It has been a very long time since I’ve felt like this… Physically unfit. As an athlete, I’ve gotten used to (perhaps taken for granted) that I could expect my body to respond to the demands I place on it. It used to be that when I wanted to ride my bike hard, I could do it. It used to be that when I wanted to go snowshoe running with the Wednesday night gang, I could do it – I’d be at the back but not off the back walking. It used to be that I could skate ski for three hours with friends and not feel completely destroyed afterwards – now I’m lucky to manage a very slow 90 minutes.
This is hard. Really hard. The feeling that I won’t ever return to the fitness I had is overwhelming. At times these feelings make me want to get out and do more and more. Then at other times, I just want to give in – to sleep in and skip my morning bike ride and TRX work-out, to stay home and read books instead of going snowshoe running, to ignore my skis and forget about the 51 km Gatineau Ski Loppet that I’ve already registered for.
This is new for me. I’ve been through a lot over the years dealing with being sick, recovering and then getting sick again. But never before have I been wiped out like this before. I have a new appreciation for what my body can and cannot do. The big problem is that I really don’t want to believe that I’m really coming off-the-couch with zero fitness – that I have to start from a place I can’t really remember ever being at.
I need to slow down. To ride at a lower wattage. To walk the big hills and let the others go when my breathing has become wheezing and my head is screaming. To not go for long skis three days in a row (like I planned to do on Friday, Saturday and Sunday).
I need to take a deep breath and remember.
Remember that only a few weeks ago, I would have given anything to just be outside with my friends – regardless of how slow and out-of-shape I felt. I need to remember that a few weeks ago, I couldn’t get through the day without a nap and that just walking around the block was a big deal. Perspective – it does a person a lot of good.
The good news is that I can only get better. The trick being to not push it too hard too soon. A good friend said to me last night “you need to take it slowly. You don’t want to get sick again.” This hit home really hard. She’s right. I do need to take it slowly – I’d rather be moving slowly than not moving at all.