At present I walk 25 minutes every two days. Athlete of the Year to me.
The basic rule of GET is never to push myself, and in order to survive, I must live by this rule strictly. It is hard to gage my limits though, as I never hit my treadmill thinking yippee I am going for a walk, I hit it thinking right get this over with. I have to drag myself to the beast, force myself onto the mat and bribe myself to hit the start button, almost tying my hands so they cannot reach the stop button until my allotted time is done. In short, I hate my treadmill but I believe I have to exercise. The idea of sitting on the couch 24/7 scares the crap out of me and I worry my body will completely shrivel up.
When I’m on the machine I’ve imaginary conversations with ex running partners, or pretend I’m at the end of a race on empty with only a few hundred metres to go but I never felt as bad during any race as I do while on my treadmill. It is torture.
So, back to the never push yourself mantra. I have to push myself to get up on the treadmill and to stay on it but can never push myself while on it. How is this balancing act done? I have yet to get it right.
My body varies from day to day. It varies from hour to hour within each day, there are weeks when I know my body cannot attempt walking at all; and the inner voice questioning should I try and do something small or sit and rest but experience has taught me STOP. I’m too stupid to fear failure and this has led to some interesting post exercise incidents.
There was the day I knew I needed to pull myself off the treadmill but I was so close to my target, pushing myself for one more minute surely won’t be that detrimental? That one extra minute had me shaking from head to toe, my body didn’t know if it wanted to puke or pass out, a week later and I finally overcame my silliness. On another occasion, pushing myself led to falling to my knees in my shower afterwards, my legs too weak to hold me, again a week passed by before I managed to recover.
These incidents reminded me pushing is dangerous, every footfall on my treadmill is like being in the death zone on Everest. I have to listen to my body, stop before I empty the tank, keeping a small bit in reserve, energy to make my dinner, energy to shower, energy to dress. Everything I do requires energy and so I have to pace myself during my GET in order to make it through the rest of my day and avoid a full blown crash. It is hard to get it right all the time, my friend myalgic encephalomyelitis unpredictable.
GET is not getting easier, there are setbacks, the worst setbacks are when I increase my minutes exercise thinking myalgic encephalomyelitis is in agreement and then BAM after three sessions she will whack me across the knees. My body will take to my couch for a week, after which I start back on the treadmill doing less than a month previously and slowly start rebuilding again. It’s as if I’m constantly taking leaps backwards and then slowly shuffling forwards. Last Christmas I had two very bad crashes back to back which seem to have maimed me or lingered and everything including exercise is harder now than it was this time last year.
Thankfully I’m so brain dead I don’t realise the severity of my knockbacks until I sit in front of my consultant and list off the previous few months of hell and all I didn’t achieve in our loose plan. Those moments are funny; I’m reminded of what it is like looking at me from the outside. You see, I’m in a bubble, the small bit of concentration I have, used to grapple with the moment in front of me but for a brief second I understand just how crap my little exercise routine is and how frail my body has become but when I leave her room it’s all forgotten as I have to concentrate on walking to the car where my husband is circling the drop off area.
My consultant is fantastic, she understands there can be no plans with myalgic encephalomyelitis, she knows I have no control over my body and she never gets upset when I tell her I am nowhere near where we set out to be in our previous meeting. Instead she starts with a new blank sheet, the old one in the bin. To me this is the golden rule of GET, having no set plans.
As I said previously, I am worse now than a year ago, my sleeping pattern went from 12 hours a night to 14 hours. Everything is harder, myalgic encephalomyelitis appears angrier. Is GET the cause? Or is the illness getting worse? Did those crashes hamper some part of me previously untouched by ME?
Beating Breath by Marie H Curran
Some climb mountains
To lose their breath
In clouds of timeless space.
More swim seas amid the foam
Their bodies’ one with waves.
Others race, plunging minds
Increasing lungs and air.
A few will dance beating legs
Music in their breath.
The rest will sit and awe at dreams
Their steps too small to count,
But every step, a beat of breath.