Reality and Responsibility

When your coaches words of the week post-race are “love your liver” you know shit is getting real.

Sitting in the doctor’s office for three hours watching a dark liquid make its way into your body via the IV line in your hand, a Nurse coming in every so often to take your blood pressure to make sure you’re not having a bad reaction to the crimson iron being pumped into your body, you start to think about what you are putting your body through. Reality hits, and it needs to be talked about.

Iron infusion for iron levels that had been plummeting for the last 12 months…and that is some Liver detox tea in my travel mug BTW! 😀

In my last blog to you, I talked about the little bubble that we live in. Social media can make abnormal things seem completely normal and ultra running is one of those abnormal things that is being normalised. I was thinking on this over the week and felt a responsibility to show the whole story!Let me soften this reality shock for a second…yes a box full of puppies on Instagram, rolling around and falling over each other is AMAZING, and makes you want one (join the club), but it doesn’t go to show you the result of a box full of energised puppies when litter training starts…next week!!

Don’t get me wrong, I think everyone who wants to take on an ultramarathon should do it! I love it and will keep doing it as long as I can because it adds a dimension to my life and self-growth that I can’t imagine I would get any other way. But full disclosure, after my second race my body needs some extra lovin’, and I wanted to share that reality, because it isn’t all smiles, running in the mountains, and amazing races – though that is why we do it. It’s also medical monitoring and taking care of your body at a whole other level.

So when The Boss (Coach Carlos) says ‘love your liver’, I listen. What does that mean?…Post race sauna’s, lots of water, liver detox teas and watching the load going into my body, i.e. refined sugars, alcohol, coffee, pain killers and anti-inflamatories. Loving my liver means taking next-level care of my body, and that’s on top of the stretching, rolling, strength work, and other facets of the training program! When you get to the ultra-endurance sport, what is going on inside your body and vital organs are just as important as what’s going on with your muscles!

So for me, proactive reality check one went something like this.  Taking pre-race bloods. They were pretty good in general, and I’ll get more taken soon to keep an eye on what’s going on inside, this stuff is important.

Reality check two. My iron levels have been trending down for the last 12 months, trending down – actually they were more like a sky-diver in free fall plummetting at an alarming rate and I needed to pull the chute before I plummeted head-first towards a grim ending (too much?! maybe!), but, the reality was that the iron wasn’t good. Bloods pre-race showed this and I was booked in for the infusion race-week.Not knowing how that was going to play out on race day, we opted to go take the IV post-race when I had more time to recover and give my body the time it needed to process the increased load from the iron.  So four days post-race I’m sitting in the doctors’ office wishing I’d opted to sit on the bed because a wee nap would have been quite welcome as I waited for that special liquid-metal potion to enter my body.

The question, of course, is why was my iron so low in the first place, the answer I would say is simply the load I put on my body. Yes, I am vegetarian, but I eat a really good balanced healthy diet, but, like I’ve said before, I’m pushing my body and it will push back.So with the infusion all done and dusted, I’m feeling good about it. We might need to do one more to get the levels right back up and then continue with one a year as needed to keep me healthy. It’s not ideal to have medical intervention, but I think there is a bigger discussion to be had around the quality of our food, as I don’t believe we can entirely blame my sport – see the way I’m side-stepping that one there?!  I’m not ready to blame the sport entirely…

Finally, and actually, a pretty cool wee bit of data to keep tabs on this trifecta of reality checks, is my before and after body composition reading from the very cool Tanita Body Composition Analyzer.  So reality check three? That would be the change in body composition.I’m really grateful that the guys at Wedderburn love geeking out on data just as much as I do! They have given me access to their super cool machine for the duration of this challenge so we can see what happens to my body over the course of the challenge and pre and post-race. I’m not going to be breaking the machine with rippling muscle growth! But I am hoping that we will see a long term improvement and ultimately a healthier body at the end of this challenge than I had a start.

Wedderburn are giving me the use their Tanita Body Composition Analyzer to track changes over the challenge….I love data – knowledge is power!

With this Wedderburn body analyser machine, to start with we have the data pre and post Naseby, (photos attached for those that want to compare the numbers), but basically, I lost muscle, body fat and bone mass (that doesn’t sound too good!).I am hoping that the data will change significantly as I follow a good recovery plan and get back into some good strength training in this next training block between races. We are all interested to have access to such data and work on this experiment of one so I’ll keep you all in the loop with the data as we take more readings and move through the challenge.

As a glass half full, perpetually looking on the bright side kind of person I’d say all the data that I have around my health, while on the face of it doesn’t look super positive, gives us a really good snapshot of where I am, and knowledge is power. I’m going to kick-arse on this recovery, really work on my strength training, and take extra special care of my body so it can keep going on alllll the amazing adventures I have in my head, and to get me through the next two races.
So, cheers, I’ll raise you a mug of liver cleansing tea and toast to the next chapter of my Thir Southern Seasons Miler Challenge…bring on Krayzie Kapers!!

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