Tuesday, November 20, 2007

my story of getting started

A post on Tri-Drs asked the following questions:
What was it that triggered your wanting to get active?
What where the biggest hurdles to starting on your path?
How did you figure out what you needed to know to get started?
Where did you go to find it?
Do you know friends who have tried to get active and failed? Why did they fail?
What would you have liked to know when you started?
What would have made starting easier?
I was on the women's sailing team in college and did some bicycle touring. But after that I was a walker, didn't do other exercise. That changed when I was diagnosed with diabetes at age 48. I was very depressed for a couple of days and then got on the internet and discovered alt.support.diabetes and the radical approach outlined at: http://www.phlaunt.com/diabetes/ I started testing my blood glucose 7 times a day and adjusting my diet to keep my readings under 140 an hour after eating, under 120 two hours after eating. Without limiting how much I ate I lost about 50 lbs.

I got more serious about exercise because I could eat a higher carb treat if I walked afterwards. I went to a week-long retreat at the beach in the late spring, and walking without hills didn't seem like exercise so I started running. My knees didn't like running, and so I decided to buy a new bicycle and alternate bicycling and very slowly increasing my running. Somewhere in there I picked up Slow Fat Triathlete by Jayne Williams and was inspired by the idea that it was possible to enjoy a sport without being good at it. I bought my bike from the local bike shop so I got some help there but mostly I just rode, with the goal of doing a local organized ride in the fall. I invented my own approach to increasing my running--I was running on a track so I ran three times a week and each month I added one more lap.

By the time I got to a year after my diabetes diagnosis, I was running about 2 miles three times a week and did a century bike ride, so I decided to go for a sprint triathlon in the spring. The one wrinkle was a cardiologist who didn't like my high maximum heart rate, but a nuclear stress test showed no problems. I joined a masters swim group in January, which was one of the hardest things I have ever done because I knew I didn't know how to swim properly. I was quite comfortable swimming but with my head out of the water. It is a small group (9-12 people) and the coach taught me.

I bought some books, which other than Jayne Williams I haven't found very useful. The Tri-Drs email group has been much more helpful. I can't think of much that would have made it easier getting started. I looked around a bit for a training group but really I enjoy the alone time. One of the things that helped me with the diabetes is the philosophy "My body, my science experiment" and I have applied that to my training as well. I like my Garmin and Sportstracks.

Four years after diagnosis I've done four to six triathlons a year for three years, including my first half-ironman this fall. My glucose tolerance is a little improved, though I still have to watch my carbs very carefully. I feel great and am having fun. My A1c (a measure of average blood glucose control) is 5.8--in the normal range.

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