Last year the major obstacle in my training and consistency was my health, or my lack there of. When I stepped away from Ironman training last June, it was to focus on my health and that continues to be a major priority for me. Sure I want to be fit, fast and competitive from a triathlon standpoint, and I most definitely want to find myself at the starting line of an ironman this coming fall, but I don’t want any of those things to come as the expense of my health. To me that means prioritizing self-care. In regards to this goal I have already encountered a few obstacles. I continue to work through treatment for the mold illness I was diagnosed with in October, along with yeast overgrowth in my gut which can come with it's own share of issues. As a whole I definitely am moving in the right direction in feeling more energetic, balanced, focused and productive, but this is something that cannot be reversed overnight and is going to require patience.
The other major health obstacle I'm currently working through is an injury issue with my right leg, which popped up in mid-December. Aerobically I am feeling awesome in my workouts and my fitness is progressing, but my right leg has been a chronic limiting factor due to weakness, pain and numbness that often extends down into my foot. Mainly while running, often while biking, and specifically aggravated on hills or at higher levels of intensity. While we (the PT hubby and I) originally thought it was fatigue-related and a classic case of "dead butt" syndrome, it has not been as responsive to therapy as we had hoped and this week I began seeking alternative courses of action. Tuesday I was diagnosed with pelvic floor dysfunction and will be going to PT for such, but I also have a consult with a vascular surgeon mid-March to rule out arterial issues. To say this has been a major test of my patience, perseverance and grit is really an understatement. While I VERY much appreciate the fact that I can continue training as tolerated, it has been extremely challenging from a mental perspective knowing that my right leg is simply not functioning the way it should be. Somedays it cooperates, or at least enough for me to "push beyond," and other days it completely shuts down my workout. Needless to say I have my work cut out for me in regards to this goal and I will be continuing to taking things one week at a time.
A major not-so-good theme of last year was anxiety, lots of debilitating and at times very painful anxiety. That made for a lot of mental battles from a training perspective, and particularly me constantly worrying about whether I was training hard enough. Anxiety gets inside your head and makes you question just about everything, and in my case nothing I ever did was good enough. Looking back at last year, this fueled a lot of dissatisfaction with my training particularly and a generally lower enjoyment of the sport, which is why trust is my second major goal for this year. First and foremost by trusting myself when it comes to striking the balance between health and performance while giving myself proper credit for the hard work I put forth. To trust that I am capable and I am enough just as I am. To trust the process along with a willingness to surrender my own plans for the year while trusting that God’s plans are bigger than my own. To put greater faith in my coach and training plan knowing that with patience and consistency that training will pay off just as it has in years past. To overcome the seeds of doubt and carry out said training with a posture of belief. That is what I mean by trust. This is definitely one of those goals that look nice on paper, but is A LOT harder to implement, especially when things are not going according to plan (which in reality is often the case).
One simple truth that I keep coming back to time and time again: I have a choice. Not always regarding circumstances, but most definitely regarding my mindset. I know that mindset is very powerful, and yet it’s the application of that knowledge is often challenging. To be completely honest, this goal is the one I need the greatest reminder of right now. The last week has bred feelings of defeat, frustration, sadness and anger. And while I know it's important to acknowledge those feelings versus suppress, I know they are also not productive or helpful in the long haul. I am trying to remember to breath, trust God, and focus on the positive. There are a lot of things I CAN do in light of those that I can't, somedays I just have to look extra hard for them. Above all things, I want this season to be about the joy that triathlon brings me and finding enjoyment in the process of overcoming challenge, seeking greater fitness, and putting forth my best effort each day until I find myself standing on the starting line of a race once again.
Kristen Chang is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) and triathlete residing in southwest Virginia with her husband and dogs. Follow along as she shares favorite fueling recipes, general wellness and sport nutrition tips and stories from her athletic endeavors.
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