Back at the end of October I set some ambitious exercise goals for myself . I'm pleased to tell you that almost three weeks in this month, I'm still on track. 2 bike rides, 2 swims, and 2 walks each week for 3 weeks now (well, I've got one more walk this week, but that'll happen tomorrow morning, early). It hasn't been as hard as I had thought. I've watched the weather, tried to get my bike rides in early in the week if the weather's good and enjoyed getting back into the water on a regular schedule.
So how's it going? I feel stronger, especially in the pool. I've been able to pretty quickly up my laps and my times are getting faster. All good. I love the pool. Love. love. love the pool. I haven't talked with the Masters swim coach yet, but I did email him and I did ask at the front desk. So, that's something, right? I'm still not altogether sure that training at 5 AM is for me, but still thinking about that.
Cycling is good. The longest ride so far has been 19 miles on a lovely fall day on the American Tobacco Trail. Today I did a cadence ride. That's a shorter distance at a higher cadence - aiming at 90-95 revolutions per minute. I felt lethargic before I started and didn't really want to ride because I had lots to do, but I pulled on my thermal tights and that was the cue ... get going! So, I did. And I'm glad. It always feels better to have exercised when you don't feel like it than to skip it because you're feeling lazy or tired. 30 minutes and 6 miles later with six reps of my cadence distance and some easy cycling before and after and I felt much better.
I haven't run a step. I'm walking ... briskly, and thinking of trying one of those couch to 5k training programs. I can walk forever, but I'm not a runner. A program like that might help me up my pace a bit. Since I've started thinking about a sprint triathlon with Andrew in the spring, I need to be able to run a 5k. So, we'll see.
Some of you know that I have rheumatoid arthritis. After some tests that indicated that my RA was really out of control and aggressively affecting my joints, and after a long heart to heart with my rheumatologist back in October, I have started on a new medication. She pointed out that I had likely forgotten what it felt like to not hurt all the time. She was right. The constant pain had become my normal and I thought that was just how it was going to be. With some trepidation, I decided to heed her recommendation and begin this new med. People ... I am amazed. I didn't know I could feel like this. Didn't know I could sleep through the night without frequent painful insomnia. Didn't know I could wake up in the morning and not hobble across the bedroom and painfully make my way down the stairs. Didn't think I could ever do push-ups or planks again. Didn't think I'd ever get my favorite ring back on my finger. I do not typically advocate medication. I don't like it. I am still nervous about it. But it has made a big difference in how I feel. So, I'll stay on it for now which also means, I am able to exercise more and feel better in every way!
I don't think the medication is the only answer. Diet and exercise are key. I am mostly gluten free and eat a very healthy diet (except when I'm having a family celebration and then I relax the rules quite a bit). Lots of fresh, raw fruits and vegetables. Pretty low carbs. Very little processed food. Very little sugar. But I was doing that before I was on this new med and while I'm sure it helped, it wasn't enough. My joints were not just hurting but were being destroyed by my immune system. That's what RA does. Now, I think ... I hope ... that joint damage is being minimized. Inflammation and pain are greatly reduced. I feel, at times, like a new person. And that's pretty exciting.
It was important for me to set the bar high. More than once, I've made myself get out the door, made myself pull on the goggles and slip into the water. Every time I do it, I'm thankful.