As athletes we typically view our health in terms of a healthy body composition based on consistent injury-free training, a good diet and proper fuelling during and post workouts. Rarely do we factor in mental health. Since my last post I have been, for the most part, quite physically healthy. Multiple doctors, cardiologists, physiologists, physiologists, etc. all told me this and multiple tests have confirmed it. That said I haven’t always felt healthy. The whole health scare got me good and made me feel fragile. There is something about seeing your heart ticking away on a computer screen that makes you realize just how fragile life is. That, plus apparently I had (and continue to have) an inner ear infection that really upsets the balance. I just felt off and for the most part it was all in my head. Any time I felt a tightness or a twinge it cause me to panic. I was hyper-aware of EVERYTHING and it was all consuming. It sucked to put it mildly.
For the past 5 weeks I have been anxious, moody and depressed and these anxiety attacks seemed to come on without warning or reason. They’ve happened while I’ve been out for dinner, at work, while driving or at home relaxing. (Having an anxiety attack while driving is not a good situation. In one instance I was driving down Highway 1 at 100km/hour+ when all of a sudden my heart rate spiked, my chest tightened and both hands went tingly… I thought I was dying and I totally panicked! …I was able to get off the highway, do some deep breathing and in the end it was totally fine)
During this whole time I have been able to keep up with some pretty decent training, but I’ve been cautious and hesitant to really give it 100% (I wonder why?). But slowly things have come around and I am so thankful for the team I have around me. Everyone from my coach, doctor, physio, massage therapist, family and most importantly Rachel, who has had to deal with my craziness day-in-day-out throughout it all, all have been amazing and they have helped me to pull through. This past week I have started to see the light. The anxiety has seemed to pass (I hope) and I feel confident that I can get back to pushing my body in training. As a result, I finally feel like I can get back preparing for a fast approaching track season. Unfortunately I have missed the indoor season, but I am healthy and excited to get back to work in earnest and chase the big goals I have set out for myself.
In order to get up to speed (pun-intended), a great little group is heading up to Flagstaff, Arizona at the end of March for a good dose of altitude training before the outdoor track season gets going. I’m excited to hook up with my fellow steeplechasers Alex (Genest) and Taylor (Milne) for some great training and a little fun. Training with Alex and Taylor is great, they are not only some fast dudes, but they are some of my best buds. It’s a great situation and Flagstaff is an awesome training environment. It reminds me of my university days back in good old Eugene, Oregon. Flagstaff, like Eugene, is a simple college town where everything seems to revolve around being a runner and training. Whether you’re hammering away out on the trails or sipping back a coffee at Macy’s you’re bound to bump into some fellow runners. And they come from all over, Belgium, England, Australia, Russia… everyone is there and everyone has the same idea; get up high and do tons of work. It’s great and I can’t wait to get back up there!
I just want to finish off by saying thank you to everyone that sent me their kind words after my last post. It was great to hear from so many people, many who have dealt with similar issues themselves. This was great to hear and really helped put things in perspective. Thanks!