sport

Injuries: There’s always a way

In a few days time, a full year will have passed since I fell from my bike and dislocated my shoulder on a short training trip in Belgium. The following months were awful: I had chronic pain and rather than heal, my shoulder got worse. Eventually I was told that I had frozen shoulder. It was affecting everything. No matter how close I held my shoulder to my body, running led to shoulder pain so I had to stop. Cycling and swimming were out of the question. I couldn’t even drive. I was saved by a shoulder operation to break away the scar tissue that had formed inside my joint, preventing it from moving. Then I had to deal with weeks on end of real, chronic pain and physiotherapy. But I was determined to get better and to keep as much of the range in my shoulder joint as possible. That meant persevering with the painful, daily exercises.

The operation was in January this year. Since then, I did lots of training and participated in three triathlons, two of them Olympic-distance. I probably reached the fittest I had ever been. I recall saying the exact same thing just after I dislocated my shoulder and feeling utterly distressed because of all the fitness I would lose for lack of continuity in training. It’s different now. I’ve had a knee injury since the beginning of August and a shin splint just wanting to make a guest appearance on the Nadia show. Both of them have meant that I had to become very conservative in my training and when that didn’t make them go away, I stopped running, cycling and any gym-related work that put pressure/stress on my knee.

Now, that shoulder that kept me from doing anything at all not so long ago is one of the few things that’s allowing me to keep active.  (more…)

My magic-bubble treatment for PMS and anxiety

I hate what PMS does to me.

In recent years, probably over the past decade, I’ve become a more anxious person. I’ve learned coping mechanisms to deal with anxiety, but it’s an exhausting state to be in. PMS takes my base anxiety levels and shoots them through the roof.

The good thing is that I’m aware of this and that helps me mentally manage it. The bad thing is that I have to live through a state of inner turmoil caused by high-wired chemicals and hormones.

How does one explain what it’s like?

When I’m PMSing, it feels like there’s a small electric undercurrent moving through my body. I feel the slightest bit nauseous. It feels like something bad is about to happen. Since I don’t know what that bad thing might be, my brain wants to identify something bad for me so that I can put logic to the way I feel. That means my brain starts acting all stupid. It’s like a computer is turned on in my head that starts sifting through all the data of the things happening in my life and it then lights up certain data in particular, deciding these three things must be the cause of how I feel.

When I’m not feeling anxious, when I’m not PMSing, those three things won’t even catch my attention. But when I’m anxious and PMSing, they turn into huge issues that need to be dealt with and need to be resolved.

The good thing is that I’m usually conscious of all this so I do my very best to process the data and put it into its proper context. (more…)

Smashing the UK national three-peak challenge

Ever since I was a little girl…

…is NOT where the story of this next grand adventure begins.

In fact, I can think of only one grand adventure of mine (which happened not to be sport or activity related) that originated in my childhood. I’m constantly coming up with new dreams and new ideas for adventures.

This story actually starts here:

I'm not sure which mountain this was taken on. The backgrounds in our pictures on all three summits are almost identical. Let's just say it was bleak.

I’m not sure which mountain this was taken on. The backgrounds in our pictures on all three summits are almost identical. Let’s just say it was bleak.

Ever since about four years ago when I first heard of the UK’s national three-peaks challenge, I’ve wanted to give it a go.

I have no idea who thought of this idea or when. I’m not even going to look it up to tell you about it because to me, that part is irrelevant. The national three-peaks challenge is about hiking up the three highest mountains in Scotland, England and Wales in a period of 24 hours.

It’s not an official race. There are no official times. There aren’t marshals or registration forms. There’s no one to announce you’ve accomplished the task. There are no certificates at the end or event T-shirts. There isn’t a specific day to do it, although I hear throngs of people choose to do it on June 21, the longest day of the year.

You just go out and do it.

I’ve been nagging my husband ever since I heard of this being “a thing” that we go and do it ourselves. He had already done it twice. He wasn’t enthusiastic in any way to do it a third time. I couldn’t understand why. My husband is huge on physical activities and challenges. But after four years of nagging and an opportune relatively free summer, he obliged.

He put together a team of five. It’s better to have a few people with you because the challenge involves an incredible amount of driving. Only days before our set date, two of the five pulled out, leaving us with a small team of three: me, my husband, and one of his work colleagues who also, it just so happens, was our third team member on our grand cycle from London to Paris in three days only three years ago.

I knew the national three-peaks challenge would be challenging. It wouldn’t be called a challenge otherwise. (more…)

Mind Games

A 20-kilometer bike ride for a cyclist is like putting chewing gum in your mouth and spitting it out. It’s

This picture is probably a year old. Today it was dreary out. No sun. But I was wrapped up just as warmly.

This picture is probably a year old. Today it was dreary with no sun. There were no lakes in the background. But I was wrapped up just as warmly.

nothing. A 20-kilometer bike ride for me when I’m fit isn’t as easy as spitting out chewing gum but it’s a nice morning’s ride. Today’s 20-kilometer bike ride was a really big deal.

Today was the first time for me to be on my bike since I got frozen shoulder sometime in November 2015 and subsequently did an operation mid-January 2016. It’s the second time I’ve been on my bike since I fell and dislocated my shoulder in October 2015.

My husband sort of cajoled me into it. We’d cycle into the nearby village and have a nice lunch, he said. He knows that food is my weak point. I knew I had to get back on my bike sometime and I knew my shoulder could handle the 20-kilometer round trip. I also knew my real challenge would be mental.

Once you’ve been through the mind games a couple of times you know what to expect and you know you can handle them.

Today, cycling downhill felt like I was about to summersault down the hill. Every pothole and drain looked exactly like a Nadia-eating woman trap, designed specifically (of course) for Nadia. Building up speed felt like an invitation to a horrible slip. And cars passing by were all the enemy.

But I recognized every single one of those thoughts from previous experiences. When I first started cycling as an adult about three or four years ago, those were the thoughts that went through my head. When I started challenging myself with my cycling, those were the thoughts that went through my head. When I fell off my bike the first and second times and got back up again, those were the thoughts that went through my head. And when I went out on my bike for the first time after my shoulder dislocation, those were the thoughts that went through my head.

I recognized every single thought and knew how to dampen them out. (more…)

It’s not all about the glory but it helps

It’s not all about the glory.

But the seconds or minutes of glory that we sometimes get make all the other times bearable or even worthwhile.

Promise me you’ll do yourself a favor: Choose something that you feel is really important to accomplish. See it through to the very end no matter how hard it is. Revel in the glory of your accomplishment. Then remember that feeling when the hard times hit. You won’t regret it. I promise.

You don’t have to get gold in the Olympics or produce a number one hit single to feel the glory, by the way. Little things work too.

Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn to make a two-tiered cake. Do it. And revel in the glory your kids will give you.

Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn a language. Or get a degree in something. Or start a small business of your own.

Maybe you simply want to get fit and never thought for a second that you’d be able to run a whole ten kilometers. (more…)

Dealing with self-pity over frozen shoulder

I’ll bet you’ve always wondered how The Nadia would handle self-pity over a post-traumatic frozen shoulder.

That’s why I’m going to tell you how she handles it:

  1. She gets told by her physiotherapist that, as a result of a shoulder dislocation two months ago, she now has frozen shoulder. This means that rather than taking six weeks to three months in order to heal, it could take anywhere between one to three years. In the meantime, she will have limited range of motion in her shoulder joint and pain.
  2. She goes home, writes herself an excellent pep talk on Facebook, listens to some great music, and feels like she’s on top of the world.
  3. She wakes up the next morning feeling like she’d rather not get out of bed. When she does, she can’t get any work done. She sits in front of her laptop for a full two hours getting absolutely nothing done.
  4. So she writes a blog post to tell the whole world how sorry she’s feeling for herself.
  5. She decides she’s not going to the gym today just because. In fact, she’s not going to do ANYTHING today.
  6. She goes to the gym because she knows nothing good has ever come from not going to the gym.
  7. She decides since she has gone to the gym, she’s going to get the heaviest weight she knows she can handle for all the non-shoulder-related exercises.
  8. She discovers today’s gym class is all about the shoulders and she starts doubting her understanding that nothing good ever comes from not going to the gym.
  9. The gym instructor is nice. She gives The Nadia alternative exercises, half of which she still can’t do. The Nadia starts feeling even more frustrated than when she woke up. She starts focusing on creating super biceps and triceps.
  10. Everybody else is told to do push-ups. The Nadia decides she’ll try to hold a plank. She can’t because it’s too much pressure on her bad shoulder. So she decides to teach herself how to do a one-handed plank. Maybe by the end of this ordeal she’ll be the only one in that class who can do one.
  11. The class ends and The Nadia has hardly broken a sweat. She’s angry. She decides she’s not even going to take a shower.
  12. On her way home, The Nadia laments her cycling days. Even though the physiotherapist has told her she can get back on the bike, she’s been reluctant to because she doesn’t want to fall. First, because falling is now even more scary than it used to be. Second, because falling would mean making her bad shoulder even worse, which she could do without.
  13. The Nadia gets home, puts her gym bag on the floor, gets her cycling jacket and helmet out, grabs her bike, and starts cycling, thinking FUCK THIS! I’M GOING TO GET ON THIS BIKE AND CYCLE!
  14. The Nadia sees every crack in the road as a potential bike trap. But she keeps cycling.
  15. The Nadia discovers that, although there is some pressure on the bad shoulder, it’s not as bad as she expected. She does have to relieve the pressure on it every now and then, but a one-hour ride turns out to be doable.
  16. She gets home in one piece, wraps herself up in her fleece robe, and writes a blog post to tell the whole world that she might be feeling sorry for herself, but she FUCKING AIN’T GOING TO LET THAT HOLD HER BACK!

And that, my dear friends, is how The Nadia deals with self-pity.

Frozen shoulder, frozen brain, flowing emotions

Two months ago, I dislocated my shoulder after falling from my bike when my wheel got caught in a tram

The day after the fall, making our way to Amsterdam by train instead of bike.

The day after the fall, making our way to Amsterdam by train instead of bike.

track. I’ve seen very little improvement since then. In fact, yesterday things took a turn for the worse and my physiotherapist told me I have frozen shoulder. I’ve been losing range of movement in my shoulder. At first, I could move my shoulder in any direction. But movement in certain directions would cause the head of my humerus, the upper arm bone, to wobble and physically crackle within the joint. So I was told not to move my arm in any direction that would cause this. I needed to allow my soft tissue to heal properly. Doctors and physiotherapists worry about recurrence of dislocation with shoulders. Some doctors, I’ve been told, completely prevent any sort of physical activity with the arm in order to allow it to completely heal. I’ve been quite active but only doing the things that don’t cause pain or a wobbling joint.

Anyway, the things I used to be able to do after the injury, like swimming the breast stroke or putting my hair in a pony tail, I can no longer do.

My physiotherapist told me I have to wait for it to get worse before it gets better. (more…)

I am a champion!

I am STOKED.

Crossing the finish line and feeling strong!

Crossing the finish line and feeling strong!

I’m on a triathlon high.

I feel like I’m finally understanding all the athletic-related lessons I’ve been learning, especially those of the past three years.

I can now enter races without thinking about all the faster people who easily pass me.

I’m learning how to focus—and my focus is all on me and no one else.

I now understand that getting through a race and doing well in it takes serious work and dedication. I understand that if I want to improve, I need to work even harder.

I understand that I have so much more in me if I’m willing to adapt my schedule and give time and hard work to luring it out.

I feel like a champion! I feel like a champion even though I still finish races in an average or more likely below average ranking.

I feel like a champion because I’m learning how to overtake myself and how to overcome my weaknesses and anxieties.

Today I did the Dam ‘ard Triathlon in Halifax, UK, and I feel DAMNED GOOD!  (more…)