My sporting life has definitely been divided into phases. I’ll name for of them and try not to be as boring as when I gave a friend a short history of all the running shorts I had owned. (Yes, really.)
1- Recreational athlete. All of my childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood until age 34 could be counted in this phase. I did what was fun to me, I tried to “stay in shape” and I avoided all but ten or so races. “I don’t like racing,” I said, though secretly wishing I did. I had many athlete friends who competed. I just trained with them. But, hey, it was fun. Really. Water skiing, rock climbing, swimming, running, bike touring, on and on. I did a lot. It was all fun. (I did “run track” in college, but that was mostly training, to be honest. Injuries kept me out of many races.)
2- Racing phase. I took up Nordic ski racing with a great deal of commitment after my best friend at the time passed away suddenly. He was a superb athlete. I started to race because “a little voice in my head” told me it would help. I trained daily and I went from last place race finishes to finishing with admired peers in the citizen races in the 1990s to early 2000s.My favorite event was the 50-kim ski race. I loved loved loved marathon ski races. … And I threw in some running races, with quite a few half-marathons and some mountain road races like Mt. Washington. Generally the confidence, fitness and discipline gained from racing and year-round sensible training gave me a lot of joy.
3- The cancer phase. This included two years or so when I was trying to train and race as usual, but I had cancer that I didn’t know about. (Ovarian cancer is sneaky that way.) I felt lousy. Then I had life-saving surgery and chemo. Chemo, as you might know, though, can be a rough ride, and during 6 courses of carbo/Taxol, I had to make a lot of accommodations based on how I felt, anemia, etc. But I did have a lot of times during treatment where I could walk, hike, swim or water-ski. Just slower and less far than usual. It was still fun–especially compared to getting an infusion. I knew I benefited from that exercise and later did a ton of research and reading on why exercise helps cancer patients, which became the basis of my book.
Somewhat sadly, the comeback from the cancer phase was slow partly because of terrible insomnia that had started with the cancer ordeal. And then just when things were shaping up after two years or so, my recovery was punctuated with breaking my leg and mangling my knee ligaments in a skiing accident. Whoops. That took a lot out of me. But now…
4- Phase Four: Racing Again. Oh the power of goals. As a friend who is a stellar athlete shared with me once, “I have to have race dates on my calendar or I just won’t keep up with training well.” Well, that makes sense, now doesn’t it?
So, this week I put a race on my calendar for about 9 weeks from now. I’m nowhere near ready, but I will be when it comes around. It’s 4.5 miles up a mountain, the tallest in Vermont. A running race. That sounds fun, now doesn’t it? It does to me. They say you can gain back 80% of your fitness in 6 weeks. Or something like that. Let’s hope so. No matter what the race results will be, I’m already energized and I feel like I have some of my pre-cancer athletic confidence back already. Oh, the power of a goal. I recommend you set one for yourself. There’s really nothing like it.
Now, I have to go out and run. Yay.
Have a good day, and remember, if you are in cancer treatment, going for a little walk is better than not walking if you can do it safely. Just do what you can today to get a little exercise. Hope and exercise go together so well…