and patience. My nightmare about group runs had reared its ugly head. But if I had been alone in the wilderness and something like this happened, it would have been worse.
Sunday: Rest. I admit, I was despondent on Saturday afternoon. My limbs were quaking, I felt nauseated after rehydrating, and then had to rush off to a party at our neighbors,' where I was already late. The party was fun, but it was tough to meet new neighbors and describe past adventures while quietly thinking, "But I'll never be able to do that again." I'm not trying to be melodramatic, but this is the way it feels at times. Still, I woke up feeling much better on Sunday, and took a rest day anyway because this seemed best.
Total: 13:03, 32 miles run, 40.3 miles ride, 8,670 feet climbing.
These training logs are about recording what I did and how I felt, so that's what I'll continue to do. I'll continue to tread lightly, and avoid grassy slopes like the poison I think they are. Although it was a discouraging week, I continue to hold onto optimism that I'll find a way to continue doing the things I love. And I know these reports aren't exactly upbeat. Earlier this week, a reader commented on the seeming self-destruction of all of this. I wanted to post the reply here:
"'Overtraining' is a possible diagnosis, but far from certain. I've seen two different specialists about my symptoms, described in depth my activities over the past 10 years, and suggested my own theory that over-taxing my body during the 2015 Tour Divide brought all of this on. Both doctors seem reasonably certain that my symptoms are more likely related to asthma than the nebulous overtraining syndrome.
Adults do occasionally have incidents that ramp up their allergies. The decisions I made during the Tour Divide may have sparked this, but I can't take that back now. There are still a lot of unknowns, of course. But I lack most of the other symptoms of overtraining — adrenal fatigue, injury, appetite changes, insomnia. My EKG, blood work, etc. is all normal. I'm still fine in my day to day life. Even my exercise symptoms come and go. They usually crop up during shorter efforts. I'd pretty much have to quit altogether, or take up non-cardio exercise.
I complain about breathing a lot here, because this is my outdoors/activity/endurance blog. Whatever issue I have is less of an obstruction in my daily life than I may make it seem. I'm going through a difficult round of allergy shots right now specifically so I can potentially be more comfortable and happy when I'm outdoors. I probably wouldn't choose this treatment otherwise.
"Rest for a few months" is an oft-cited solution, just like going gluten-free, dairy-free, drinking green tea every night, etc. There's just no concrete evidence that any of this will actually help. If it's asthma, it won't. Perhaps you can understand why I'm (as of yet) unwilling to make major lifestyle changes on a vague possibility. I'm not ruling out that my outdoor hobbies are all of the problem and quitting is all of the solution. Just explaining why I'm going this route for now."