I have decided to enter myself in a triathlon as a 21st-birthday present. I turn 21 in September, so this gives me about a month to stew over the implications of this present. I am not particularly athletic, I am 30-40 pounds overweight, and I have Joint Hypermobility Syndrome, also known as Ehlers Danlos Syndrome or Hypermobility (H)EDS.
So why now? Why set such a lofty goal one month before my 21st birthday?
First of all, I plan on scheduling this triathlon about a year in the future. We’re talking a full year’s worth of training here. I’m not jumping in with my clothes on.
Second, I have been inspired by fellow EDSer Laura and her “Fat Girl’s Ironman Journey” and motivated by an emotional breakdown I had last night and unloaded on my poor mother.
EDS is hard to live with. I suffer from chronic full-body pain and acute subluxations and dislocations of any nameable joint in my body, which makes exercise quite a task. In fact, sometimes getting out of bed in the morning is more than my joints can handle! However, I am a junior in college with an incredibly full schedule of school, work, and extracurriculars and I need my body to keep up with me for as long as it can, which is why I have decided to set a goal for it.
My body will run (…and swim and bike)! I know it will if I am patient, loving, and gentle with it. I am primarily embarking on a path to mind-body wellness with an eventual end goal of participating in a triathlon.
I have chosen a sprint triathlon as my eventual goal because it contains a manageable amount of each sport: on a good day (and certainly not back to back), I can currently swim about 1/2 mile, run about 1 mile, and bike about 5 miles without experiencing discomfort or body aches the next day. I love to swim and bike, and I’m learning to love to run.
Over the next year (or so), I plan to train myself to swim, bike, and run in alignment at comfortable paces. To do this, I will be using (and taking notes from) the methods of Chi Running and Total Immersion swimming, as recommended by my physical therapist and suggested by several fellow EDSers.
In addition, since I predict that increased exercise will equal increased pain, at least in the beginning, I will be taking notes from the book Full Catastrophe Living as a way to help manage my pain and live more mindfully. I love yoga and the idea of meditation (though I am just so darn antsy that I’ve never gotten into the groove!) and I am totally approaching this whole journey with an open mind spiritually, emotionally, and physically.
Something has got to give. And when it does, I’ll be running.