You might have noticed an absence of triathlon training posts recently, and that’s because for the last few weeks I haven’t really done any training! Unfortunately, a couple of weeks ago I found out I had shingles and since then have been pretty wiped out and unable to do much in terms of exercise.
Shingles is an infection of a nerve, often causing the skin around it to erupt in small, painful blisters. If you’ve had chickenpox, then there’s a chance that you could develop shingles in the future as it’s the same virus that remains dormant in the nervous system. The immune system keeps the virus in check, but later in life it can be reactivated and cause shingles.
Shingles is most common in people over 60, but people of any age can be affected. I was told that shingles can be triggered by periods of stress and exhaustion, which I’m pretty sure is what happened to me. Balancing my full-time job, Masters’ degree, yoga teaching, triathlon training and seeing my friends and family has been tough and over the last month I was feeling increasingly exhausted. I knew that I was doing too much but as the kind of person who always over-commits, I didn’t know where I could cut back. It’s ironic that on paper I appear pretty healthy: I eat well, exercise regularly and do yoga – all the things that are recommended to be healthy and stress-free! However, in reality I clearly wasn’t as healthy as I thought, I’d been doing too much of everything and my immune system took the hit.
I had to take a few days off work (which I’ve never done!) as I was in a lot of pain and constantly exhausted. Although the rash has mostly gone, the nerve-pain is still there and I still don’t have much energy. Being made to slow down and rest has been good, as it’s made me assess how I’m living and how I need to make some changes. This is what I have come up with:
- SLEEP MORE: I’m one of those girls who needs at 8 hours sleep a night- 7 at a push. Anything less and I really can’t function and am rather unpleasant to be around. This means that I need to cut down on my 5.30am wake up calls and early morning workouts.
- RELAX: I’m notorious for not being able to relax. I’m guessing that practise makes perfect, so I’ll just have to keep scheduling ‘relaxing’ time into my evenings until it clicks!
- DO MORE YOGA: I love yoga and I know that it makes me feel so much better. When I moved flat a couple of months ago I had to leave my studio, and I really miss it. I still go to classes and practise at home, but I want to start doing 15 minutes in the evening to unwind before bed as I always sleep so well after this.
- EAT WELL: I’ve always had a really healthy diet, full of fruit and veg and whole foods. I know I eat well, but I think I probably need to be thinking more specifically about the kinds of foods I need to be eating to fuel my busy lifestyle.
- BE KINDER TO MYSELF: I’ve always been quite tough on myself and I think this can make me quite stressed. If I miss a training session, get behind on my dissertation or have to cancel on a friend I usually get very cross with myself. I’m having to learn that it’s ok not to be working at 100% the entire time – in fact, it’s completley normal!
- BE LESS ANXIOUS: Jess’ move to the US was making me quite anxious. Apart from the obvious worry about how life will be without her nearby, I’ve been stressing unnecessarily about some ridiculous things: number one, is my fear that there will be an earthquake that she might get caught up in – I know is highly unlikely but worries me none the less. Jess has been good at putting my mind at ease (and telling me to stop being so silly) and once she settles in I’m sure I’ll feel much better about it all. I’m already so excited about going to visit her for 2 weeks in August – Twins on Tour!
I’m hoping that next week I can begin to pick up triathlon training again, but I’ll be conscious of building my fitness back up slowly again.