Is the platform for your comeback.
Moving to Toronto was a major stepping stone in my long term road to success in the sport of track and field. However, major changes are not always easy. At first, things were looking great. I was running fairly well and made the World University Games. However, last season every race I ran got slower and slower. This is not a normal trend for a hurdler, because normally the more races you run, the faster your time will get as you figure out your race rhythm. At the end of the season I felt burnt out, so I took a long deserved break and looked forward to the 2016 season.
At the beginning of every season, we get a bunch of assessments done to make sure our bodies are in tip top shape for the long season ahead. The team nutritionist called me in one day because she noticed a hormonal imbalance in my blood work. After getting a body composition test done, she confirmed that I had “relative energy deficiency in sport,” also known as RED-S. The syndrome RED-S refers to impaired physiological function including, but not limited to, metabolic rate, menstrual function, bone health, immunity, protein synthesis, etc. caused by relative energy deficiency. Since my training was going well at the time, we didn’t think too much of it. We made a few minor dietary changes to try and regulate my hormones again and I kept on training harder than ever.
However, come indoor season when my results did not show the work I put into my training, we discovered that I was deeper in RED-S than originally expected. The two main things performance wise that RED-S affected were my strength and training adaptability. I had lost a lot of muscle and did not have the strength that my power event requires. I was not able to gain any positive training benefits as my body was not recovering properly. After talking with my nutritionist and stringing events together, she figures RED-S is also the cause for my decline in performance last season as well.
Sitting down with my coaches in the middle of an Olympic year, we had some tough decisions to make. I could either keep going with my training program and risk going even deeper into RED-S so i wouldn’t disrupt my training program mid season or go back to square one and focus on getting 100% healthy and prepare for a good year next year instead. We ended up deciding to give up on this season and get 100% healthy as our end goal is the 2020 Olympic games. This was a tough decision to make for both me and my coach. It killed me a little inside as I was giving up any hope of making this years Olympic Games as well as giving up on much of a competition season all together.
Trying to get back 100% healthy has been no easy road. I have only been able to run every second day, with reduced volume. While my teammates geared up for outdoor season in spikes and were getting light and fast in the gym, I would be trucking along with easy grass workouts and lifting heavy to try and regain my muscle mass. I have had to increase my body weight to try and kick start my physiological systems that were disrupted this past year. As RED-S lowers your immune system, I also just found out I have had a parasite for the past 7 weeks. The hardest part mentally was trying to race, even though I am no where near ready. My coach thinks it will be more beneficial getting in a couple races no matter what the result may be than totally being out of the sport for the whole year. I am done with my “racing” this season but I will continue to try and get 100% healthy for next year, without taking any steps backward.
No matter how many obstacles were thrown at me this past year, I am going to focus on the positives and grow as a person and athlete. I truly believe in the quote, “Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you greater than any obstacle.” I have overcome obstacles much greater already, which gives me the confidence I will be able to overcome this stronger than ever.