Tag Archives: Exercise

Planning A Heartfelt 2014

30 Dec

A distinct lack of a blog can only mean one thing – a lack of positive topics to write about!

Following on from my last blog,  I’ll share a little of what’s happened with my heart and beyond that, how I expect things to change in 2014!

At the beginning of November, I went to see my cardiologist for a series of tests to find out what kind of condition my heart was in. I knew it was in no state for any long distance races or endurance training but there was a big question mark over how ‘gentle’ my exercising needed to be (note the change of wording, I no longer ‘train’!). I explained to the cardiologist that I had listened to what he had said previously and stuck to light exercise. This for me had meant short swims which slowly had got down to 500 – 750m. Chest pain and breathlessness had ruled out running and cycling. Even with easy short swims, I still didn’t feel great. I was feeling dizzy after any exertion which began to worry me.

I had the same set of tests as I had before, an echocardiogram and exercise tolerance test on treadmill, in which I had to stop and lie down as my blood pressure dropped. My echo looked ok, but I was asked to have an MRI to rule out anything sinister with my coronary arteries. Two attempts later and after 6 needles, a horrendous injection of Adenosine to speed up my heart, all was confirmed as normal. Lastly, I had a 24 hour tape when I had to try and bring on my symptoms whilst wired up to electrodes.

After the tests, I was left with reassuring results but a big question mark still lingering. In this situation I should be grateful that after all I have put my heart through, that it is still pumping efficiently! I am left with a series of symptoms that I am learning to live with, that aren’t particularly pleasant but could be much worse.

I was recently reading up on the five stage grief process for an NVQ assignment. By no means am I comparing my experience this year of having to stop training for Ironman and triathlon races to the grief of losing a loved one, but the process of handling a difficult situation I can relate to.

Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance.

In May I was certainly in the denial stage, when I first was told that I needed to stop the long distance stuff. I carried on training regardless, without admitting to myself or others that I was.

Anger is something I have felt at some times. I haven’t been the easiest person to live with (and for that Liam Pryer deserves a medal!).

I see my bargaining stages as the later part of November onwards, when I joined the local swim on a 6 week membership and stuck religiously to 2 short swims and 2 light gym sessions a week. This meant that if I went easy on my heart, it might get better and somehow allow me to do more!

Depression. Hmmm, well nobody likes admitting to feeling depressed, stressed, low or whatever. But there have honestly been times when I have felt so sad about having to give up something I love so much. I have missed going outside and losing myself in some empty lanes or fields, enjoying the quiet, fresh air and feeling of satisfaction. I have continued to avoid the subject of triathlon, situations and people that I associate with sport as it has just been too hard.

Acceptance. I think (*I hope*) I am there now. Others might argue that because I’m not my usual positive self but deep down I know that tri, marathons and Ironman have had their time. There will be something to fill that hole (and not marriage and babies please people!), I need to feel I am achieving great things outside a relationship, outside having fun with my friends, outside my career goals. I really am trying to fill that hole; writing a book is still going, albeit slowly!

I’ve always been one for new years resolutions, and annoyingly bug others about doing it too. After a sluggish Christmas period, I love how January gives you the feeling of a fresh start, similar to starting a new school year in September.

2014 for me means this:

  • Positively accepting I need to be nice to my heart, forever.
  • I want to be involved with triathlon and the best supporter out there.
  • Learning to feel good about myself even without the buzz of hard exercise!
  • Trying to help others appreciate the benefits of exercise.
  • Absolutely not allow any of the following: bingo wings, muffin tops, pot bellies (GYM!)

This is the recipe for my perfect 2014. Heartfelt of course.

:)

Heart Surgery to Ironman – January Dramas

6 Feb

I started 2012 with my eye very much on the big goal. As soon as the clock struck 12, I was on a mission to ensure I did everything possible to improve my chances making it. With a pretty rubbish month of training in December due to a lingering back injury, I was raring to go in the new year. Every so often, the enormity of the task that is Ironman dawned on me, usually when I had a less-than-ideal training session!

Like so many others making new year’s resolutions in January, I committed to a healthier lifestyle and a few tweaks here and there. I feel fortunate to to not have a lack of motivation to exercise, even in the middle of winter. It appears that I never struggle to get out of the door! I can only attribute this to one thing – my overwhelming desire to achieve my goal!

Looking back a few years, I’ve had my ups and downs when it comes to motivation. At university I was certainly more interesting in going out than going for a run. From around that age though, my family history of heart disease really did scare me. This fear of ending up with the same fate seemed to serve a purpose when it came to exercise. I wrote my nursing dissertation on the impact of having cardiac rehabilitation in community – ironic that I ended going through that myself aged 27!

More recently, my lovely 84 year old grandfather was taken into hospital with heart problems. Being faced with losing another loved person and watching all the intensive care that was required to get him back to health made me appreciate how precious both life and health is. My fighting instinct kicked in (not violence of course!) and I tried to do all I could to ensure my grandfather got the best care possible. I strongly believe in fighting for both health and life and in these circumstances, a positive outlook on life often directly results physical recovery.

Since my own dice with death, as it were, goals become prioritised, higher aimed even. The ‘do it tomorrow’ attitude now seems pitiful to me. Through recent events and previous experience, I have been inspired to do more, achieve more and encourage others to do the same.

So whilst injuries, the weather and other life commitments can try to get in the way of achieving your goals, remember to stay in control. I find it useful to regularly reflect on why I want to do Ironman, and as you can see, the list is endless!

Importance of HealthIronman Training - Corinne Ellison

18 Months Since Heart Surgery – 6 Months til Ironman!

23 Dec

Today marks the 18 month anniversary since my heart surgery in June 2010. Funnily, it’s not the looking back that I have been focussing on today, but where I am at right now and where I would like to be in 6 months time. With it being Christmas, being around family today and on this date, I am feeling very grateful for what I have and for being alive in general! A little run this morning was just the right thing to do and made me appreciate my health.

There are many who have been in my position who were not so lucky and didn’t go on to make a full recovery from their heart surgery, or recover at all. Living with a long term health condition is difficult and I have spoken with many brave people who do just that but strive to live their lives to the full. If you are healthy, what excuse do you have not to push for more than you ever thought possible?

Just over 6 months from now (and exactly a week after my 2 year operation anniversary!), I will be aiming to prove to myself that nothing is impossible. In 2 years, a lot will have had to happen to get me from unable to walk round the block to completing 140.6 miles. Some say I’m a little bit crazy, others admire my plans. There is nothing that can stop me finishing this Ironman because of what it means to me.

I happen to believe that exercise is the best way of  making you feel good about yourself and it inspires others to do the same. So go out and get some fresh air over the holidays, you know you should!

December Goals

1 Dec

Two and a bit weeks since my last post, my excuse? Life, work, stress… all reasons that prevent us from taking action towards important goals. I guess I have felt overwhelmed with urgent tasks involved with my business which resulted in November being largely unsuccessful. Yes I have earnt money, run a few times, been to the gym, seen a friend, written an article…. Ok, maybe unsuccessful is an unfair assessment. Urgent tasks persuade us away from the difficult jobs, such as finding time to write blogs, speak to that person or work towards a short term goal.

My lack of a November goal has had a huge impact on my exercise. I have lacked motivation to get out running regularly. My knees have started complaining when I did go out and I am seeing a chiropractor to get the aches nipped in the bud.

Business is so busy, I am working at least 12 hours a day when in the office and around 16 hour days when out at events (3 times a week). I am now very behind in my ‘to do’ list!

All in all, I just can’t wait until Christmas when I can stop and take stock. A recent email from a correspondent in the US made me stop my complaining and consider all that has gone well recently. Thanksgiving in America sounds a great idea to me. In the UK, we love to moan about the weather, the economy, the recession and anything else that depresses us. The power of gratitude is overwhelming. Comparing my life to others less fortunate, less healthy, really helped me gain perspective on my perceived problems.

Already, I am finding excuses about committing to a December goal. I am tempted to fall into the common trap of delaying action, until next month ‘when things have settled down’ or ‘when I am more financially stable’. Learning from November, I refuse to go goal-less again.

My December goals will be:

To complete my first module of reading for my coaching course

To get to the gym for core / strength training at least once a week

Complete a turbo trainer session at least once a week

12 Weeks Ago Today My Heart Was Stopped For 39 Minutes

15 Sep

12 weeks ago today, I had heart surgery for a large hole in my heart. My heart was stopped and I was put onto a bypass system during the operation. I woke up in intensive care sore and feeling very sick. I spent 8 days in hospital before returning home to spend the next 12 weeks recovering.

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Last night, re-running this in my mind kept me awake. Since my operation, all my focus has been on getting better and the future. I never let myself think about the lead up to surgery, my time in hospital or any pain during recovery. I can now admit it wasn’t easy. It hurt. I was scared. I saw my cardiologist last week who told me I would have died in 8 -10 years if I hadn’t had the surgery. At the time, I laughed this off. Afterwards I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach! This information has only made me more determined to achieve now. Achieve in business, in triathlon, in running and my life in general.

Niggling fears and doubts are starting to bug me! Two of my hospital consultants have told me that it is ok for me to train again. They both know my aims to return to triathlon and running (ironman hasn’t been mentioned though!). Both were quick to tell me I wouldn’t be able to be an elite athlete. This hasn’t been an aim of mine but why is it when someone tells you you can’t do something, it makes you want it even more!! I am now questioning why not. Physiologically, can my heart not stand intense exercise? I’ve been told my heart is as good as new now so this doesn’t make sense. Should I be scared to push it on a lone 20 mile run or 50 mile bike ride? What if I feel like I did after the Berlin marathon last year (hideous!). Feelings of sadness have filled me this week. Sadness at what I have missed in terms of races and at what my body has gone through.

There I’ve said it. I admit to feeling rubbish this week. However, I have had the best training sessions. Running on the treadmill with the occasional 1 minute walk have felt great.  Cycling on the spin bike at the gym was such as relief to get back on the bike. The best feeling of all was getting back in the pool. Lengths felt so easy, I was shocked! No breathlessness or chest pain, not so much as an ache in any of my chest muscles. My sternum has now healed, yipee!! I am finally at a stage where I am going to overtake my progress before my operation. With some trepidation I am starting to believe in what I may be capable of. I  am excited to think of the personal bests that may be ahead. All the frustration of not achieving the times I thought I should in relation to my training is now behind me.

Although my heart was stopped 12 weeks ago today, it has never worked as efficiently as it is now. For that, I am very grateful! Coming soon is my list of 2011 races :)

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From Diagnosis to Ironman

17 Mar

Back in January, I was diagnosed with a hole in my heart. Over the last two months I have had many investigations, with today being the first day I received results. I will need an operation to close the hole in my heart, as it is large and the right side of my heart is failing (!). Not nice news.

BUT, after the operation and recovery, I will be able to return to my current level of fitness and far exceed this also. My initial questions to my consultant were those relating to health, the surgery, outcomes etc. Second, came questioning about my ability to return to training for running events and triathlons. As exercise is a big part of my life, I naturally wanted to enquire how this diagnosis will impact my plans for racing this year and for the future.

My plans for marathons for this year are out, definitely. My triathlon races and the London to Brighton bike ride in mid-summer, questionable. I have paid to see my consultant privately to speed things up, for which I am lucky. Seeing a specialist in Southampton will give me the answers to my health and fitness questions. I am informed (and this information is cemented in my mind), that I will be running within 4 weeks of surgery, so long as I have a local anaesthetic procedure as opposed to open heart surgery.

Either way and under any circumstances, I am DETERMINED to remain positive and achieve my dreams of improving as an athlete, however amateur! Over the last few years, my running has improved – not greatly (and for this I now have reason!). My love of triathlon including swimming and cycling has grown and I am committed to pursuing my fitness goals. And yes, this does include Ironman.

Ironman for me symbolises the ultimate challenge, physically, psychologically and emotionally. For those that achieve this endurance challenge, the rewards are immense. I am incredibly hard to please, and this is what drives me forward. To sit back and accept or resign yourself to a seemingly gloomy fate is unproductive. You could even say that this kind of attitude is failing yourself.

My journey starts here. Crazy as it sounds, I’m excited. I am positive that the benefits of this hurdle in my life will far outway any negative implications. To test myself like never before and record my journey to share my experience with others, I will not only increase my belief in my abilities to succeed but inspire others to overcome obstacles in their lives.