I just had my best 2 weeks of training…and I currently have a broken foot and shingles. Whaaaat?! More on that in a minute.
First – I hope you had an amazing fall! Mine was a bit of a rollercoaster. I decided to focus on connection. You may have seen in my last few newsletters, but I did a lot of speaking. I spoke at the largest VegFest in N. America – Toronto VegFest as well as at the Okanagan Health Forum on Creating Positive Change and Plant-based Athlete Tips. I also went to Michigan and spoke at Western Michigan University on how life lessons from engineering made me a better mountain biker and entrepreneur. I also went to Utah and worked on a project to suss out the best winter mountain bike getaways in the area. I did ONE race and it was a 10km running race. Sheesh, that sounds like a lot?!
A common theme that I can attribute my success in every thing I do is resilience. Which brings me to today. After I got home, we also brought home our little fur bundle- our adorable young puppy, Baxter. I was just finishing up antibiotics from a gnarly sinus infection I picked up while traveling. I admit- I was burnt out, exhausted, and ready to just be home. (I’ll be writing a blog post specifically on burn-out for my next post/newsletter).
And then just a few days later, I was carrying him out to go to the bathroom and CRACK. My clog rolled to the outside hard and I howled in pain. I couldn’t walk for the rest of the day or put weight on it for the days that followed. An x-ray confirmed a non-displaced fractured 5th metatarsal at the base. I considered myself lucky- Non-displaced meant no surgery needed, I didn’t have to cast it, and I could still walk on it gently if I wore a boot. I asked if I could still ride. My family doc and radiologist both said that I could as long as it wasn’t painful and recommended that I avoid mountain biking.
Funny how the threat of something being taken away from you makes you appreciate it so much more. I already planned to be home for a month with Baxter, planned to get back into riding if I felt like it, and planned to recover from a year where I admittedly tried to give Wonder Woman a run for money and bit off more than I could chew (in terms of business projects and trying to be a full time professional racer.).
Then something wonderful happened. My motivation to ride came back in full force. Determined to get back lost fitness, I started riding again. I was so burnt out this year that I didn’t get much joy out of riding. I felt tired on my bike all the time, I was just exhausted from trying to do it all. I found joy in riding the trainer. I found joy in its simplicity. I found joy because I thought I wouldn’t be able to ride for 6 weeks.
Healing is going well – it’s been about 3 weeks and I had a couple of amazing weeks using TrainerRoad and I watched my fitness bounce back quickly. (Here are my rides if you’re curious and want to follow– I’m all about sweet spot for the type of racing I do. I am very transparent with my training, HR, power numbers, etc.). My stress levels were lower than they had been in a long time. I intentionally reduced the number of hours spent working in exchange for teaching Baxter the rules of the house (haha, yes, it’s a challenge) and spending time laughing at his antics. I was spending more time with friends and family, and even *gasp* talking on the phone to people for fun! My house was clean and organized for once because I wasn’t living out of my suitcase.
And then my right shoulder blade started and right chest started itching. I didn’t see anything visible but they were itching like crazy. I had done some core work on our rug (where we also play with Baxter) and thought maybe there was something in the carpet I was allergic to. I made a blend of almond and tea tree oil and rubbed it on the itchy spots. The next day, a bright red rash striped my back and a little on my chest. “Wow, am I allergic to tea tree oil… or is this shingles?” I didn’t really know much about shingles except I know it’s an adult rash related to chicken pox. I went to the doc (my doc had been seeing a lot of me in the last few weeks so of course I made a joke about how much I missed her). And yep, it was shingles. Shingles is often brought on from chronic stress. It can be from years of stress. What causes me the most stress? Everything about the preparation, planning, packing/unpacking, loss of routine, loss of anything steady from travel. And I travel several times a month.
I was surprised because this is the least stressed I have felt in a long time. However, stress is cumulative. It builds up over years and even if you don’t feel stressed mentally, your body still internalizes it. Really, I got off easy with the shingles. It’s a little uncomfortable – sure. But a week later, and it’s healing and going away quickly.
I’m glad I broke my foot and got shingles because it helped me slow down. I’m glad I got a puppy who demands a lot my time (that was the point!). I’m glad I had all these things happen because it brought my motivation back to ride and my excitement to build fitness with a vengeance. And damn, it is a good reminder to slow the f*ck down. I admit, the excitement junkie in me only slows down when I’m hurt or sick… and while my drive to hustle and work insanely hard sounds cool, but really – it’s not. It crushes me over time.
I’ve done so much mental work on being tough, working hard, dealing with pain and pushing through discomfort, trying for big audacious goals… but for now? My next internal work to cultivate more mental toughness is the opposite of what you might think. Being brave enough to slow things down… just a little. And try to feel like I am enough, even if I do less.
Have a great week!