As a Roxcycl ambassador I have a goal of encouraging and motivating others to come into cycling, or to come into active lifestyles in general. I feel that part of that is to be able to be a part of other people’s inspiring stories and to share some of the inspirational women I know. As such, I asked Leah to write a post about her experiences in fitness and I hope to share many more inspirational stories throughout the year. Check out Leah’s triathlon training business here.
Eliza (Roxcycl Ambassador and cyclist extraordinaire) recently told me about a great idea she had; to invite women who inspire her to write a guest blog post with the goal of encouraging more women towards their goals. I truly thought this was a great idea and am going to admit, I was pretty surprised when she asked me to be her first guest. Like many things in life, sometimes it just takes a moment to turn around our previous conceptions on life and this was one of those moments!
I’m going to do what Eliza asked and I’m going to share my fitness journey with you but I’m also going to tell you why my journey matters and equally importantly, why yours does too!
I was diagnosed with bilateral chronic compartment syndrome (CCS) in my calves as a teenager playing representative basketball. What does this mean? It means that in short, exercise of any duration longer than a few minutes and particularly on inclines, where my calves are under impact, results in me losing circulation to my feet because of fairly extreme pressure and swelling in the fascia of my legs and oxygen deprivation to the muscles. To put it simply, running hurts me a lot. There are two potential treatment options; the first one is to avoid activities that bring on the extreme compartmental pressure and the second option is surgery. Surgery involves opening up the muscle compartments (in my case all three in each leg) so that they will decompress. Unfortunately surgery for CCS isn’t tremendously common in Australia and the two surgeons I have consulted with were not completely confident that a fasciotomy would resolve my issues so I’ve decided to avoid that option for now. Instead, I have been working with a physiotherapist on relieving the symptoms (via massage and dry needling) and building my other supporting muscles (ie. glutes) to reduce exertion on my calves.
By now you might be asking why so much detail on my medical issues? Three years ago I decided to take up cycling (road and mountain bike) with my now husband and fell in love with the sport. In general, cycling isn’t too bad on my legs (except for hills where you tend to use more of your calves) and it started off as something I could share with my husband. It’s grown to become my favourite hobby and through it, I’ve met so many amazing people and accomplished things I never thought I could do.
Probably building on this high and through witnessing the amazing accomplishments of a close friend, two years ago, I decided to take up triathlon. Good choice, right? Nothing like choosing a three sport hobby where potentially two of the sports put pressure on my legs! Finishing my first ever triathlon in January 2013 (a sprint distance 700m/20km/5km) was one of the best feelings that I’ve ever had. I walked most of the run (and I’ll probably always continue to do that) but I got it done and it was so empowering!
Since then, I’ve tackled more short distance triathlons, am building up to tackling my biggest goal, a half ironman (1.9km, 90km, 21km) where again, I know I’ll have to walk the majority of the run. I’ve also started a triathlon training business with a close friend and 4 x ironman finisher where we focus on introducing novice women into the sport of triathlon by providing them the fundamental physical and emotional skills to succeed at this awesome sport (www.triformefitness.com.au).
Having shared my journey, you might remember at the start of this post I said that this post is about me but I want you to know why your journey matters equally? Let me tell you why. A recent pivotal moment sparked by Eliza asking me to be a guest writer was the epiphany; we have all overcome adversity to be where we are today, we are all on our own unique journeys, we will all continue to grow and learn at different paces and that’s okay! As humans, let alone as women, too often we compare ourselves to others and feel that we fall short. Let me tell you, so long as you are trying, you don’t fall short!
Only this week I was comparing my longest run to a friend’s longest run and feeling disappointed in myself. My longest run (currently 2km before I need to walk because of my leg issues) could be someone else’s goal to aspire to! I have worked so freaking hard to be able to run that far and I shouldn’t dismiss it, I should and am, proud! There are other people just starting their fitness journeys, maybe they are doing the Couch to 5km running program and dreaming about the day that they can run 2km continuously! I want to reassure them that it is possible!
By comparing ourselves, our challenges, our journeys to other people we are losing the opportunity to help inspire and motivate others and to also celebrate what we have achieved! Be proud of what you have achieved, you’ve worked hard to get there and always remember, you might not realise it but every day you are inspiring someone else, don’t belittle their journey by not being proud of your own!