14 weeks until the Battle of Fallujah GORUCK HTL. This is the record of what I am doing to train for the event.
A little background on mindset. I didn’t pay to do these events so failure is NOT an option. Chris, my real life battle buddy, reached out to members of the Steel City Ruck Club and gave them a little background into what was going on.
I had just used the money I was going to use to sign up for the heavy on insulin because I was out. I had a discount card from the insulin manufacturer so I figured I was good. It should’ve been free. It wasn’t. The discount card I was using wasn’t compatible with my insurance, I had to pay about $100 out of pocket so I could live and I wasn’t ready for that due to my daughter’s graduation party and her departure to college. Timing just sucked. I had already made the commitment to sign up, even if I missed the two discounted sign up days, I would be there. I don’t care if I had to take out a loan and ration my insulin to barely keep me alive. I was going. I kept it off the internet because last time I put something about insulin pricing up on Facebook got a surprise deposit into my papal. I didn’t need anyone to pay for anything so I sent a text to Chris and our group of training partners. I appreciate the generosity but I post stuff to try and be transparent and hopefully reach someone who might also be having the same issue know they are not alone. Dealing with T1D can be incredibly lonely.
Chris, sensing I needed a pick me up, reached out to the Steel City Ruck Club with a plan. There was a 50% code I was bummed that I was going to miss. The next day after sharing my disappointment with Chris in our training group text; I got an email, followed by two more emails. I had just been signed up for the HTL. Then I got a text from Chris. I was astonished and was also worried he had paid for it, knowing that it was probably the money he had set aside to sign up. I wouldn’t stand for that. He then went on to tell me he and the folks at Steel City Ruck Club that were the benefactors. Chris like the true selfless guy he was, wanted to just pay for me, but couldn’t necessarily afford to do it all by himself. He said it took the group 30 minutes or something like that to come up with the donations necessary to sign me up for not only the Heavy, but the Tough and Light as well.
The feelings I usually feel in an instance like this is, I’m not worthy. I don’t ever feel worthy. Many tell me it’s just karma coming back to me. Put good into the world and it comes back tenfold. That might be true. I always try to be the change I’d like to see. That cliche might be true. I’m not here to toot my own horn. But I am forever grateful to my friends in Pittsburgh for helping me out. They didn’t need to. I didn’t want them to, but they didn’t ask me, they just did it because that is the type of people they are. They are a phenomenal group of people that I hope to one day payback in someway and emulate. They are everything that this community is. I am appreciative of every single one of them. Now failure is not an option. It isn’t my money to waste now. I have to finish it. They have faith in me to help me achieve this goal. They placed a bet on me.
Timing being what it is; during this whole thing I was feeling the fatigue of managing diabetes. It’s a very real thing. This is what I was feeling; I have been gaining weight despite keeping an eye on my carbs and sugars, testing, retesting, my A1C went up (which might not be as bad as I thought). So confounding this was feelings of shame, worry, and depression. A band called Icon for Hire has a song with a line that resonates. Depression is like a big fur coat; it’s made of dead things but it keeps me warm. This is exactly how I was feeling. I started this healthy lifestyle as a way to lose weight. It had done wonders for my mental health as an awesome side effect. Now the pendulum was swinging back the other way really hard. This is natural, but doesn’t mean I was ready for that ambush. This overnighter that was coming up; it was clear I wasn’t ready for it, but I went for it anyway. I wasn’t in the best head space. Chris and I talked about some of it on the way to the start of the 25 miler. Things at home were rougher than I would have liked, mainly because my obsession with training has taken a HUGE toll and he could see it. This rucking hobby I have shouldn’t be looked at with contempt by my family. I was jealous of all my friends whose wives went rucking with them, or did events; I want nothing more than to share this with my wife. Turns out I want to share it so much that it’s pushing her away. She doesn’t care for it because she doesn’t see it as an exercise, she sees it as something that takes me away from the house for hours. I could sense in her face that she was annoyed I was taking yet another evening away from helping her put the kids to bed. Another evening of helping clean up the kitchen. My day job is monopolizing my time during the day and training for ruck events monopolized my free time at night. She felt like a single parent, yet we live in the same house. I clearly have lost sight of my why. To be a better husband and father because I am in shape. Everything I do and will do is because of my family.
So the 25 miler that I wasn’t ready for had turned into just a 20 miler and I put down the ruck. I needed to recenter. I needed to address the diabetic fatigue/burn out. I needed to pay attention to my family. So I basically didn’t workout at all. I turned my back on the last week of Heavy Drop Training I had signed up for. I focused on my situation mentally and hopefully at home. I had to get my mind right. This was the most important thing I needed to do at the time.
During this time I was distant, but also was tuned in to some things about myself. I addressed my diabetic fatigue by allowing myself to be fatigued. Allowed myself to take a break from everything. When you find one problem you find three problems. I was gaining weight despite having a calorie deficit. My blood sugars were on this roller coaster from hell, where I would soar from a normal 130 at bed time to over 300 when I woke up. I contacted the doctor. I read a lot of diabetic resources that dealt with living with diabetes. Despite thinking I knew it all, it’s clear I have so much to learn. I bet someone who is dealing with this since they were a kid is laughing at me.
Nonetheless I pulled away. Perhaps strayed a little too far off the path. I didn’t care about the amount of carbs I was eating. I was so ashamed I would hide in the kitchen and eat something sweet while my wife and family were in the other room; I felt ashamed hiding in the kitchen to eat more and more cookies. This action is either a full blown eating disorder or at least the start of one. It took an article on diabetic burnout to wake me up and make me recognize some of the unhealthy behaviors in myself. I got a Facebook friend request from a Cadre I never met followed by a message when I accepted the friend request around this same time. It was the right message at the right time. It woke me up and that’s when I recognized what I was doing. I took a deep breath and calmed down I followed the advice of a few resources and made a plan. A simple plan. A plan I had already done thanks to the reminder of a certain Cadre. I punched out an email to my doctor and gave her the low down in 1500 characters or less. I was worried about what was happening to me.
She came back and we had a pretty frank email chat throughout the day. In the end I got her plugged into my Dexcom account so she could see what was happening. She knew how I felt, now she could see it. She increased my basal insulin (Lantus) 2 units and told me to pay attention to lows just in case. If they were too frequent she would have to cut back on that and go a different direction. She also suggested that I join a diabetic support group and gave me suggestions as to which one she recommended. Some virtual and others in person.
What I think was happening physically was that I was staying so active to keep my sugars in check it turned into something just obsessive and I burned myself out. So I took a day or two off and my sugars would go wild because I wasn’t as active. My body wouldn’t absorb the insulin as well thus keeping more glucose in my bloodstream. I would then correct a ton when I ate (which was because I wasn’t eating very healthy. Cupcakes are my jam and I ate all the cupcakes) and so the vicious cycle would go on. I went through an insulin pen in 15 days, whereas before I could stretch that to almost a month. This was at the height of this burnout.
I needed to be sure my basal insulin doses were good. So I did a fasting protocol for 1 week which could be dangerous given my horrible decisions with food, but I needed to do something I could wrap my head around and get back in the saddle. Something I could keep up with minimal effort. I know roughly what kind of carbs are in most everything now. I have a good base of what healthy is, but I needed to add in something simple and sustainable. So I looked at a few things. I would pay attention to my standard deviation, which means when you eat, your sugar won’t deviate from the start more than X mg/dL. My X would equal 10-20 mg/dL. If I ate something that caused me to deviate more than that, I won’t get pissed, I would just note it and move on.
Monday I would fast until 8pm when I would eat a fair amount of carbs 25g or so at dinner. I wasn’t going to count calories, give me all the calories. I would only count carbs. I would also experiment with a few different types of carbs. I wanted to see what would keep my standard deviation to less than 20 mg/dL. I know 25g will raise me above that deviation. Tuesday I would fast only until 2pm if my sugars were in range when I woke up. If they were high, I would correct and have a small breakfast; then eat lunch at 2 and at the end of the day I would make sure I ate before 9pm. Wednesday it was the same as Monday.
Thursday same as Tuesday. Friday same as Monday and Wednesday. Saturday would be an off day. Sunday would be 3 well balanced meals, yes with carbs, just not a ton of carbs (no more than 16g per meal). Again I wanted to keep that deviation to less than 20mg/dL.
With a recognition of unhealthy eating habits I couldn’t be so regimented that I constrain myself so much; it would lead to another burn out, but this time faster and deeper. I’m building in cheat days and it’s ok if I wanted to eat some ice cream or heaven forbid have a beer or bread. Moderation is the key to anything. If I was going to eat like shit, I needed to earn it though.
So the exercise plan is pretty simple. I have 12 weeks to train hard, 2 weeks to taper, then it’s go time. Because we are still a week away from the next HDT round, I am kind of going to make up my own plan with HDT elements. For weeks 1-6 I am going to follow the body weight and ruck workouts I already did with HDT. I am going to use the standard HDT benchmark tests which are:
2 min push ups
2 min sit ups
5 min burpees
1 mile run
1 mile ruck @ 50lbs dry
HDT allows these to be fresh, but I am going to use these as a total benchmark workout and will do them straight through. I will repeat this at the end of week 3 and week 6. Then at week 7 I will start the Sandbag and Ruck version I crapped out on; repeating the benchmark workouts after week 9 and 12. Week 13 I will do all the care package workouts because they are a ton of fun and are usually around 20 minutes or so. I will only workout for 1 hour so that means I have to stick to the rests to the mark, unlike the last few times I didn’t. I would take extra time between sets, that will have to stop. So 3 workouts a week for 12 weeks, 1 week of 20-30 minute care packages, then 1 week of tapering. Weekends will be rest days unless otherwise noted as a 12 miler or a Robbie Miller WOD. I plan on 2 Robbie Miller WODs and 2 12 milers. That is 4 weekends of the 13 available.
So that’s the plan. I did my first benchmark workout today. I have some work to do. Also looks like I started something with Thursday evening rucks with my wife. It isn’t the rucking that’s important; it’s the time together. We go for a walk, I just happen to strap 50 lbs to my back.
So stay tuned for more. I plan on recapping a few weeks at a time. This is going to be a huge event and the culmination of a goal I gave myself nearly one year ago. Complete an HTL by the time I was 40.
I feel good for the first time in a long time. I certainly don’t feel like I am at square 1. I am at square 50 of 100. I am ready to get after it. Special thank you to the SCRC folks, I am still to this day blown away by your generosity.