The trick is to keep breathing (sort of)

Good news, everyone! I can train again! I’ve been let off the leash of medical uncertainty and released into the wilds of ‘you can train with due care’, and I can’t wait to run round and chase some PB rabbits and refuse to come back when called. (It takes skill to belabour a metaphor like that. Admire my handiwork, please.) The due care caveat is in place because actually the medical uncertainty is still there to some extent, but it has been significantly dwarfed by the certainty that I’m not going to have a heart attack.

Points if you can name the film - which we also watched at the PCC all-nighter (see below). See how I link my subjects seamlessly using illustrations?
Points if you can name the film – which we also watched at the PCC all-nighter (see below). See how I link my subjects seamlessly using illustrations?

To keep this short(ish) and sweet: the triad of potential problems was heart, lungs and thyroid.

  • My heart appears to be healthy, excepting the fast beating, the presence of which was confirmed by the ECG.
  • I’ve said before that I never really noticed a problem with my breathing – this is something my GP chased up. Despite an early suggestion of asthma, my lungs and general breathing apparatus is, according to the respiratory specialist, in very, very good shape. In fact, I breathe too well. ‘You take in more oxygen than you need when you’re exerting yourself, and then don’t know how to use it. So you hyperventilate and a cycle ensues. If you get anxious when it happens, that makes it worse.’ Apparently this is more common than you’d think with newish athletes. The specialist doc reckoned that as it is something I’ve only noticed when I’m doing sport, it’s not anxiety. So I’m off to a respiratory physio (that’s actually a thing. Don’t laugh) to teach me to breathe properly. Yes, I’m so dumb I don’t know how to breathe. If I was doing this without realising it, it may be affecting the heart. Side note: since the lung function tests, I can now hold a long note for a lot longer than I could.
  • Ah, the thyroid. I’m pretty sure this bad boy is what’s caused all the hoo-ha. My GP tells me that my heart rate should be slow if my thyroid is underactive – but since it’s been flailing all over the place, who knows? On first test, it was overactive. Then the crucial numbers showed it being underactive (should have been 5.5, but instead 47. Then 22.) At the last test, it seemed to be correcting itself, back to 7.2. So, I’m to take another blood test in six weeks to see if it’s back to normal. If it is, we monitor it to make sure it stays there. If it’s not, I’m off to an endocrinologist.

So, with everything being done that can be and no collapse imminent, I am back in the game! (And have been for a week – during which I have run once and cycled not at all. Which is a Bad Thing, because now I am, for sure (barring injury) doing the ITU sprint tri in September, and I’m really, really excited about it.)

But wait, wait! I have excuses for the not-training! Notice how I’m late with this entry, as well? This weekend my writing AND training mojo were derailed by the incredibly beautiful weather ,or incredibly uncomfortable weather, depending on your point of view. Mine varies depending on where I am and what I’m doing. They were also derailed by visiting family and actually having a weekend full of stuff to do (Amanda Palmer gig (please to see this – NSFW); the PCC six-film Clique Chic all-nighter in costumes and pyjamas; vintage clothes shops; paddling pool picnics. That kind of thing). So much stuff, in fact, that when I finally could have sat down and started writing or gone out running, I chose to pass out on the sofa and sleep instead.

I’m somewhat scared to go back to training proper, as well, so maybe I’m putting it off. I know that it’s pretty much a case of back-to-square-one at this point, and however much I tell myself to return to the ‘just get round it’ mentality for the sprint tri, it’s still disconcerting to feel so… crap at it all. I did 5k on the day I was given the green light and it hurt like hell and was excruciatingly slow. But I still really enjoyed it.

I like how when I workout, my brain makes drugs.
I’m so pleased that today you get TWO pictures with the words! A veritable graphic novel!

Does anyone think it’s more difficult to return to something than learn it from scratch? I feel an awful lot like I did when I was starting out, fitness-wise, and I know I’m going to get frustrated by training for the next few weeks. It was far better when every small improvement was a first-time triumph – but at least I get to go through this a second time. And, hopefully, courtesy of muscle memory and officially excellent lungs, it won’t take as long for me to get there this time .

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