CHRONIC FATIGUE – EXERCISE MINDSET

April 30, 2009 at 11:13 am Leave a comment

Continuing on from my last blog on exercise, one of the biggest battles I had to face with chronic fatigue was not in my physical body, but in my mind. You develop this energy-poverty mindset. Have you heard of the poverty mindset that low income earners can get stuck in? This is the same idea, but the poverty arises from a lack of energy rather than a lack of money. You get to know that you don’t have enough energy. You start to try and hoard it, to conserve it, to retain it in case you need it. It’s a dreadful feeling to hit that physical wall – to totally run out of energy before you’ve run out of day, to have nothing with which you can keep going to do the things you need to do (eg care for the family). So you begin to try and live within the constraints of the small amount of energy you have. You don’t want to do too much in case you over-step the mark. If you do a bit more, you are fearful of what the consequences will be. Will you be so sore the next day that you regret it? If you do too much today, will you be unable to do anything tomorrow? Do you see what I mean?

As I began to recover, I found myself unwilling to stretch myself, to try new things, to achieve more. What helped me greatly was to set a goal and work (very gradually) towards achieving that goal. For example, my first goal in 2007 was to do the Great Bike Ride, a 53 km trip around the Swan River from Perth to Fremantle and back to Perth. I had done a bit of bike riding over the years, but my maximum was about 15 kilometres. To think of riding 53 kilometres was a big thing for me. But I got a riding buddy and I started off at the 15 kilometre mark and increased it gradually week by week until I had ridden 60 kilometres. Unfortunately, the week before the event I got a cold and the doctor advised me not to ride. I was so determined – so much effort had gone into preparing for the ride over a long period of time and I was not going to miss out on the opportunity to achieve what I had set out to do. I did the ride in about 2 hours 33 minutes, which was a good time for me. It did set me back health wise – as the doctor predicted I was sick with the flu for two weeks after that. But what it did for me mentally was worth it. I had never conceived of myself as being able to ride 53 kilometres, but I did it. I then began to wonder – what else is there that I have never thought I would be able to do that might actually be possible for me?

My next goal was the “City to Surf” fun run. I don’t know what possessed me to think of this, as I had never run before in my life and I was over 50, but I started at the end of April and the run was at the end of August 2008. I began by walking and doing 10 steps of running after every 30 walking steps, then increasing the number of running steps until I could do a gentle jog for 10 minutes or so. Then I enrolled in an exercise class which included some cardio work and I very gradually built up. Some physical mechanical problems arose due to my poor running style and lack of good running shoes. I worked with a physiotherapist to address these problems. I was not able to do the 12 k run but I did the 4 k run and came 8th in my age group with a time of 29 minutes.

In 2008 I did the Great Bike Ride again, this time in 2 hours and 3 minutes (I cut 30 minutes off my previous time!). Then I was on a roll. I enrolled in a triathlon training course adding swimming to the mix, and came first in my age group and 12th overall. Swimming was my weak link – I hadn’t swum since I was at primary school over 40 years ago!

Now I feel like I can accomplish anything I want to do. I completed a 567 km bike ride around the very hilly south west in March-April this year and I’m going to try for the 12 km City to Surf fun run in August. What time will I achieve in the Great Bike Ride this year? I’ll let you know!!! Next year I will do another triathlon.

As I have set and achieved each goal it has proved my wellness to me. I am not just back to where I was before I got chronic fatigue – I’m much better than that! I am fitter now than I was in my 20s and 30s. And I now believe that there is much more I can accomplish.

I still find myself tending to hold back just a bit, to be unwilling to go all out, to totally expend my energy in case I hit that wall again. That was such an awful feeling, I never want to go back there. In my training sessions I will start off at an easy pace and maintain that until the final 10 or 15 minutes. Once I know that I have just about made the distance then I am willing to take that risk of going all out for a short while. I hope that as I develop confidence over time I will hold myself back less and less and so I will accomplish more and more. Do you see how my biggest battle is in my mind rather than in my body?

As I mentioned in my previous blog on exercise, a central factor in my being able to make progress with the exercise has been the use of a non-sugar laden energy drink (EMPACT) to extend my stamina while doing workouts, and a post-exercise recovery aid (SPORT). Mentally, this boosted me up and made me more willing to go for it during my exercise sessions because:

1 I believe the EMPACT sports drink give me the stamina to last out a tough session; and

2 I know that the SPORT tablets help me recover afterwards without the dreadful “whammy” effect of dreadfully sore muscles.

For more information about these, go to mannapages.com/suzi, click on Browse Products, and choose Performance Nutrition. Or contact me on mobile 0418 189 435 or email suzimorrisblog@gmail.com.

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Entry filed under: Health and wellness. Tags: , , , .

CHRONIC FATIGUE – EXERCISE Half Iron Man Triathlon – Busselton

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