Monday, March 31, 2008


Race Goal: Santa Barbara Long Course Triathlon. 1 mile swim, 34 mile bike, 10 mile run.

For the next 10 weeks, I will be in base training mode. I will be building distance and duration in my training, keeping my heart rate at aerobic level (111-138). I know that during the first couple of weeks of this stage I will be walking more than running, because I know that my run heart rate is pathetically high (155+!). Hopefully by the end of this stage I will be able to at least jog for a prolonged amount of time within the suggested heart rate zone.

So, yesterday after my little *tantrum,* I stretched, did some upper body strength work, and rested. I just didn't have the strength to go swimming for some reason. I ate well, I iced my hips and shoulders and just rested, did some stuff around my condo, etc...just took it easy.

This morning, I tested my heavy legs on the bike for 25 minutes. I did it because I wanted to see how i felt after getting my bike refitted. I didn't wear my bike shoes with the clips because I wanted to relieve the extra load it puts on my glutes during my upstrokes (or uppedal?), as suggested by Dianna. I just put on my running shoes instead and started spinning as I examined my setup on the bike. NOT BAD. I stretched afterwards and went to work. The next couple of workouts on the bike will be short and easy, maybe increasing the time by 5 minute increments every time... I need to condition my body to get reacclamated to the bike, slowly and steadily, instead of shocking the heck out of it by getting right back on to a 2-hr ride with rolling hills. Ugh, what a disgraceful failure that was. Almost humorous.

At 1230pm, I snuck out of my office and went for that swim I skipped yesterday. It was the perfect timing though, since I biked this morning. :) Maybe i was still tired or something, I felt slow and my strokes were not so well coordinated, in my opinion (instead of gliding through the water, I was pretty bumpy). Oh heck, I mixed in some breast strokes and back strokes so that I wouldn't over load my right shoulder with forward motion (right shoulder still quite vulnerable, with frequent jamming in the rotator cuffs, which causes me to squeal underwater). I think I swam for about 35 minutes. Went crazy in the shower to get back to the office on time before anybody started placing a missing person search on me. Right now, my hip feels looser after that swim and I feel like I've accomplished something.

Last week I skimped on lower-body strength training. So this week I'm going to have to get back into that.

I have a 5k race on Saturday (4/5), which I will try to use as training run, staying in my aerobic heart rate i guess it will be a training "walk." The event is called The Great Race of Agoura Hills, and it is said to have the "Best Post Race Party," voted by racers. Extra motivation always helps.

I haven't really figured out a regular training schedule yet, because I am still working on the right mix of swim/bike/run and strength training, yoga and OFF days. I am thinking of using a 2-week period instead of the usual 1-week period to jam everything in, only because I know i can't squeeze in two workouts/day, let alone daily workouts, like normal healthy people would do. Once I get the hang of that I will try to come up with a weekly schedule. I'll post a sample schedule in the next week or two.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

** Feel Like Giving Up, but that would be Stupid **

Yesterday, I went to my genius sports massage therapist Dianna and got some heavy work done on my shoulders and lower back. Usually, after getting deep tissue work done for a good day or two I'm not supposed to do any heavy lifting or training - even if you wanted to, you would be so sore from the body work there would be no way you could do much of that. This morning, i mean right now, whew~ I am sore. My right shoulder is KILLING me. The spot on the shoulder that overlaps with a trigger point is tight and is aching to the touch. A double-whammy, so to speak.

I am supposed to stretch, I am supposed to pick myself up and go to the pool for some easy swimming to flush the toxins out. I know I'm going to. But right now, to be bluntly honest I really don't feel like moving or doing anything. ANYTHING. Months of this stuff - treatment, pain, recovery, more pain, more making me tired. I don't know how much longer i have to deal with this, and man, it is just enough for me for now, so i think.

BUT of course i know this is temporary. Months seem long, but in the grand scheme of things it is quite temporary. Over the past 4-5 months, my lack of training volume has caused me to put on some extra pounds. Now with these extra pounds i am starting to run and bike all over again. Let me tell you people - the extra weight does not help, not only when it comes to training, but in day to day living, especially for people with fibromylagia, arthritis or any other chronic pain illnesses. If you think about it, extra weight puts extra pressure on our trigger points and joints. It will take us that much more effort to move around - and would we want to do that on already weak, tired and vulnerable muscles? That's why exercising and eating healthy is important. I read in many articles about the high percentage of overweight patients who have chronic pain illnesses. I know it is almost a double-edged sword - it's hard to move around cuz you are in pain, but if you don't do anything you will be in more pain due to weight gain. And of course the heavier you get, the less likely you will be moving around any time soon. But at least if you can't move around you can eat healthy - lots of veggies and fruits, lean protein (fish, chicken), and add a lot antioxidants and vitamins in your diet to fight inflammation and strengthen your immune system. Then you might have some energy and decreased pain levels to go out for a walk. Then you might stop feeling so upset and unpleasant about being in so much pain - and overweight. Then you might start living a little. Maybe smile a little too. We must stop just complaining and blaming it on Fibromyalgia, and be logical, scientific and smart about our approaches in dealing with our pain. That is the only way to live day to day with this thing. It is extra work, and boy do I know that. And yes, today is the day I am about to just drop it all and go stay in my bed all day long. But I know, if i do so I will be defeating myself. What's worse, I will be feeling so bad about myself later today. I am not going to enter that vicious cycle. I just read a piece of information on Runners magazine: "For every two-pound gain in weight, the risk of developing arthritis increase nine to 13%." I bet that for FM patients, the risk multiplies.

I've got a heating pad wrapped around my neck and shoulders as I'm writing this. My entire back feels like I'm laying on a bed of needles. It sucks. It really does - but I also know that I can do some stretches, maybe get a hot bath with epsom salt, rest a little, have a good brunch and take myself to the pool to move around a little. And then I know I will be feeling a lot better - not perfect, but better. Sometimes I wonder, geez why do I have to push myself every day, how did i end up with the responsibility to go the extra mile every single day when others take their every day health for granted... But whatever, this is my reality. I have brought myself up this far over the years, and I didn't just come up with this. It was hard work and it is going to be hard work.

Once I push through this tough time of re-buildup, i will be fine. I am going to drop the weight, I will be fully recovered from my injuries, and I am going to be training full-capacity. I see that future, maybe a little far away than what i had hoped for, but the future is there. I must be patient, consistent and brave. To all of you reading this, I hope you stay on your fight. I hope that you beat the temptation to give up and be sad - and pick yourself up. Not many people know what we go through - but who cares about what other people think, we just have to fight our own battles, and encourage each other as we go through it. Nobody knows, but I know, you know and God knows. This debilitating illness has become the one thing that enables me to do all these positive and healthy things. I know I can turn this bad thing into good, and that's why I'm writing this blog as I'm treating, training and persevering. That is the true path to being a winner - we are not born winners, we are trained to be.

God bless you all, and I hope you are smiling, despite the tears.

** on a totally random note, Nike's Triax running shoes beat Asics, based on my 3-month testing (of course, this is very subjective). Finally, I found a pair of Nike shoes that provides the stability and support I need for my running! Thank you, the gentleman at Nike at the Grove, who endured my thousands of questions and nit-picking, and had me run around in over 5 pairs of shoes to find me the perfect one! **

Monday, March 24, 2008

** Yes, there is a Fine Line... **

This morning before work, I got up and got on the bike to do an easy spin for about 45 minutes. My ego was so shot from Saturday's slow and sluggish ride that I thought i'd recover by adding some more time to my ride. Well, I think i was humbled even further this morning instead - I was fatigued, way fatigued to do anything. I started spinning, and the pedals felt so heavy. My cadence (revolution of the pedals/minute) was barely reaching 76 (i try to keep at mid-80's), my heart rate was exceptionally low but my energy could not be mustered up to bring it up to a healthy aerobic level (around 120bps). I was really struggling.

What am I trying to say here? I learned that there is a very fine line between fatigue and feeling tired. I suppose *fatigue* is when your body cannot be energized by exercise or stretching, and just being tired is a condition you can recover from by exercising or doing something active (even stretching). Sometimes it's hard to tell. The only way you'll know is by trying. After about 20 minutes of forced, miserable spinning on the bike, I got off and just rested while icing my hips. My body was fatigued from a sudden spike in activity - 2 hr bike ride on Saturday, and then yoga on Sunday. The longest aerobic activity i've done in the last 3 months barely lasted an hour.

Today, i was planning on swimming this evening after work. Although I would love to do as planned, my earlier incident tells me maybe my body needs a break. I am going to humble myself and listen to my body. It is a difficult admission to make. I hate not doing what i planned on doing. However, I am hopeful that if i rest tonight, I will have a couple of healthy weeks ahead, instead of a possible breakdown tomorrow. I realize that this is a life-long battle (hopefully not), so i have to be wise about it.

I want to make sure that i communicate to everyone (and to myself) that it is not always wise to just go for it when you feel less than optimal. Some of my previous entries talk about how just trying Yoga made me feel 10 times better than before - here, trying spinning made me feel 10 times worse. Instead of pushing it, i stopped and rested. We can try when we're iffy about our conditions - but ultimately, we have to listen to our body. There is a very fine line, and the only way to find that line is by ... stepping on it a little and pay attention to how we feel, maybe?

And i know that many FM patients such as myself are type-A personalities, so we hate giving up or stopping what we started. We also dislike admitting defeat or admit that we can't do something. BUT one thing i am learning through my battle with fibromyalgia is the discretion to say no when I have to, the patience to wait and prepare for the next upturn, and the wisdom to stop and think. It's still a working progress, but it's progress...

Hey, what can I say, i'm living on the edge, walking on a thin line.... :)

Saturday, March 22, 2008

** Two 5k Runs, First Outdoor Bike Ride, and Strength Training **

Finally, I have a moment to sit down and catch up...

It has been a very busy last several months - work has been non-stop, and it has been challenging for me to maintain my health while juggling work, physical therapy and training. So far, I can't complain. Here are some of the things I've been doing regularly, which I believe have helped me maintain a relatively steady state:

1. Vitamins - i've been taking multivitamins almost every day.
2. Fruit/Antioxidant shake for breakfast: This is a new thing i've been implementing. For the past month or so, I have been making healthy shakes for breakfast - it contains 1 cup of blackberry (i'm allergic to blueberries), 1 cup of milk, a banana, and two scoops of Omega Mix ( and a scoop of Greenergy ( After yoga or a workout in the morning, there is nothing better than this shake that recharges me with carbohydrates and antioxidants. As many of you know, Omega 3 is a key anti-inflammatory nutrient. This shake tastes great and does great things for me.
3. Sleeping aid: Pharmanex's Night Time Formula and Energyfirst's Sleep Aid ( have both been helpful.

4. Yoga and Swimming: on days when my muscles feel tight and stiff, either one of these is what i do, no questions asked. Before, I used to choose to do nothing and just lie down when my muscles felt weak and stiff - i learned that doing Yoga for about 45 minutes really helps release whatever i have been holding in my muscles, a far wiser choice than just lying down. Swimming has been great for my rehab, and helped me facilitate my hip recovery.

On Feb 3 (super bowl sunday) and Feb 23, I run/walked a 5k event. I could only do run/walk intervals, but i still felt great after finishing a race. The good news is that these 5k events didn't set me back at all - my hip was tight and i felt fatigue in some areas, but I recovered quickly and I wasn't hurting at all! I have to thank Dianna Linden, my super sports massage therapist (, who has not only been getting rid of the kinks in my stubborn, tired muscles, but also been amazingly helpful in guiding me through an active recovery process. All I had to do was adhere to her guidance as to what to do and what NOT to do while still training. Thanks to her, I am officially off physical therapy, and I am kicking off my official training season. Thank you Dianna!

I am still stretching and icing EVERY DAY. I have made it a point to stretch every morning when i get up, even when I am not training. I have learned that my muscles take more to recover from a workout, my muscles need more care than others - if you are a fibromyalgia patient and exercising regularly, i highly recommend active stretching. Yes, ACTIVE, proactive stretching. Stretch before and after a workout. Stretch when you are watching TV. Stretch when you are not doing anything.

So...I have just started my full-season strength training program with Phase IV ( I guess i can say that i have replaced physical therapy with strength training sessions - always something new to do! Seriously, years of running and cycling have used up my muscles, and little did i know that I needed to do enough strength training to replenish my muscle losses. I was just piling up mileage on weakening muscles! Having learned my lesson the hard way, I have committed to learning how to do adequate strength training to get me prepared for longer runs and rides. I will have more updates on this over the next month or two.

Last update but not least, I finally was able to go on my first outdoor bike ride today - the first in MONTHS since the 2nd coming of my hip injury in November. It was only 20 miles, at a very humbling 13mile/hr average. My back was a bit challenged and I was hurting here and there, but overall i survived it and I stretched like crazy and iced afterwards. I hope to get up to 17-18 mph on flats in the next two months, without compromising the heart rate (stay at 120-130 bpm). I have a lot of work cut out for me, i know. It is a bit discouraging to see myself spinning so slowly even at my best, but I am just starting to build up again so I have to just get through this. I have the next 12 weeks to just be patient and keep going, building a strong base.

There is a lot going on, and there is a lot i need to focus on. The main focus is to maintain consistent and patient. I appreciate every small improvement on a day to day basis - however, i do have days when i feel so small and slow and pathetic, just struggling not to stay bed-ridden. At the end, we all have to keep going forward. I have many people that encourage me to keep going - so thank you! Your emails have been such a HUGE motivation for me.

OH I almost forgot - please check out for more inspiration - this woman, Sirena, is embarking on an amazingly courageous journey. You MUST read it to find out! I am so inspired by her courage and determination, and I am hoping to join her in one of her hikes. :) Please give her your support!!!!

I promise not to take so long to give the next update... hope everyone is doing well.