For our workout this week we had our fitness test. We do a bunch of strength exercises to see where we’re at and how many reps and whatnot we should be doing for our strength training. We also do a heart rate/conditioning test. This involves running an approximately 1k loop at four different speeds maintaining an even heart rate for the loop and graphing the time vs. heart rate. The first loop is a brisk walk and the last is all out.
I had not been looking forward to this test. For the last year I’ve felt tired, heavy and sluggish and my heart rates have been higher than normal. I think this has been due to the tamoxifen I’m on and after the Birkie I spoke to my doctor about it and she recommended that I stop taking it for a month or two and see if I felt better. Of course I knew that taking a break from the drug during the off-season would tell me much about how it was affecting my training, but I'd had a lot of fatigue generally and felt like I was dragging myself around the whole day so I was eager to see if I would feel better for daily life as well. The drug has a long half-life and it took a few weeks before I noticed a change, but then I felt like a new woman. I had so much energy! I’d forgotten what ‘normal’ actually felt like, and it felt great. So that pretty much confirmed that the tamoxifen was wiping me out. I had agreed with my doctor to start taking it again at a much lower dose so I cut the pills into quarters and resumed the drug. Within a couple days I was feeling tired again, not completely wiped like before, but tired enough that it greatly diminished my quality of life and I knew I couldn’t spend four more years like that. (I’m supposed to be on it for 5 years.) I was pretty dejected because the stats are very clear on the significant reduction of recurrence risk. I wasn’t ready to give up yet so I decided to take a quarter pill every other day and see how that went. It’s going pretty well and I feel mostly normal. We’ll see how it affects my training as the season gets under way. I feel fairly confident that the dose is still enough to be effective because I can feel a distinct difference in how the breast tissue feels on and off the drug. So I figure if it still feels like it does at the higher doses, then it must be doing it’s job.
Back to the running test… So I ran the test and I didn’t feel as bad as I had feared I would. I actually felt mostly OK and was pleased with the test. Then reality reared it’s ugly head. Today Dave showed me a graph of all the tests I’ve done over the years. (We try to repeat this regularly to monitor changes in conditioning.) He was trying to show me how each year I improve from the Spring test to the Fall but that wasn’t what caught my eye. It turns out that the test I just did was EXACTLY the same as the first test I did 6 years ago when I had just started training after taking more than 10 years off. Exactly. So I guess I’m back to square one. I’m resigned to the work I have ahead of me and plan to just buck up and buckle down and do what I have to do. After feeling so awful all last year I don’t mind. I’m just glad that I think I’ll be able to feel good again. Training is actually fun when you feel good doing it. So even though I’ve got my work cut out for me, I’m hopeful for coming year.