(ICYMI, here’s what happened in the last episode.)
Credit goes to my Coach for the term “Stabilization September”. I’m working on regaining core strength, balance, and learning to trust my literal heart again. Occasionally the chest or arm pains rise again and my left hand still feels a little wonky-numb, but the ticker looks strong according the Cardiologist, so let’s go!
As much as I enjoyed my easy strolls and casual bike rides for a time, I’m thrilled to report that I’ve been able to graduate to more “real” workouts. The sting of sweat in my eyes, the taste of salt, and the afterglow of well-earned recovery are welcome, familiar, comforting.
Progress has been steady. Strength training is key to rebuilding so much lost muscle. We started with purely functional strength. As of the end of this week, I was able to add some heavier weight, which felt so good.
My basic cadence of training right now is strength training 2-3x per week, some form of cycling 3x per week, and one longer walk/run based on how I’m feeling. If my chest gets tight or is painful in any way, I back it off. But mostly, that’s not happening during any workout now. Any tightness I feel is almost always during restful times. I can only describe it as a heightened awareness that my heart is in my body, which is not something a person should really be aware of at rest. *Shoulder shrug.
Thanks to a push from some great friends and training partners, I finally tried a thing. A thing my Coach has literally been telling me for YEARS to do. I tried cyclo-cross. Now–for a person with a fairly sketchy history of staying upright on a bike, climbing grassy, somewhat muddy mounds and navigating tight turns was pretty intimidating. But it’s 2020 and as they say, here we are, so I did it. And it was fun! I fell a couple of times early on but started to get the hang of it and pulled off some moves I didn’t know I had in me. When falls do happen, the landings are reasonably soft and slow. I found a sport where falling off your bike is not only acceptable, it’s expected and pretty safe! How about that?
My heart rate definitely spiked on some of the obstacles, but it came back down with no concerns. This kind of interval training is going to be good for getting my cardio fitness back. I played it smart and stopped at a point that didn’t feel like I did “enough”. It was scary because it was new, but also peaceful…and free of cars. I made the right choice stopping when I did. I still fatigue really quickly and needed a good nap after. My body was far more sore than I anticipated.
I had borrowed my husband’s gravel bike for this maiden voyage, but have already started the process of looking for my own that fits me properly. Because, as everyone knows, the proper formula for determining the number of bikes one needs is “N+1”. I can’t wait to see what I get!
Today, I completed my farthest walk/run since getting sick and can report I was able to actually run a fair amount of the time without any pain in my chest. My body however was looking up at my brain asking, “what on earth are we doing right now?” My brain responded with, “it’s ok, you’ll remember soon; just keep moving forward”.
As I wrap up this update, it seems prudent to re-state (you know, for those in the back…) one very important point. I’m sharing this journey not because my experience is out of the ordinary. It is quite the opposite. There are hundreds of thousands of people around the world dealing with their own version of this story who choose not to talk about it openly, and that’s ok. My search for help led me to an online support group for those who have or had COVID-19, and there are some serious warriors out there dealing with far more than I can even imagine. I’m choosing to document my version to raise awareness on behalf of us all.
We ALL want more normal. Try something new for your mental and physical health. Choose science, not quackery. Spread love, not lies. Stay strong.
I’ll now get on my little bicycle and ride away, until next time.