Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Reminders for the road back

Realizing that I haven't posted in a while, I'll bring you up to speed on what's been happening these last few months.  While training for my first Half Ironman, I developed an arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm) which prevented me from training for the race (or anything else) the way I wanted to.  I got through the race, had a blast (even if I didn't race the way I wanted to) and had heart surgery to take care of the arrhythmia.  After the procedure, I was placed on heart drugs - one of the effects of these drugs is that my heart rate never goes above 130, making anything more taxing than brisk walking, or climbing a flight or two of stairs a bit challenging.

I just came back from my post-surgery follow up visit, and got encouraging news from my doctor.  She was encouraged by the condition of my heart, and cleared me to move on to the next phase of recovery.  That means I'll be discontinuing the heart meds that I'm on over the next few days/weeks, and can start getting back to the things I love to do (swimming, biking and running).

Needless to say, this extended period of inactivity has been rough on me (I can count on one hand the number of times I have exercised since my triathlon on September 26th).  I gained weight, lost fitness, and have just generally become less happy with myself...just ask my wife about how pleasant of a person I have become to live with.

Now that I can start training again, I wanted to put a few thoughts in front of myself so that I can keep them top of mind as I start the road back to where I was:

  1. Recovery is going to be gradual.  I lost a lot of fitness in the time I spent recovering.  I can't measure my performance today or set goals today using the yardstick of my performance before I developed my arrhythmia.  I just have to focus on the present, and be happy with the improvements that I know will come in time.
  2. I'm not out of the woods yet.  There's still a good possibility that these issues will resurface once I'm off the meds.  While the prognosis is good, it's not uncommon to need this procedure multiple times (hell, when I had similar issues in 2010, I needed three procedures to fix what was wrong with my heart).  I can't bank on the fact that the doctors got it right the first time, or I'm setting myself up for a hell of a disappointment.
  3. I shouldn't rush myself into goal races.  I have a tendency to aim high, and make aggressive plans.  I really need to keep my expectations in check, and focus on base building for a while.  As of now, I only have two committed races for next year (NYC Tri on July 14th and Marine Corps Marathon on October 27).  I have my eyes on Rev3 Quassy (the Half Iron distance is calling me) and possibly the Gran Fondo NY (I've been bitten by the cycling bug this year), but I'm really apprehensive about having a setback, and having to defer on a lot of things (like I did this year).  If I find myself overcommitting, I'm hoping that my runner/tri friends will help me keep my enthusiasm in check.
Running/Tri friends:  I'm counting on you here.  Please help me stay in tune with these guiding principles, so that I can make this recovery as smooth and painless as possible.  I'm really grateful for the support I got from my runner friends while I was down, and look forward to rejoining you on the roads.  I can't wait to be back!

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