Yesterday, Jan 5, was exactly one month since my radical prostatectomy. Since I awakened from anesthesia, I’ve been walking. Initially, I had to pull an IV Bag through the halls of Johns Hopkins Hospital. After being discharged with my catheter bag I walked daily for 10 days. Many of those days my body would only tolerate 2-3 miles at a time. However, I never lost sight of my goal… to restart my Ironman training by mid-January.

Since removing the catheter, I’ve had to wear adult diapers because I have regained very little control of my bladder. I have wondered how long I will need to wear them, and how I’ll do endurance training while wearing them. I certainly can ride my bike for hours and simply pee in the diaper. At some point, however, it will become full and have to be removed. Where do I put a full diaper while riding? Do I carry a spare? Where do I change? If I still have to wear them when I’m racing Ironman, what will I do then? Should I reduce my fluid intake to slow my bladder filling? If so, do I get adequate hydration and nutrition? The questions go on and on.

None of these questions caused me to consider deferring spring races. Nor have they slowed my push to return to training. I’ll learn to deal with whatever way my body functions as I do longer, and longer sessions.

Keeping a daily habit

With my goal in mind, I chose to push and test myself each day. The body adapts magnificently to stress, my challenge was to avoid overstressing myself. Healing from surgery has always been my primary objective. With general timeframes to wait before I began the serious training, I listened to my body as I pushed it, believing that it would let me know what’s too much. 

My task was to walk daily.

December 18 – 5 mile walk

Having walked short distances around my neighborhood and experiencing the anxiety of not having access to a bathroom, I needed a better location. Tom Bass Park, where I frequently do long runs, has port-o-johns as well as pavilions with bathrooms throughout the park. I decided to return there and begin increasing both my distance and speed. Cruz was still training and agreed to do her runs at the same time. She would run and loop back every once in a while to check on me.

Dec 22 – 7 mile walk

I began the day testing my tolerance to dry-land swim training on a VASA trainer. All went well on the trainer. Later in the evening, I went for a 7-mile walk.

December 30 – 5.6 mile walk

Keeping a steady pace while holding my posture for 5.6 miles with Cruz and Diane.

January 5 -11 mile walk-run

A magnificent sunrise walk with Cruz and Nat. Nat left for work after 3 miles and Cruz went home after she ran 8 miles. When she left I was at 6.5 miles but decided to walk further. After about 1.5 miles alone, I decided to try slowly jogging.  Initially, I felt discomfort in my abdomen, but it went away quickly. I made sure to stay tuned in to my body more than my pace. Within 2 miles, I’d gotten a burst of excitement and a touch of a runner’s high. So much so, I considered running another 5 miles. The insanity immediately passed, and I finished my run at mile 11.

I felt the high of success for the remainder of the day.

January 6 – 6.1 mile run

After a discussion with Johnny about yesterday’s successful short run, he suggested that I repeat running for half a mile at 180 cadence then walk a few hundred yards for an hour. Doing the run/ walk routine should prevent neural fatigue from the constant focus on keeping a high turnover. I was able to run a total of 6 miles without any pain using this approach.