A fellow stomachless friend reached out to me asking me about how I got back into training. So – I wanted to share how it worked for me. Keep in mind that everyone’s recovery is different. I would encourage you not to get frustrated, go slow, and stay patient.
I had my total gastrectomy on Jan 6th and ran my first mile Feb 16th and finished 4th in a Sprint Triathlon May 20th. It’s also worth mentioning, through over 10 events, I scored my 2nd best time.
I sound “braggy”…. But – the reason I share this is because I remember early January feeling much doubt and not sure if I would ever run again. So, I share this to provide hope that you can still live a fantastic exciting life without a stomach.
Please don’t take this as gospel – meaning – this isn’t a one-size-fits-all. Everyone is different. Go slow and listen to your body. When in doubt, take a day off and rest. Also – please note that recovery is much more intense post opp. Example – I used to work out 6 days a week. Now – I can currently work out 3 days a week or so.
After about two weeks after the surgery, I started walking a mile or so every other day. Then, I would walk a mile, two days in a row, followed by a day off. Then 1.5 miles, or 2 miles. I would then increase the speed of my walks. I would build up to about an 18min/mile pace, then 16min mile pace, then 14 min mile pace. I would walk slow for a mile, then speed up to 14min mile pace (feels like your speed walking) and I would do that for a mile or so, then slow back down to normal walking pace. After you do that for a few weeks, you should feel like you either need to keep doing it, or you feel like it’s too easy and you’re ready for a jog. Make sure you warm up well – then job for a few minutes. Feel your body. If it hurts, go back to walking, if it doesn’t, keep jogging for a mile or so. They key is to take it easy and don’t overdo it. Your body will respond very well if you lightly train and take recovery days seriously. I kept it that way and in no time – I was up to running 4 miles (April 3rd). My pace is much slower, but it feels so amazing to go out and run knowing everything we have been through.
Swimming was a bit uncomfortable for some time. Since I had open surgery, the healing takes a while. It wasn’t until April 20th that I was able to swim 1,500 meters without pain. It’s still tight when I first start swimming, but it feels fine after a few minutes of warm up.
Nutrition during training:
I struggled with drinking water early on. Strangely enough, once my heart rate goes up and I sweat a bit – I can drink much more easily. I don’t even really think about it when I drink while training. Same is true with my sugar drinks while training. They have not given me issues assuming I “need” them due to hard effort. While you introduce “nutrition” on your longer sessions, be cautious and don’t overdo it. Perhaps sip on your drink one day at home to ensure it will sit well. Your body will also change quickly. Example: I used to drink Gatorade G2 the first few weeks after surgery. Now – it can’t drink it as it makes me run to the bathroom. Not sure what changed – but it’s a no go. Gatorade Endurance gives me no issues, but I only drink it during training sessions.
My goal is to do a full Ironman in the next couple of years. Stay tuned for more details during the journey! If you have questions – message me on Twitter https://twitter.com/GoWithoutYoGut