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How Much Is Too Much?

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Friday, August 17, 2012

You know those days where you just can't think of a thing to blog? Yeah...this is NOT one of those days!

This day has just not stopped since I dragged myself out of bed at 6am. It was early and I was sleepy, not looking forward to driving to the YMCA and jumping into a cold pool to swim 22 lengths of the pool...but I did nothing physical yesterday at all, so I really wanted to get a workout in today. And, frankly, 7am is the only time I had available. I just could not let another day slip by where I would not be actively working toward my goals.

I am one of those people that HATES eating breakfast super early in the morning or right after I wake up. My body needs some time, you know? BUT...I was about to do some pretty heavy duty swimming (for me, still a beginner) so I knew I had to give my body some fuel to run on.

Thankfully, I have a whole BUNCH of THESE sitting in my pantry:

I've never tried these before, but MARATHONDAD kept INSISTING that I would love them. Our local grocery had them on sale for $1 and I literally bought every single package because that was such a great deal!

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: Friends, I have found my racing fuel of choice.

They are DELICIOUS!!! And, here I am, thinking...WHY didn't I listen to MARTHONDAD in the first place??? Oy vey.

These little guys have caffeine in them too and, I'll tell you, I could feel the energy boost almost immediately after eating them. In addition, you are supposed to take them with water, so I got 16 oz. in my body before I even started my day. Not too shabby!

OK, so...the swim. This was my second time swimming and I really just wanted to focus on form and technique and, especially, on breathing. It was every bit as tough this time as last time...but I was analyzing things more as I went. I was surprised to realize that swimming is very much like running, in that it is a pretty tough mental game.

This is what happens to me: I start off going down the length of the pool feeling great...totally at ease and relaxed. I still haven't figured out a breathing pattern, so right around the end of the first length, I am starting to get winded. By the time I'm going back down the length, getting ready to finish my lap, my body is so much more tense and I would go so far as to say "flailing". After one lap, I must stop and breathe for at least 30 seconds before I can start another.

In my head, I know that the same is true of swimming as running: SLOW DOWN and RELAX. But...I have not been able to figure out how to make my body go a different speed. And, as I said, I am relaxed until the end of a lap. I believe this is 100% mental. Phsysically, my body should be able to continue. Gosh, isn't that just like running? Except scarier...because when you panic in water, you could drown.

Because of these issues, my tiny bite-sized goal for today was to swim 4 lengths (2 laps) non-stop. I was able to do that...twice...at the end of my swim. That made me feel proud. That pride will make me come back and try again.

Of course, swimming is also NOT the same as running. The biggest difference I've noticed is the delayed onset of exhaustion. When you are running, you feel tired as you run. In the pool, I don't feel particularly tired or sore or anything. I felt a *slight* burning in my arm muscles near the end...but it wasn't horrible. When I get out of the pool, there is a period of about 15 seconds where I feel AWESOME...but then at 20 seconds out, it is like exhaustion pounces on me like a panther. It's the most bizarre feeling I've ever felt. Luckily, it doesn't last long...but, my goodness, it takes a person by surprise! I'm used to feeling RADIANT after a run...not like I suddenly got run over by a truck. Haha.

I am learning so much about fueling my body...by how it feels. This morning, the Powergels were exactly what I needed to get my body going and fuel my swim. I did a sprint triathlon distance in 26 minutes. But, as soon as I was out of that pool and showered, I literally HAD to eat something...immediately. As in, I had not even gotten dressed but I was eating. Thank God I had brought graham crackers with peanut butter with me. I truly believe I could not have gone one more moment without fueling. That's just crazy. I really LOVE getting to know my body in this way.

After swimming, I booked on over to the physical therapist's office. New office. New therapist. This is the location with the water treadmill and pool therapy. Spent one hour with my P/T just going over everything that's ever happened to my body, moving my feet every way possible, walking so he could analyze my gait, etc. Of course, it was a WEALTH of knowledge...specifically about MY body. SO great to learn!

You know what my problem is??? I run differently on one foot than on the other. I suppose I always suspected this because I know I tend to baby my right ankle, whether it be intentional or not. But it is a marked difference. He said my right foot turns out a little and my left foot pronates. This is just awful for the rest of my body. He gave me a pretty motivational speech about how we are going to work on this in the pool, but when I get back on land, my complete and total focus needs to be on nothing but running evenly. My goodness, he's a great therapist. I know I've said it before, but I feel SO blessed to have such an excellent medical team on my side!

Of course, that comes with a price tag. They are pretty much my personal trainers/coaches right now. What would you expect to pay for that? If you said $250 per visit, you'd be correct. I balked at that amount at first, especially when I did some quick math and realized I'd be shelling out a cool $2,000 when all of this is said and done. How much is too much to invest in this half marathon/marathon/triathlon dream? When I really consider what I'm getting for my money, I can honestly say it's the first time I've ever seen a doctor bill that I felt was completely justified. And if you think that this could save me countless injuries and setbacks in the future, it is literally priceless therapy that I'm receiving right now. 14 doctor visits in a span of 8 weeks is a little crazy, but I'll tell you...it made me think long and hard about what I really want.

I want to be an athlete. I AM an athlete. And, more than that, I want to be healthy for life. There are going to be bumps in the road (many caused by my obesity), but I refuse to let obesity win. It has been winning for far too many years. I have wasted too many days, months, years of my life wishing I could do things that are beyond my reach. My appetite and declining health have controlled me for more time than I care to admit. It's time for me to rule my own body and make my own choices. How much work am I willing to put into this?

The answer: as much as it takes.
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