Monday, May 5, 2008

My Shift

It’s interesting how a slight change of routine can create a major shift in one’s life. After my crash, my challenger –er, opportunity – was to develop a new “norm”. Figure out how to deal, how to cope, how to view the daily ins and outs, move forward, recover, maintain a good attitude (as best as I could), keep my sense of humor (aka sanity), and yadda yadda yadda.

This in turn has made me realize even more so, how important physical activity is for ME. A daily run to awaken my spirits, a long ride through the backcountry of the Blackwater State Forest, or a dip in the pool helped me maintain my self. My heart. It cleared the cobwebs and was good for the mind + body + soul.

What do I mean by this?

Well, for starters, I’m a much happier person when I’m working out or doing something physical/productive with my body. And it doesn’t take a four hour bike ride to bring this about (although there are times when that HAS been appropriate). Just a short run here, a quick ride there, and I’m a different person.

Trust me.

Just ask my husband. He’ll vouch for the physically active side of me over the inactive side of me any day.

And it’s much worse on days where my morning workout sessions are cancelled. Or slept through (in a few instances). There’s just something not-so-fun about waiting around all day to accomplish a tough training session. I’m not a big fan of having an even bigger workout hanging over my head. No, I prefer the early morning workouts and the satisfaction that accompanies them afterwards.

Well – that and a good breakfast.

And coffee.

And fat free French vanilla coffee creamer.

Yes – I drink my coffee “with a skirt”, as Nathaniel would say. But I don’t care. It’s delicious!

(And in my one-of-a-kind pottery mugs that Nate and I collect from each state that we’ve lived in – priceless! Although, he’ll stick with his Northwestern “I’d rather be fishing in the Bearing Sea” mug. Boys!)

Last Thursday when I was given the “all clear” to swim and aqua run, I noticed an immediate shift, or transformation in my spirit.

And it’s not that I wasn’t focused on recovery or physical therapy beforehand. Indeed, I was. (I p-r-o-m-i-s-e!) I was committed 100%, did my pool walking several times a week, went for hikes through the Mountain Bike Trails at UWF, and walked to the smooth tunes of my i-pod around the track.

But to me, it’s much more than just going around the track or walking in the pool.

These past few days, I noticed a transformation in myself.

After getting the “all-clear” to re-start swimming and aqua running, my entire focus changed. It was no longer about recovery, but rather, getting the ball rolling on re-establishing my fitness and training. Recovery was certainly an aspect, and listening to my body would be paramount to my success (and believe me, I have progressed too far, have gone through way too much to risk re-injury. I would much rather stop a session early or discontinue and exercise, rather than risk further injury to my back. That is NOT an option).

However seeing actual workouts on my training planner, even if they consist only of swim drills or holding zone 1-2 for an aqua run, has prompted the old Marit to re-emerge. She was always in the background, lurking and waiting for the opportunity to pop her head out.

And there were plenty of times when she did: racing other spinal patients on the 4th floor of La Jolla Hospital Ward, race-walking another pool walker, demanding more from my physical therapy sessions – more challenges, increased difficulty (to J-Flo’s horror. I know, I’m a difficult PT patient). But more often than not, the Marit that I’ve become took a back seat to the Recovery Marit.

Rightfully so!

And that was okay, as that’s what I needed for the first 6 or 7 weeks of my recovery.

But starting last Thursday, after getting my two workouts from Jen, I noticed an immediate shift in myself.

I listened to Korn in the car (“Twisted Transistor” – typical pre-workout music. I know, I know: a far cry from Vivaldi or Dvorak, but it gets me going, gets me Fired UP!), glared at my reflection in the bathroom mirror – as though challenging her to back down – and started planning meals in advance.

After all: now that I’m back to training in the pool with the swimming and running, in addition to my three times per week 2-hour physical therapy sessions, I needed enough nutritious food choices to fuel my recovery. I have ALSO noticed, that when I’m training, when I’m being generally productive in the manner that I prefer (again, long bike rides, runs, and monster pool sessions), I tend to eat healthier.

And not that I don’t normally eat healthy. Trust me – we do!

It’s just that when I train, when I swim-bike-run, I realize how important my body is. I will never take for granted what I do or how my body responds. On days where I had nothing scheduled or only went for a long hike, I noticed that my food choices were not quite as healthy as they would have been had I been preparing for a race or training.

And that’s okay, as I learned more about myself in the process.

But now that I’ve gotten my weekly training schedule from Jen, now that I’m swimming and aqua running on a daily basis, I’m slowly but surely seeing the old Marit emerge.

She had a 7 week hiatus, a good amount of time off.

But now it’s time, now things are returning to “normal.”

Training Peaks in now being updated, sometimes up to 3X per day. I am just that excited about stuff.

And I’ve got a new appreciation for the opportunities that I’ve been given, the life that I was able to preserve (as much as possible). And although I’m returning to my old-self physically with swimming and aqua running, the transformations and shifts in my mind and personality that have occurred since the accident are here to stay.

And you know what? I kinda like the change, like the person that I’ve become post-crash. There are so many things that I would have never experienced, never been aware of had I not flipped off my bike and broken my back on March 17. But I did, and I can’t change the fact.

But I can choose to look at what has happened as a positive, as a learning experience. Which is why my current “shift” is so huge for me. Because slowly, but surely, I’m my body is returning to its old self. But my mind has undergone a much more powerful transformation.

And for that, I am grateful.


rr said...

Welcome back, Marit :) So glad to hear you are finally getting to move forward.. literally! You have been so patient, so good.. will you be my sponsor? Can I log on to your blog every time I get the urge to go on an un-approved morning run?

Anonymous said...

Congratulations - what you did is A M A Z I N G! You had to keep mentally fit in order to help your body recover, during a time most people would find disorienting and depressing - - and you did it by observing the outside world, bringing it to the inside, making your brain interpret and reinterpret data so it would positively affect your healing. No small accomplishment. You have done what few can do, and in the process, you have learned more about yourself than most ever do. You are awesome. Now, your body will have to do some "extra" work to catch up to your mind. And, no doubt it WILL!

♥ Mom