Sunday, November 23, 2008

Speedy Stuff!

Ok, maybe not actually SPEEDY…but compared to my gimpy limits as of late, today’s run was yet another breakthrough! As I mentioned in my last post, despite feeling good enough to run 6m+ daily again, Im trying to limit how fast I increase so I don’t wind up injured all over again. Hence, I only had 3m left for the weekend. Since I have been feeling so great I decided “what the heck, let’s see if I can pick up the pace!”
It turned out very nicely in relative terms. I averaged about 8:30mpm, which isn’t even my marathon pace in a normal state, but I can’t complain considering less than two weeks ago I could barely pull of a proper gait or get under 10mpm without serious pain.

Today’s run also inspired me to continue with limits on the total mileage and increases on the types of workouts I do. Even when I am capable of running 30, 50, 70mpw, I don’ t want to just go out an churn daily 10 milers. I truly love having a short and speedy run! I also think having some of those will be a real asset to my training—improvements and recovery—and perhaps a key to the faster race times I want.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Ups and Downs

First of all, the highlight of my week : I'M RUNNING AGAIN!
And I don't say that or take it lightly. I've had some trial runs, cautious gimps, all month, but no real "feeling my legs back" dealios. Slow but minor improvement...until this week it was like BAM the floodgates open! Aside from being pretty out of shape [wow did today's 8 miler wear me out!], I feel like my own self. AND I'm loving and appreciating my runs more than ever.
It's a good thing I've had an insane week of work and school to keep my runs in check or I'm not sure I could restrain myself from increasing too quickly.
Which brings me to a question for my running readers: How quickly is appropriate to increase after being injured?
I know the usual standard is to keep it at 10%/week--but what if you'd been running a lot more in the past, and only had lower mileage due to injury?
2 weeks ago I was at 15mpw, last week was 20, and this week is already at 22. I am going to try and keep my run [2 days from now :(] at 3m so I don't go past 25, but i feel like I could go straight to 30 without hurting myself. What should I limit myself to as I get back in my groove?
One thing I know is I won't be training 70+mpw this winter! With everything I've got going on there's no way. I'm hoping to keep it around 50mpw and build more quality into it. It'll be interesting to see what kind of results I get come spring '09.

Quick note on the GI status...
Big fat, F. I hit and held an all time low this week. Literally could not function. I'll spare the details I can't even find words for, but it's been horrendous and survival mode.
Starting yesterday I'm taking things into my own hands again. Trying not to get extreme so I just hurt myself more, but at the same time I've got to do what I can to find out how to cope with whatever's going on. Doctors can't help me if all they can do is give me some powder that obviously made things worse. Someday I'm praying that I'll be blessed with the resources to get real testing and treatment, but until then it's back to the diet drawing board. Right now I'm:
-eliminating soy, lactose, strong spices
-limiting fiber and tricky fruits and veggies [pretty much all besides the starchy types :(]
-stopped taking my iron
-coffee decreases [although it is one thing that helps so I'm not trying to cut it out]
I hope some of this is temporary [especially the iron and nutrient limits], but my priority right now is to heal so i can function, and maybe someday, have a life outside the bathroom and also get to enjoy some of the calories I need so much of!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Another Overdo update...

...or just procrastination method #203 for the day!

Seriously though, I do want to give at least a brief update on things--they're happening so fast I can't keep up these days, much less give a good report, but here's to bullet pointing some highlights:

LOVE the new job as a dietician tech [basically the one who interacts with the patients--educates them, works with the various meal plans and feeding types to make sure they get what they need]. Working in the hospital nutrition deparment couldn't be more interesting to me, and to describe my position sounds like someone making up what they think the perfect thing for me to do would be! I'm learning so much, love the people I work with, and love what I do.
Of course, adjusting is going to take some real work. 10 hour shifts starting at 7-8am means up around 5 to make the bus. This = misery and all around breakdown and emotional catastrophe's in every area of my life if I continue to stay up dinking around and eating past midnight!

School-trying to keep up. One stupid class/lab and of course all my appointments have been on Monday [it's a Mon/Wed class]. Combine that with my rough schedule adjustments and my poor time management and prioritizing skills, and I'm doing good to tend to any schooling business for a mere 10min a day! Of course then when I do that I give myself brownie points fo a bit of productive effort, and let the rest of the day whittle away...oh dear!
I am considering postponing the grad school another year. Partially my own fault for not being on top of my GRE like I should be, but that is one of many pieces that would be more or less "on hold" if I were to put in an application next month. Now that I have a job doing just what I love, I have hopes of continuing to move forward with the next phase in life, and not just stuck in the same rut [+ living at home] for yet another year. Postponing a year would give me a better chance at getting in with more experience, references, and GRE + classes completed. It would also allow me to save more $$ and be at least a bit less in debt--unless Imove out, but in that case I'd have that plus in the living situation.

While not "my ideal," it's definitely been rockin' lately! My energy has increased and my strength continues to gain [although I'm stuck on the pushups!]. On the elliptical I crank out my speed workouts at levels I couldn't push without serious pain a few weeks ago, and I'm running with a "real gait" now-my full recovery loops. Fast? No, but it's running, and it's improving.

I've also found a real little "family" at the gym, almsot like our lil exercise science/student athlete family that I miss so much from Grand Valley. Sure there are annoying people like that girl I talked about in my last post, but there are a whole lot more great people, teammates, and fun going on. In fact, days like today when I'm trying to take a day off between my class days [monday and wednesday] I feel lonely and just want to go see the gang!

With my "plan," I have stopped trying to find my "ideal criteria." Working with my body while using everything I've studied about training specifics, is what allows me to progress at the best of my ability.I'm learning better every day how my body works best. Whether it's taking complete days off between strength sessions, or the fact that I need to run consistently enough to continue improving, I'm learning what my body needs to give me the best results and most out of my triaining. Outside my control is that I am taking extra days off and missing workouts that would benefit me simply because of life. I'll have Thursday and Friday, and while I know most people can do a full time job plus their training, I'm still adjusting to this schedule and job and I know I'll feel better to just relax and call it quits by the time I get off. I do hope that in the future I can do the evening workout thing. Any tips on doing your workout later, especially after a long day, are appreciated!

I put this off until last because it's still a bit of a mess to sort through.
Good news is that when I went to my GI followup she did another round of blood tests, and my ferretin is out of the "abnormal" zone: from <0.5 to 8 in a matter of weeks! I'm still on the low end of the range, but it's headed in the right direction. That applies to my iron levels also--they're still abonormally low, but I've been told that takes time, and as long as I can improve I know I'll get there!
On a more negative note, my blood cell counts [particularly neutrophil] are still low. Haven't had any follow up on that, but it's enough to be concerned and my Dr. thinks I might need treatment from hematology--yet another medical cost I can't afford. :(

In terms of the GI conditions, not a whole lot new, but some possibilities. Without being able to do further testing, it's coming down to dealing with how my system is functioning and what I can do, outside of medical treatment, to improve it. Of course, this is what I've been trying to do for years now and things have only gotten worse. BUT I'm understanding more and more what's going on, and for that reason I hang on to hope for a better quality of life. One thing the GI Dr. did do was give me this powder to drink daily to help my upper colon. Apparently for whatever reason [IBD?] it isn't functioning properly, which is why I'm always "going to the bathroom" but never completely. I'll try not to get to gory, but I basically just deal with the tip of the ice berg, which is worse for me than not going at all [contipation--at least then I just wouldn't go!] or going too much [dirty-D--where at least I'd finally be voided!]. Anyhow, this medication is supposed to help the buildup that is "stuck" absorb water and move through. She assured me it's not a laxative, because I'm terrified of those! I know they can be addicting, and I tend to be very paranoid about any sort of medication.

All this brings me to nutrition. I'm hoping to experiment with real PROGRESS and not do too much extreme restrict this, force that, and then bounce to the other extreme. Ironically, my all or nothing thinking can be my biggest roadblock! This week I'm just going to see how the med-powder works, but also monitor my levels of soy [seems to consistently cause trouble in high levels], trace lactose [which I don't directly take since I know I have an intolerance there], and my levels of fiber and fruit/veggie intake. My guess is it's a matter of finding the ideal level for all of those. Like I seem fine with soy until I eat a major dose, like a cliff bar or over a cup of soy milk. And this last round of cutting out fiber has agan left me more miserable than ever until I had that first high fiber cereal--then suddenly things work at least BETTER. But then I binge on fiber or fruit or whatever, and end up with more problems. Now, how all this works with the new med-powder to help my colon function is a new thing thrown into the equation, which is why for this week [or more if needed] I'm just going to monitor how things go.
From there, my gameplan is to test out different levels of foods, possibly eliminate soy and dairy completely.
If that doesn't work I DO still think I may need to go through with a complete elimination diet to sort through and rebuild to what works for me. IF I DO then I need to be completey prepared, not just for the restricted part, but my system of testing foods and building--otherwise I just get frustrated and give up and binge on everything that was restricted [also likely problem foods] and end up even worse. No more of that! *any suggestions here also appreciated!*
One way or the other I know that I need to find what works for me--just like with the training, I an learn a lot from researching various conditions and experiences, but ultimately I can't just take someone else's "solved my IBS/Celiac's/whatever misery" diet and assume it will do the same for me. I've got to find out what my body will take and what it won't. Only then can I really get the value from the nutrition habits I strive to achieve, and the benefits that can results from them.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Misunderstood and Alone

It' been a tough fight to say the least, determined to overcome the odds and physical barriers and master my health [more or less without medical aid, for that matter] hasn't been tough enough, particularly lately without my beloved running and the 4000 calorie diet on a digestive system that turns itself inside out on me...
But I've been doing it, not perfectly, but at the very least I've heald strong on my ridiculously high intake [considering I should easily gain on a 2000-something diet] and actually managed to gain for 3 weeks consistently so far. I've also seen progress in my strength, and even my pelvis seems to be healing, all be it not allowing me to run much just yet.

Then days like today come along, and not only is it harder than ever to hold the fight [so much going on + extra bad GI issues]....but the accusations and judgements, which I know are ut there, become manifest--just in time to rub salt in my battle wounds.

This one girl is always pestering me about my weight. At first I thought she was just concerned, but that quickly changed. Apparently she used to have an eating disorder and hence is convinced that can be the only thing going on. She flatout called me a liar today, said she knew I was starving myself and in denial and went on and on and ended with "when you're reading to talk I'm here." [yeah right]
I want to point out that I do NOT look down on those struggling with eating disorders. I think that in general they are some of the people with the most quality, personality, and inner strength [especially once recovering in their own significant battles] on the planet-no joke.
The thing with this isn't that I'm hurt to being "labeled" wrong, it's more so the slap in the face after everything I've done. I mean really it doesn't matter if I eat 1500 calories or 4000--the point is I've got to do what I need to be healthy. But it hurts to have to fight so hard [it would take a lot with working organs to consistently eat that much!] and then have someone accuse me of just the opposite.
And I wish I COULD talk to someone about my struggles. But someone who understands or at the very least is open to let me be who I am, as contradictory as my situation is.
I don't understand it myself, how can I expect anyone else to?
But then...does the fact that it doesn't make logical sense have to mean everything I've done is a joke?

Ok, I'm starting to cry again so I'm going to stop there...sorry to whine again, but I had to get it out somewhere/how...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

November Begins...

I hesitate to post because [once again] I have no idea where to begin or even how to sum things up. Nonetheless, I want to update as November begins [and I have big plans for it and the rest of this year!], and before a crazy week kicks in [training for my new job working in the nutrition department at the hospital! ….and school midterm stuff –YUCK!] I’ll start by summing up the good/bad:

The good:
>My pelvis is feeling so good these days that I continuously forget I’m injured! I don’t gimp around or walk carefully, and in my strength training class I have to consciously make myself go easy on the legs because the exercises don’t cause any pain!
>I am getting stronger way faster than I new possible. Each week when I hit the lifting routine [I have two different routines I do on my own] whatever weights and reps I did last week feels like nothing! And it keep happening every week!
Also, I can cross train at progressively harder resistances on the same speed.
>These last two weeks I’ve managed to overcome my stomach ailments and malabsorption issues PLUS a lot of getting sick and taking a mega laxative for the biopsy/endoscopy…
...and gain [+ hold strong] a real pound!
I know it seems like nothing, but I haven’t really held on to weight gain in ages, and with everything going on I expected to be fighting a loss—even my mom warned me about how much weight I’d lose through the procedure. …or not—HAH!
>While I have a lot of work to do on my diet, it has improved dramatically. I eat 500-1000 cals more than I did when training twice as hard, and for the most part I’ve almost doubled my fat intake [something I need but don’t particularly crave—I’ve always been a carb addict, I swear I grew up on a 99% carb diet!].

The Bad:
>While I seem to be healing in every other way, my trial runs haven’t improved. I still can only carefully gimp out 3m at 11mpm as I gingerly gait in a way that involves the least pulling on the strained pelvis/groin.
>GI issues are still taking a major toll on my life. Not only do they make my fulltime eating job worse, but they hinder what I get out of it. It really messes with my time, my mood and self, and my reputation—all the way to things like my work and school!
>On that note, equally frustrating is the medical dilemma. So much that I need in terms of medical testing and care is off limits since I don’t have insurance. That goes for the injury, GI problems, and treatment for my newly diagnosed severe [alarming according to the Dr. I was able to see] anemia.

So…from there I guess I’ll move on with the latest bit of medical news—the anemia. I was surprised with this, as I always thought to be iron deficient one was chronically tired. If anything, I don’t sleep enough—although I do live a pretty sluggish life I suppose. In any case, it explains a heck of a lot about the frustrating end to the summer. Suddenly not seeming to be able to get my runs to where they used to be, much less at the level they should be with the kind of training I’ve put in.
The good thing about this diagnosis is it’s a straightforward fix [fill the iron deficit] and I can only imagine what I could feel like if I had even just half a normal ferratin level!
The bad is that it’s really challenging to actually make up the deficit, especially one as big as I’ve got, through diet and even a supplement alone. I really need treatment—ideally an IV treatment or two—or at least a prescription…and I don’t have that option due to finances.

So, to sum it up and skip a lot of saga the point here’s the scoop right now

I’ve been diagnosed as severely anemic [ferritin <0.5] with low white blood cell counts, progesterone, and follicle stimulating hormone [whatever that is!]. This, combined with [and most likely contributing too] another round of injuries, has led me to totally reset my training [just starting to run at all again, <10mpw, after a couple weeks off and deferring my marathon].
The physical issues I am dealing with in terms of anemia, being underweight, poor injury resistance, and possibly deteriorating bones, are not as “simple” as they may be for your typical underweight/malnourished runner. That is to say that in my case, eating properly and eating more don’t solve things for me. It take 2-3X the amount that should give someone my age, size, and activity level adequate nutrients, calories, calcium, iron, and so on to be in top physical condition. Yet I have the body of a starved anorexic.
This means that a vital part of long term health and my running future is dependent on getting to the root of this. Yes, I may be able to overcome for yet another come back, increase my iron, and even to force some weight on. But unless I get the underlying cause under control who knows how long that can last for me.

The main problem is what I noted about finances. I already ran myself broke for the original round of tests and have exhausted what Dr. visits were allowed before I have to start choking up $$. The endoscopy flopped [the prep didn’t work] and whiel I hope the biopsy might come up with something, the Dr. really wants me to go through at least a test where you swallow a pill with a camera on it to go through your digestive system. This is really important for identifying irritable bowel diseases. Furthermore, I need real treatment with my iron at the levels I am at—another thing off limits to me.

So anyways, I might as well stop moaning about what I can’t deal with and now focus on what I do plan to do.
Basically, it’s going to come down to lifestyle management.

1. With the GI issues, while I might not necessarily be able to cure a disease [unless it’s Celiac’s], I have learned that one way or the other I will need to find the diet that works with it. This goes with all conditions from gallbladder to diabetes, and mine being digestive is certainly no exception.
Hence, I plan to start a real elimination test/diet buildup that I go through with. I’m not just
winging it randomly this time. I’m preparing, seeking information, and setting myself up for real progress with it.

2. With my training, I absolutely have to keep my eyes on where I want to be vs. what I can do now. Not only to maintain hope, but just plain to make sure I do, or don’t do, what I need to now in order to get there. Right now this might mean cutting out what little running I’m doing altogether again, since it seems to be the one thing not improving. I hate to lose what little taste I get, but ultimately I want to be REALLY running as soon as possible.
I’m looking to 2009, and using 2008 to set up for that: where I want to be then—making sure I’m healthy, solid, and ready to progress to the “extreme running” I love so much—and to do it long term, not only not in shaky territory with my body, but with the kind of performance I really want out of it!

In specifics, here’s November’s Gamplan:

Exactly what I said with #2. I’m giving one more run a shot tomorrow, but then going to do whatever I need to get solid. Next week I plan to work what cross training and strength I can around how I’m doing physically—I am not setting criteria or expectations except that I want to do [or not do] each day what ever will best serve my future.

I am once again going for a solid 4000 kcals a day. Ironically, when I went on this mission last time I was running 80-90mpw, and I couldn’t hold that level. Can I really do it now? We’ll see…I think getting yet another 500+ calories on top of my recent 3500 average will ensure that I continue to overcome whatever I’m not absorbing [or burning off with a metabolism that seems to catch up and fight me on every increase] so that I can maintain the positive energy balance I need to hold—both to gain weight, and weight gain aside [because my Dr. said the energy balance was the key here—not the weight or even % body fat!], to allow my body to give me a period again [vital for my bone health].

In addition to the total cals, I’m continuing to work on increasing my fat, iron, and calcium intake. I’m also cutting out all the “diet treats” I enjoy [since my house is full of it with everyone dieting—hello kashi and light versions!], reducing fiber, and working on eliminating soy.

Next week I plan to start my diet builup/elimination testing. This week I am carefully monitoring possible triggers, although I have to admit the whole GI thing is such a mess right now I know that won’t give me any straight forward answers—which is why I have to clean the slate and rebuild my diet from ground 0, testing one thing at a time, to really find what works for me.

Before then I have time to prepare, set up my testing system, and also go to a celiac/food allergy and intolerance meeting next Saturday which will hopefully give me more insight, guidance, and support.

I’ll need all of the latter I can get! I have tried to do this a number of times but always caved—when I’m trying to force large amounts of food on an uncooperative system, I get sick of guidelines and just want to eat whatever. But in the long run, I know eating will be easier and even enjoyable if I can go through with this—now if only I can remember that when I’m not feeling the umph!

In any case, time to hit the bathroom and hope it’s as painless and quick as possible…then it’s 1000 cals more tonight to get Nov. 1 to 4000!
-->Which brings me to another big goal: TIMING!
I do NOT want the calorie increase to leave to even more late night cramming. It’s hard to eat 4K style all day, especially when trying to cope with GI issues and function…but it all becomes ten times as bad when I have to do this night binge thing.