39/365 – Planning fitness challenges

I’m not sure whether the milder weather in London over the last few days has made me go into spring mode, but I’ve been full of desire to get outdoors to exercise. As usually happens at this time of year when I realise I’m not as fit as I was before winter’s unwelcome arrival, I’ve started looking at fitness challenges. So after going for my first outdoor run of 2015 yesterday, I found myself mentally signing up for several events today that I plan to actually book when my first ‘paycheque’ lands.

With the first section of the Camino de Santiago already booked for May, I feel the need for some other challenges before and after. There’s nothing like the terror of upcoming events to keep you motivated to get up early on weekend mornings and train hard. It gives me more focus, more drive and less inclination to sit in the pub to the small hours chatting absolute nonsense. Without something to strive for, my exercise regime can start to feel like a chore and then I crave doing silly things like getting back in the boxing ring.

The year of my first duathlon
I’ve always wanted to do a full triathlon, however on my immune suppressing drug, aziathioprine, I’m not allowed to swim in open water due to the strange bugs that can be picked up. So, I’ve decided to sign up to a couple of duathlons instead. The first one is a shorter distance, 4km run, 20km cycle, 4km run, and it’s in April. Then the second one is closer to a full length event, 8km run, 21km cycle, 4km run, in October. I’ve spoken about doing one of these for a couple of years now and in 2015 it’s happening.

Crossing the finish line is going to take a different kind of cross training, even if I’ll sadly be missing out on an all-in-one triathlon suit. I’m really looking forward to Saturday/Sunday morning runs and cycles in the warm spring air.

Finishing what I’ve started
In between then and now, I’m also going to finish what I started last year and cycle from London to Brighton. As part of my fundraising for Myaware in 2014, I thought it would be a great idea to cycle 65miles over night in the BHF Night Ride. After a 12 mile detour, dodgy signposting at a junction, I only made it as far as Gatwick Airport before calling Elaine to come get me (at 4am). I felt if I continued I would lose all muscle control and fall off the bike. This year I’m going to be a bit more sensible and do it during the day.

Finally, all being well, I’m going to try to improve my half marathon time with a race in August. My best ever time is 1 hour 45 mins and this year I’m going to take it as a serious challenge to beat that.

No pain no gain
I know that I’m lucky to be able to do as much without feeling one of worst symptoms of myasthenia gravis – fatigue. Still, I felt the effects of MG while training for events last year – my legs were often like lead when I ran, I couldn’t train first thing without breakfast and medication as I would feel ill and I would get light headed if I over exerted myself. Then I would suffer for overdoing it for a few days. This year I know my body better – particularly what times of the day I have most energy to train and which medication I can’t train without/which will make my throat burn. I’m hoping the healthier diet will help, but I still expect it to be a really tough. So why do it? Because of the immense satisfaction I know I’ll feel crossing different finish lines and knowing that I’m not letting MG stop me.

So there we have it – 2 days of temperatures above freezing and I’ve already signed away most of my year to training for, and competing in, sporting events. Bring it on!

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