The Battle to Return to Competition

I’ve returned to training and wanted to share some insight from my last Inside Tracker Blood test and tips on how I kicked my sickness to the curb… including Voodoo. This process of recovery was very slowly I might add because I was unable to go the quick healing route- a week long coma followed by another week on a work free/kid free vacation.

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Inside Tracker has been an incredible help to give me guidance in allowing me to continue training and (getting back) to being healthy. I’ve blogged about my experience HERE, HERE and HERE. If you run and you have never had a thorough test to check your blood levels, you might be missing some vital information that could unlock your potential. This is more than a simple CBC. It checks EVERYTHING.

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My absolute favorite part about this service is that you can’t hide. When you get  30 biomarkers of your total health tested– it reveals what you might have known but just couldn’t pinpoint. You can tell yourself and others you are feeling “ok” but when the results roll in, they speak the absolute truth. If you were suspecting something was up when you did the blood draw, I would be sure you are viewing your results on an empty stomach… because you might get so upset you want to throw up (that was basically my reaction this last one)…

As mentioned in my last blog this spring (8 weeks to be exact) have been ROUGH. I had intentions to race on the track and get after the steeplechase, but instead I lined up ZERO times until this past weekend (which I didn’t even consider a true race- but a fun long trail outing) …

My blood test occurred a few weeks ago, right after I had finished a round of antibiotics and was still not feeling great. I had been diagnosed with both a viral and bacterial ear infection; and even after the 10 days of treatment, I still did not feel I was back to 100%. The day of the test I knew I would have some interesting results based on how I felt during the actual blood draw. To test EVERYTHING, they need more than just a little; they take 6 vials and I had never had problems in the past. The draw was going slowly and eventually I had to switch arms and felt like I was almost going to pass out. It was the same feeling I had during a deep tissue massage the week prior – and an eerie feeling I remembered having when I was battling Lymes Disease. I was still sick… Even after my unplanned 10 day break which included ZERO RUNNING. I could not accept this and tried to forge on waking up optimistic daily thinking “this is it, I’m better”, push it a little in training/life/with kids/work, and then wake up to feel the same…

The test results came back a week later and revealed that my white blood count was at an extreme low as well as my monocyte count – enough that when I consulted with my doctor he wanted to get a second test to confirm because this would indicate I could have something as serious as mono. Back in college I had an ongoing problem with mono – starting in 2002 and never really getting out of my system until 2005.  I had occasional good stretches in training/racing, only to relapse back to extreme fatigue. My doctor back then had diagnosed me with “Chronic Epstein Barr” which is basically mono that doesn’t go away. The fatigue/exhaustion that began in early April (when my sinus infection started) have mimicked how I felt back in that long college stretch.

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Post antibiotics, this test also revealed that despite continued supplementing and drop in training; my iron stores (ferritin) were at it’s lowest I have seen in years (23)- as well as a bottomed out hematocrit (12.2). What that means — my body would not have an easy time getting the oxygen that enters my blood stream to go to my working muscles.  That is the worst sentence for a distance runner. The recent fatigue was not just affecting any chance to run and train, but also obviously my work and parenting life. Naps were something that I craved constantly but did not get. I felt so in debt that even a 10 hour stretch of sleep (that my husband would so generously allow) wouldn’t shake it. When you’re sick, you can’t seem to sleep enough.

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Each afternoon I would fight (mostly losing) the comatose urge to have more coffee (which hurts your iron count)– as well as adding unnecessary snacks. My self control – out the window for those hours in most afternoons. People have told me  “you look good” vs me at a leaner body weight.. which I guess I appreciate; however I was far from a “healthier” me… The added calories (along with massive decrease in overall training volume) —  was total compensation to do ANYTHING to help make my body temporarily feel better! I can definitely sympathize with people who can’t seem to avoid weight gain – when you are stressed, sick, overworked with limited time to spend exercise and sleep deprived; it is very hard to make the right decisions when it comes to nutrition!

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This is where Inside Tracker again can be very helpful – my cholesterol in the “needs improvement” and my blood sugar as well… it was a nice wake up call that reminded me NO EXCUSES. Sick, tired, stressed, unable to get the miles in, whatever… you need to step it up and eat the foods your body needs.

The last week I finally had a big turnaround in my health- thanks to changes in my diet and the support of friends (urging me to keep my training at a minimum!) I also couldn’t have done it without Voodoo. I say Voodoo because there are some crazy powerful things out there (no prescription required) that just take a little raw toughness (think shock to your body as you take them – such as when you dip into an icebath).

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Unfortunately donuts are NOT the answer

Here are my Voodoo Secrets to bounce back to full health and fight extreme fatigue/lasting sicknesses:

Warning these are not all easy.. be ready to step up your game!

Olive leaf/oregano oil tincture: Continuous doses every 4 hours of 30 drops into ~4 oz of water; chug and let the intensity begin (warning – this stuff stains your teeth) THE WORST FORM OF VOODOO AND MOST EFFECTIVE! 

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Power in bottle form (not to be taken together)

Apple Cider Vinegar: Pour a small cup of this (~4 oz) and chug. More potent than a shot of alcohol.. this wakes you up and kicks your system into high gear!

Hot/cold therapy: While taking a shower/even shaving- you shock your system! 3 minutes of hot water, then blast yourself for 30 seconds with cold (hitting these body parts in this order:  legs, arms, head, back, chest); repeat 3x; finish on cold and wrap up in swaddling towels/blankies and “Rest”. That’s the hardest part. Not recommended when you have kids to tend to afterwards. And also not recommended that you get your hair wet (you’re supposed to be able to really warm up post shower not stay cold with a wet head)

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Rest as a parent = get it when you can!

Vitamin C & Zinc: Take a lot of this…. If you start to get the runs back off! (Zinc interferes w/ iron- don’t take within 3 hours if you’re supplementing; also recommended you have zinc with food or you’re get nauseous)

Kombucha & dark chocolate: my go-to instead of another PM coffee. Probiotics and a little bit of caffeine with some antioxidants (again avoid iron supplementing – I save mine for bulk of the night when I am not eating but only up briefly for a bathroom visit)

Yogurt & Probiotics: The woman’s health blend seems to be pretty effective. This is pretty pain-free; just need to keep refrigerated and remember to take; just painful on wallet ($50/bottle)

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Running miles/intensity: BACK OFF this is where I struggle/d the most. I don’t want to sacrifice a drastic drop in fitness, but guess what.. if I had rested initially/more than I did period, I would have been back to my A game MUCH MUCH MUCH quicker. If you’re tempted to keep training while sick – read this article first.. the terror is real if you have already worked out while sick and THEN read this. I would agree that 1 single illness could set you back 3! or more months!!!!! Rest guilt free.

 

Rest/ Shutting your phone off at night: Harder to say than to do. I failed 75% of the time with restricting phone use after 9 PM but this would be wise! Use a bedtime alarm, and turn that sucker on airplane mode and get it out of sight! Time in the evening flies when you get sucked into social media, cutting into your much needed sleep- the BEST/most optimal way to get back to full health!!

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Alcohol: Sorry if you’ve said “but this wine helps me relax” or tried the whole google game of “does alcohol fight sickness”… Sorry it doesn’t. Costs far outweigh benefits. Every time I drank even a little alcohol during this whole endeavor, I had an amazing time during the whole 1 drinking extravaganza, but woke up the next day feeling worse/feeling extremely hung over. And it was only 1 drink! Pick your poison… have a drink to loosen up/de- stress, and you pay… beer hangover was way worse than wine … Had success sticking to ~3 oz of wine with food.

 

Coffee: The struggle is real here for an addict like myself. A little is ok (~a cup) but any quantity a normal non-sick you handles (and beyond) – you dehydrate yourself/create the whole hangover type experience only later that day. It also seemed to drive my hunger as a way to try to soak up some of that caffeine and get my body back to homeostasis. I am also convinced had I cut my coffee addiction, I would have fought off my sickness much earlier.

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How’s my breath JoJo? Is this coffee masking the garlic?

Raw Garlic and Onions: Speak to your significant other about this one to give fair warning. I also highly recommend consuming AFTER work if you have a job in which you interact with humans. If you cook it, you lose the high powered infection fighting stuff. You HAVE TO stink in order for this one to work. Be ready to deal with the gross after taste/hours of knowing you still stink. Think a little brushing your teeth or gargling with solve that? Think again! Best bet, you’re single, you don’t hang out with friends that night and consume after work. A good night sleep will get the stench level back to normal. This stuff is so powerful and so cheap. If you are married, convince husband to also consume it. 2 equally smelly people can be around each other.

More protein: When you’re sick and iron deficient, more of this stuff is going to help you fight. I was reminded in the recommendations of the Blood Test. I speedily headed to the store to stock up on so many foods I had basically forgot about! (More variety = the key to success!)

Other tips: 2 minute massages (from self, husband or friend); do handstands; get out for fresh air; remember to breathe/pray for a minute distraction free; sing in your car; laugh often – watching (clean??) comedy or at your own jokes or at your kids when they wipe out (not in front of them as long as it doesn’t require hospitalization); putting your legs up the wall for a 10 minute break; eating healthy fats plus a billion fruits and vegetables…

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Post work weights while listening to Led Zeppelin =  Stress relief!

Those are my secrets to getting back to health… Once again I can’t say enough about Inside Tracker!! I have much work to do and my eyes are wide open to how to bring about positive changes!  

Less than 24 hours until I race 10K up and down a mountain (US Mountain Champs in North Conway, NH); I hope to bring home good news and a blog update soon!

 

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