Viewing entries tagged
recovery

Kettle Crest Trail recovery

The Kettle Range: Barnaby Buttes, Snow, Sherman, Columbia, Wapaloosie, Copper, and Profanity

The Kettle Range: Barnaby Buttes, Snow, Sherman, Columbia, Wapaloosie, Copper, and Profanity

Many of you have been asking how my physical recovery from the Kettle Crest Trail went this time around. My spirit experienced the running culmination of this event in epic hallucinations where I became Raven and even stranger things. While I've been wildly ruminating on the existential aspects of the experience, which are vast and still needing more time to process, my body quickly integrated the event.

The Kettle Crest Trail encompasses about forty-six miles (“about” because estimates range from forty-one to forty-eight and the trail sorely needs re-mapping) and about 8,000 feet gain between elevations of 4,800 feet and 7,200 feet. Unlike other epic mountain runs I’ve enjoyed like the Wonderland or any number of long routes in the Rockies, the KCT is a wily journey and often indistinct or unmaintained. Two old wildfire scars sling their black and silver remnants over the trail. In my seven runs on the Crest I’ve encountered five bears and three moose. The North Kettles are wolf country and are also challenging to navigate due to a recent fire there which has allowed brush to encroach on the faint path. Running this year, I saw a total of two people over the course of the better part of a day.

As with my last run on the Kettle Range in 2017, the latent effects of fetomaternal microchimerism rendered me unable to get sore. The female body is the ultimate endurance machine.

On last year’s run, I was forced by a great dearth of water on the trail to drink from a cattle trough. Consequently, I got giardia (my fourth bout with those little fuckers since 2009) and so my internal recovery from the run took until my course of antibiotics was over a few weeks later. This year, though, I armed myself with iodine tablets and thankfully my gut has felt solid since completing the run.

The day after the run I took a recovery hike. The day after that I took an easy run. The day after that my legs made me run like I was possessed––bottomless energy once again even after the FKT rolled out of me. Though I have attempted to turn my energy to climbing once again, my fire for running continues to burn and so I’ve spent six days a week hammering dust with joyful feet.

Most remarkably, my period has maintained its thirty day cycles. I strategically programmed this run to happen on the summer solstice in the first days of my luteal phase, knowing that I’d have ample light, lots of energy, and given that I’d have already ovulated it was unlikely that the big effort would disrupt my cycle.

Finally, last year I ran about five pounds lighter and my autonomic nervous system was a good deal more sensitive. In advance of my 2017 run, I found it difficult to fall or stay asleep and I functioned in a slight sleep deficit for most of the summer. Through winter 2017/2018 I packed on about ten pounds, downed an indica edible every night, and built more consistent bedtime habits. As a result, this year I slept well all but the night before the event (because I was just so damned excited to run). In the taper leading up to the event, I clocked about eleven and a half hours of sleep a night plus naps three days a week.

 

read more:

Perfecting the Taper

Psychedelia

Rest

When rest goes from being something that perches in the leftover hours between work and sleep (and houscleaning and child-rearing and volunteering and commuting, and so on, ad infinitum) to being something that you claim for yourself, it becomes more valuable and tangible. The very act of making specific plans helps make a goal feel more realistic and accessible, and gives you a clearer sense of its value. Deliberate rest is not a negative space defined by the absence of work or something that we hope to get up to sometime. It is something positive, something worth cultivating in its own right.
— Alex Soojung-Kim Pang "Rest"

Perfecting the taper

golden hour on the Kettle Crest, cr. David Moskowitz

As I transition into the quiet time before a storm of movement on yet another multi-year project, I have been revisiting my own advice on the art of the taper.

Tapering involves a relaxation and turning inward of the mind, body, and habit; it may last from a few days to six weeks depending on the event. During my various tapers for rock projects, expeditions, alpine climbs, and long runs I've developed a few transferrable strategies to make sure I'm well-rested and prepared for the big event.

 

Timing: Training too hard too early before your intended event can be just as detrimental to event-day (or month) performance as not training enough in advance. Finding the right balance of loading on the volume and backing off, track your various tapers and performance during events religiously. Reflect critically after the dust has settled following each event. You will, in time, learn the proper amount of time your body needs to rest before each event. A note: the time and type of taper necessary will vary within the athlete based on the kind of event undertaken. For example, I taper differently for an ultra than I do for a climbing objective.

Rest: Allow your body to cycle into as deep a state of rest as the event requires. For an endurance event, allow yourself to go to the state of rest where you're peeing a lot, sleeping more than normal, and don't feel motivation to train. Ideally, the body cycles through this state and back into an impatience for movement and more normal sleep patterns prior to the event. In addition to what one might normally think of as rest such as less training and more sleeping, try to eliminate excess items from your calendar or take a couple preparatory days off from work. Time away from stress, even productive or good stress, is necessary to allow your mind to prepare.

Insulation: Perhaps the least-practiced and most important part of tapering. To allow the most regenerative pre-event experience, this introvert avoids excess social contact, introductions to new people, new experiences, and most media during the taper period. Take a social media vacation in advance of your event - and delete the dang apps off your phone so you don't cheat. According to the event, it may also be nice to insulate oneself from the cold in order to prepare for some extended time out in the elements - this provides a time of coziness to harken back to when chilled to the bone and moving. This period is a safe island isolated from the intensity of training and event.

Reduce inflammation: Remove all alcohol, drugs, and food allergens from your diet - for real. The one exception to this tip is cannabis. If your body relaxes under the influence of CBD or canna, indulge at this time. It is preferable to ingest it in tincture or edible format. A couple supplements that can smooth the path to anti-inflammatory state are this one and a regular ol dose of turmeric

Self-care: Good self-care is always a key to high athletic achievement, but becomes acutely so in this final period. Through your final massage and acupuncture visits, note your body's energetic tank filling, perhaps even track it in your training journal. Depending on the seriousness of the event, consider updated blood work and a visit with your primary care doctor to be sure everything is in prime order. Continue your meditation practice, even deepen it at this time. Use delicious, whole foods to nourish the body and mind. For my clients who are in the know, the Owl Eyes exercise is indicated at this time.

Reaffirmation: In your meditations and lucidity sessions, visualize the exact sequence of your project, fly over the mountain you're about to climb, or let your feet touch the bends in the trail you'll travel. Feel yourself strong and vital as you complete your event and imagine the states of mind you'll need to cultivate for each stage of performance. You've committed to preparation for this event now review the goal and your path. This practice helps me see how far I've come and instills in me greater confidence in my ability to achieve the impossible.

Logistics: Practice packing for your event well in advance. In the process, you'll likely note a few items that could use repair or that you still need to purchase. This is cruicial for expeditions and self-supported events. Review your map or itinerary - the physical one and the topo in your head. As you conduct these final preparations, take a few shakedown runs, climbs, or rides just to keep the qi moving.

Recovery: Recovery begins with pre-event preparation. Clean your space to prepare for your return home. Collect your favorite recovery foods - even consider preparing them so they are ready to eat at the end of the event. Bring your most comfortable post-event clothing. On expeditions for the time between getting off the mountain and returning to the US, I find it nourishing to have a few touches of home like nice street clothes or my favorite chocolate. For endurance events, I have a favorite pair of lush sweatpants that I only wear post-run and find myself looking forward to during the event. 

 

I hope you've found this useful. If you'd like to learn more, visit my Coaching page and sign up for a consult on the topic of recovery. Resting is a vital element of athletic progression and I'm happy to lead you through these steps.

Meg Reburn BScH RM client interview - Mistress Yinness

Trigger alert: If you have a history of disordered eating and/or body dysmorphia, skip this episode. I care about your health.

 
You helped me see how I can bring more yin into my practice as an athlete.
— Meg Reburn

Topics discussed in this episode:

3:20 The great generalist
4:30 Nutrition + hormone balance
6:25 “How long did you go without menstruating?”
8:57 On processing trauma
9:25 How Meg and I worked together
11:25 Yin practices while in motion

 

More about Meg:

Meg's website

Meg's Instagram

 

Related posts:

Meg's guest post

Menstruation doping

Why rest? By Lydia Zamorano

Client profile series

Rest, Recovery, and Athletic Performance According to Your Element

Happy Friday readers,

In 2012 I was a full-time athlete and full-time desk job haver and I was out of balance. My gut was pissed after a recent trip to the Andes and Patagonia, my mind was mush because of my over-programmed life; I felt like I was constantly stealing time from one activity to give to another and I had no concept of self-care.

Upon discovering that I had brought yet another amoeba back from South America, I began seeing Dr. Liz for weekly treatments. Together, we applied every medical trick in the book to squash the little gut demons. Along the way, through our journey involving acupuncture, herbs, pharmaceuticals, counseling, and osteopathic work, I began to contact my internal balance point for the first time. Dr. Liz likes to say that once you get a glimpse of your balanced self it is really uncomfortable to be out of balance again and that certainly rang true for me.

The beginning of our treatments in 2012 also marked the beginning of this business and my slow transition away from my harried life in the city. My days of working hard at a desk job for a few years to save for an expedition, going on said expedition, and returning to the desk sick, tired, and broke were over; I was determined to find a permanent way to be in the hills while making time to grow a business and, eventually, to have a child. Together Dr. Liz and I discovered some amazing ways to work with my Metal constitution in order to bring my over-worked body into balance.

I will be forever grateful for her gentle, thorough approach and I'm so excited to share an informative guest post from her with you today.

Brittany Raven

PS: Be sure to listen to our audio interview!


Use the Wisdom of Chinese Medicine to Improve Your Training

Guest post by Dr. Liz Carter

A sure-fire way to up your training game is to learn more about yourself. Specifically, your own internal motivations, behavioral tendencies, and stressors. The 5 elements of Chinese medicine - wood, fire, earth, metal, and water - are the perfect tool for the deep introspection and growth that’s necessary for self-improvement.

Chinese medicine posits that we are reflections of nature and nature is a reflection of us, so it is possible to look to our natural environment in order to understand more about ourselves. If we are Metal, we’re like the mountains, if we’re Water we’re like a river or the sea. Pretty amazing, right? It’s even more amazing when you realize how accurate it is.

We each have two elements that influence and shape us the most (MN Note: I am Metal/Fire!), but we are able to access all five to a certain extent when we’re in a healthy state. The elements can show us so many things about ourselves, like how well we can go with the flow of life, why we’re awful or awesome and planning, and what kind of athlete we are.

How do you find out your elements? You might be able to tell what you are just from my descriptions in this blog! For a more professional option, you can see a 5 Elements acupuncturist who will diagnose and treat based on your elements. Make sure they are trained in 5 Elements, as the majority of acupuncturists are trained in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine which is not at all traditional, but that’s another discussion).

You can also check out my 5 Elements Personality Test that will tell you your two elements and provide you gobs of fascinating stuff about your core self, like what motivates and depletes you, what belongs in your life and what you need to let go of, and how to stay true to your foundational values. Use this link for $20 off.

 
 

All right, let’s get into these elements and what they mean for your performance and recovery.

 

Wood

Performance:

Wood elements are workhorses and generally very robust in terms of athletic ability. They’re naturally drawn to movement because it relieves this angsty, frustrated, irritable feeling they are the prone to (more than any other element), so they’ve most likely been physical or athletic from a very young age. Movement acts as their main coping mechanism for stress and they often prefer more intense forms of exercise in order to really break up their stagnant energy. Wood elements are very logical and great planners, so they can stick to routine easily (sometimes a little too easily) and they love problem-solving and new, intense challenges.

Rest and recovery ability: challenged

Wood elements are not good at rest and recovery. With movement as a primary mechanism for stress relief, they turn to it often, even when they’re depleted. There’s a lot in this world that causes them to be irritable and stressed -- crappy foods, environmental toxin exposure (fabric softener should be banned!), alcohol, people who don’t think in a logical manner, and more. Wood people can become addicted to movement as a result because it gives them such relief and if something feels good they may ask themselves, “Why would I stop?”

Pro Tips:

The key for wood is to find balanced movement because it’s very easy for them to overdo it and make themselves vulnerable to injury. They’re used to feeling invincible with movement, so they really have to stay in touch with themselves and their abilities and not get wrapped up in assuaging this daily irritation with movement as their only tool. It’s crucial that they explore other ways to generate movement in their lives, like journaling or creativity, and start reducing the mental, emotional, and physical irritants that cause their unrest in the first place.

 

Fire

Performance:

Fires love freedom and spontaneity, so they’re jazzed to take on new challenges in almost any realm. They’re very lighthearted, free-spirited people that like to collect experiences. They have a relaxed and casual attitude about life, which often means they’re excellent athletes. They don’t have preconceived notions about their abilities many times and they’ll try anything. Fires are definitely a “why not?” type of mindset rather than a “why?” type of mindset. The key for fire is fun. Something has to bring them joy and offer them connection to others for them to want to participate. Fires love to be around people (even the introverted ones) and get great joy from social experiences, athletic activities included.

Rest and recovery: detached

Fires tend to lose their ground easily. They get caught up in the moment, especially if there are other people involved, and they stop paying attention to their own internal signals. They’re the type who jump first and ask questions later. This can get them into lots of pickles, including massively overdoing it with training or events and injuring themselves. If they had stopped to consider the consequences for a second they could have averted the mess. But with their go-with-the-flow attitude they can usually recover gracefully and will absolutely love telling the crazy story later to their friends.

Pro Tips:

Fires have to stay grounded and in touch with themselves, otherwise they open themselves up to injury. If they’re chronically scattered, either on the trail they’re running or in their training schedule something’s bound to take a turn for the worse. Speaking of schedules, fires are not a fan. They feel stifled with too much structure, so a healthy training plan involves switching things up a lot and trying new routes and activities. While exercising, it can be helpful to set a timer every 10 minutes as a mental checkpoint to assess what’s happening in your body and make sure it’s still within your limits. Another way to ground is by communing with nature. If you’re running on a trail, stop at the large trees, feel their bark, take a moment to wonder and check in with yourself.


Earth

Performance:

Earth elements aren’t typically drawn to ultra-athleticism, but they can certainly be talented athletes. Earth enjoys comfort and nurturing others. So they often like to stay in their comfort zone and will only push themselves out of it if they’re doing it for someone else. So if a good friend is really into ultra running, maybe they’ll consider it. Earth is also very sensitive, in-tune with themselves, and grounded, so they can push themselves hard, but they’re not going to make progress as fast as other elements who might regularly push beyond their boundaries. Earth’s training would naturally include more down time and rest. Earth people are very uncomfortable with conflict so they generally dislike competition. They’d rather have everyone get along and they’ll extricate themselves from situations where people don’t.

Rest and recovery: good

Earth knows how to stay grounded and in touch with themselves. I mean, they are literally the ground in the natural world! So they understand how to rest, recover, and nurture themselves better than any other element. But athletic culture doesn’t really support these traits so they often don’t feel particularly welcome. They don’t need to be first or the best, just supported and in harmony with others.

Pro Tips:

Earth elements need to make sure they are training for themselves, not a friend or a trainer/coach. They need to feel good about what they’re doing for themselves, otherwise they’ll grow to resent the others they feel are pushing them too hard. In essence, they have to learn to speak up for their needs. And sometimes earth needs a kick in the pants to push themselves out of their comfort zone to make progress.

 

Metal

Performance:

Metal elements are very adept athletes from the structured, regimented, very focused perspective. They love details, planning, and analysis, so they’re the data nerds, tracking everything meticulously. Wood can do this too, but not usually to the same level. You need discipline, structure, focus, and determination to be a great athlete and metal elements have this in spades. They also have a very strong spiritual side and tend to find great meaning in the pursuits that deeply define their life. They have an affinity for beauty and aesthetics so being active outside in nature can be very soothing.

Rest and recovery: challenged

Metal elements can get very rigid and dogmatic about their schedule because structure is their comfort zone. They start paying more attention to their schedule than they do their own internal cues. They are also perfectionists, so they put immense pressure on themselves to stick to their schedule and make sure their data is trending the right way. Their determination and focus can blind them to what they actually need.

Pro-Tips:
Metal elements need to back off the internal pressure they put on themselves to achieve and allow for ups and downs in energy and training. We are not linear robots; the body has natural rhythms and we need to respect them. Metal elements have to learn to listen to their bodies rather than adhering to an arbitrary training schedule. In other words, if you’re tired, rest.

 

Water

Performance:

Water elements are drawn to extreme sports and adventure because they are thrill seekers. They really enjoy pushing their limits and finding that adrenaline rush. For a water, there is a deep-seated fear of their ability to survive, so they will push harder and harder to prove that they can. There are a lot of water athletes out there because the athletic mindset and community mirrors their natural tendencies. It builds them up and praises their extremeness, their love of competition, and their daringness. Water elements also seem to have massive energy reserves, like a wood, and can push beyond normal limits. All elements can do this, but water does this routinely and pathologically. At the base of all the bravado is fear and insecurity.

Rest and recovery ability: most challenged

Waters more than any element don’t know how to rest. They will push themselves to the brink of collapse. I’ve also seen other elements do this, but because water people live in the extremes, they tend to crash harder and take longer to recover. Water’s don’t want to admit their own limitations so they try to control their bodies. They are the essence of the “push through the pain” mentality of athletes because they truly believe they are the masters of their body’s signals.

Pro Tips:

Water elements have to learn to slow themselves down and listen. The body is wise and is always sending you information and you have to pay attention. You can’t always overrule it. Take a step back from the push and try slower activities. Let go of the fear that’s pushing you and embrace more calm and joy. Fear is our most powerful driver and has the strongest grip on water elements out of all the elements. But it can’t be turned on 24/7 otherwise waters will burn out and injure themselves. Work toward a sustainable practice with slower, more gentle and peaceful activities integrated in.

 

I hope this post gave you a little more insight into yourself and what you need for rest and recovery. As you may have noticed, most elements are challenged in their ability to slow down and recover. This difficulty is highly influenced by our own cultural biases and especially the athletic culture of pushing-doing-going-never-stop-until-you-die. 

When your elements are balanced, it’s much easier to disengage from these behavior tendencies (which are actually defense mechanisms) and toxic cultural influences and really get to the core of yourself and your own needs. When the slate is cleared, you start to see yourself in the mountains, rivers, trees, ground, and sparks of life surrounding you in nature and the universe.
 

Jeff Shapiro client interview - The Process-Oriented Athlete

I have the most pure adventures when I’m in an arena where no one is watching and no one cares.
— Jeff Shapiro

Mark Twight obviously had not met Jeff Shapiro when he famously criticized the idea of being a Renaissance man as 'dilettante bullshit'. Jeff's incurable curiosity has led him to the highest peaks of the world to establish first ascents, took his desire to fly to the extreme by learning to wingsuit BASE jump (establishing many first exits), hunts in the company of a hawk named Cirrus, and loves the heck out of his family. It has been a joy to collaboratively coach Jeff - especially to witness how quickly and humbly he integrates new information whether about his gait or his recovery practices.

In our interview Jeff talks about why he is training for this summer's X-Pyr event, a paragliding and running event that traverses the entire length of the Pyrenees Mountains, and how he maintains his praxis as a process-oriented athlete even during competitive events. Listen in and get stoked.

Brittany Raven

3:31 Nested goal-setting

4:43 “My place means nothing to me”

6:12 Goal-setting and motivation

7:30 “Doing more with less”

8:50 Beauty and mindfulness

11:27 Collaborative coaching

13:20 The goal of recovery

 

Resources:

Jeff's Instagram

X-Pyr Event

Mountain Project

Perfecting the taper

Tapering involves a relaxation and turning inward of the mind, body, and habit; it may last from a few days to six weeks depending on the event. During my various tapers for rock projects, expeditions, alpine climbs, and long runs I've developed a few transferrable strategies to make sure I'm well-rested and prepared for the big event.

 

Rest: Allow your body to cycle into as deep a state of rest as the event requires. For an endurance event, allow yourself to go to the state of rest where you're peeing a lot, sleeping more than normal, and don't feel motivation to train. Ideally, the body cycles through this state and back into an impatience for movement and more normal sleep patterns prior to the event. In addition to what one might normally think of as rest such as less training and more sleeping, try to eliminate excess items from your calendar or take a couple preparatory days off from work. Time away from stress, even productive or good stress, is necessary to allow your mind to prepare.

Insulation: Perhaps the least-practiced and most important part of tapering. To allow the most regenerative pre-event experience, this introvert avoids excess social contact, introductions to new people, new experiences, and most media during the taper period. According to the event, it may also be nice to insulate oneself from the cold in order to prepare for some extended time out in the elements - this provides a time of coziness to harken back to when chilled to the bone and moving. This period is a safe island isolated from the intensity of training and event.

Self-care: Good self-care is always a key to high athletic achievement, but becomes acutely so in this final period. Through your final massage and acupuncture visits, note your body's energetic tank filling, perhaps even track it in your training journal. Depending on the seriousness of the event, consider updated blood work and a visit with your primary care doctor to be sure everything is in prime order. Continue your meditation practice, even deepen it at this time. Use delicious, whole foods to nourish the body and mind.

Reaffirmation: In your meditations and lucidity sessions, visualize the exact sequence of your project, fly over the mountain you're about to climb, or let your feet touch the bends in the trail you'll travel. Feel yourself strong and vital as you complete your event and imagine the states of mind you'll need to cultivate for each stage of performance. You've committed to preparation for this event now review the goal and your path. This practice helps me see how far I've come and instills in me greater confidence in my ability to achieve the impossible.

Logistics: Practice packing for your event well in advance. In the process, you'll likely note a few items that could use repair or that you still need to purchase. This is cruicial for expeditions and self-supported events. Review your map or itinerary - the physical one and the topo in your head. As you conduct these final preparations, take a few shakedown runs, climbs, or rides just to keep the qi moving.

Recovery: Recovery begins with pre-event preparation. Clean your space to prepare for your return home. Collect your favorite recovery foods - even consider preparing them so they are ready to eat at the end of the event. Bring your most comfortable post-event clothing. On expeditions for the time between getting off the mountain and returning to the US, I find it nourishing to have a few touches of home like nice street clothes or my favorite chocolate. For endurance events, I have a favorite pair of lush sweatpants that I only wear post-run and find myself looking forward to during the event. 

I hope you've found this useful. If you'd like to learn more, visit my Coaching page and sign up for a consult on the topic of recovery. Resting is an important element of athletic progression and I'm happy to lead you through these steps.

Parenting at the Vertical World

at the gym, Rumi is nine months old

at the gym, Rumi is nine months old

i went into labor nine months ago while climbing at Vertical World Seattle. now Rumi Wren likes to join me for fitness and climbing sessions there.

early the morning of 23 May 2016, I felt the excitement of the early stages of labor. stoked to dig into the work of laboring and birthing at home, I set about finishing the last details of my work and training before the contractions intensified. that morning I met Laurel Fan for a coaching appointment. by timing my questions for her between contractions we made it through the meeting - a few times we even paused to feel my belly tighten with contractions and to ‘oooh’ and ‘ahhh’ with amazement.

after walking home from the cafe where Laurel and I met, I gathered my gym climbing kit, put on yoga pants and top, and wrangled Babydaddy for one last pregnant gym session. knowing I’d soon be in too active of labor to climb well, we sped off to Vertical World which was a ten minute drive from home.

we had a surprisingly good session. I climbed eight pitches between contractions, belaying him uncomfortably because at that point it didn’t feel awesome to stand still. after the eighth pitch we paused so I could spend some time in the lead cave visualising my first postpartum leads. knowing my next lead would be just days away, being that I was already in labor, I sat for ten or twenty minutes looking up at the route on which I’d begin. I bouldered the start, I tried to remember the feeling of whipping, I envisioned myself confidently clipping draws, and I remembered the distinct mixture of fear and exhilaration inherent in leading at my limit.

during my ninth pitch of the day a whopper of a contraction hit. I asked Babydaddy to dirt me, quickly peeled off my harness, and announced I was ready to give birth so we should go home. Rumi was born twenty-four hours later on my bedroom floor, 24 May 2016.

on 27 May 2016, I tied in to the sharp end for the first time since November 2015. as I sailed happily off the wall, whipping a good fifteen feet, I giggled maniacally and thanked myself for the faith I had in myself to continue my upward progression throughout pregnancy.


I COACH PREGNANT AND POSTPARTUM ATHLETES SO IF YOU LIKE WHAT YOU'VE READ HERE, SIGN UP FOR COACHING SERVICES MONTHLY OR A LA CARTE.

The two wings of adrenal fatigue for athletes

As I dig in to work with yet another chronically overtrained client, I'm compelled to share my simple approach to coaching through adrenal fatigue. 

First, let's back up. What is adrenal fatigue? Adrenal fatigue is an amorphous set of symptoms resulting from a chronically-taxed adrenal system. When the body lives in its fight-or-flight (sympathetic) nervous response for too long without a break, it exhausts its hormonal response to stress thus becoming disregulated. This disregulation can cause chronic fatigue, extreme weight gain or loss, thyroid disorder, increased propensity for musculoskeletal injury, and a suppressed immune system. On a subtler level, those suffering with adrenal fatigue might report a lack of appetite, increasing anxiety, less motivation to train, and emotional volatility. Essentially, the body in this fatigued state becomes unable to cope with stress.

The athletes with whom I work generally have adrenal fatigue originating from one or both of the following:

  1. Trauma

  2. Overtraining

Clients with a heavy load of multigenerational trauma or with a history of abuse, neglect, or other attachment issues often exhibit signs of adrenal fatigue - even without having overtrained. This happens because people with a higher nervous system set point often have a hair trigger response to stress. These athletes are victims of sexual assault, descendants of genocide survivors, those raised in extreme poverty, those who were adopted or fostered as children, and people with absent or uninvolved parents. Though they might maintain a reasonable training load, they are often functioning in an activated nervous state without knowing it. 

In our work together, clients exhibiting this wing of adrenal fatigue learn the tools and tricks of controlling and calming one's autonomic nervous system. Over a series of several months these clients begin to report increased awareness of their surroundings, reduced phobias of being alone/in the dark/etc, and they begin to heal long-term injuries and nagging yet unspecific illnesses.

As I've written about extensively before, overtraining in our yang athletic culture is all too pervasive. Pushed by Western society to 'conquer', to 'push through it' we lose track of our body's intelligent cues to rest. Clients dealing with long-term overtraining often present with adrenal fatigue - the condition that finally makes them stop and rest. Overtraining is often coupled with dysmorphic body image issues and/or eating disorder. Would you believe that about 75% of my clients, male and female, self report having had or are currently amidst an eating or exercise addiction? 

In order to recover, these clients work with their mental health professional concurrent with me. We begin to reframe the concept of yin athletic practices as part of the athlete's job. Again, over the course of several months, these athletes begin to dig themselves out of their deep energetic hole to rise again like the Phoenix.

By partnering with Seattle-based acupuncturist and ND, Dr. Liz Carter, and bodyworker, Alex Sollek, I work closely with my clients to allow them to simultaneously rehab their adrenals AND continue to progress on their path of mountain endurance.


 

I am offering a one-hour Zoom session on the topic of the Autonomic Nervous System for Athletes on 29 Nov 2018

Postpartum climbing in eight steps

Rumi in a basket, Babydaddy belaying, a couple weeks postpartum, cr. Aaron Vargas Rourke

fueling up before Rumi's first outdoor climbing session, ten days old, Exit 38

Go early, go often: Because many women experience a decrease in the plasma that lent pregnant climbing unpumpability, tell your body you still need that plasma by returning to the gym soon after birth. Once your body and mind feel ready, head to your local climbing gym or crag. Even though you're super-motivated and well-rested, keep your first session postpartum at a recovery pace.

What about the six week wait?: Though many people, professional or peanut gallery, insist on a strict six-week wait before training postpartum, this is not a universal requirement. I went into labor while climbing at the gym and returned to climbing three days postpartum - all while recovering at a clip. Others may want to wait to train postpartum for much longer than six weeks based on their birth experience and level of fatigue. Listen to no one but your own inner voice when it comes to recovery and training.

mobile pumping at an obscure crag, Marcus

Sahrmann exercises: Before bearing down on tough crimps, I was sure I'd completed my Sahrmann abdominal rehabilitation exercises. These simple exercises challenge and evaluate the status of the postpartum athlete's deep core - including pelvic floor and transverse abdominus.

Mobile pumping: In order to extend your session beyond the brief intervals between feedings, get a manual pump. This one worked great for me. You're welcome. 

first postpartum trad lead, Joshua Tree

Find a third: If your babe will join you at the gym or crag, it will be easier to have a third climber/belayer/baby holder present. Only close friends who enjoy babies qualify. Pay them with gratitude and a few extra laps.

Or get thee an IKEA bag: If said babe is rather docile, as Rumi was as a newborn, get a big, blue IKEA bag, pack it with blankets, tuck it away in a safe spot (out of risk of rockfall or other hazards), and let your kiddo nap while you send. At the first sign of fussing, lower and give her the boob.

Climb without your child, too: However convenient and cost-effective climbing with your baby might be, for you to truly focus and progress as an athlete you'll need sessions sans baby as well. I give you blanket permission to treat your child-free training sessions with as much importance as your paid work. Go on, leave that little chub to your partner, your parents, or a friend and go drop a knee or two.

Release expectations: But not for the reason you might think: your postpartum performance WILL impress you beyond expectations. Afterall, you've just taken off the progressive weight vest you wore for ten months. 

 

Read more:

The postpartum athlete

Pregnant rock climbing how to guide

Postpartum running

pregnant ultra running post two