“What if this weren't a hypothetical question?”
And, stuff like the following little conundrum. On Wednesday I took my handcycle for a ride. I felt strong. I covered 2.6 miles with only a couple of stops. This is a very modest distance for a healthy person, but trust me, for a person in my condition it was impressive. The ride invigorated me, and set the stage for a relatively energetic day.
Then I went out Saturday morning and only covered 2.1 miles, and had to stop about 10 times. The ride did not invigorate me. In fact, I never completely recovered from it until the next day. What changed?
As I was finishing up Saturday’s ride, I started to ponder that very question. What changed? I approached the problem in a systematic fashion. The cause of my weak handcycling performance could have been due to differences outside my body or differences inside my body. Let’s consider the outside first.
Was the course different? No, I followed the exact same course (a little shorter on Saturday though).
Was the weather different? No, it was sunny and about 70 on both days, with light winds.
Was the bike different? I don’t think so, although I didn’t inspect it closely.
Time of day? Nope. 9:00ish on both days.
Overall, it doesn’t appear that any external factors were responsible for my disparate performances.
So what was different inside my body? Two possibilities come immediately to mind: what I ate and how I slept.
On Tuesday night, before my Wednesday morning ride, I slept about 7 hours, which is my average. On Friday night, before my Saturday morning ride, I slept 8.5 hours, which was very unusual.
On Tuesday, I consumed 1,722 calories. Remember, I’m counting calories these days to try to lose weight. On Friday, I consumed 1,976 calories, which included 2 lite beers in the early evening.
Was it my menstrual cycle? Nope. Last time I looked I have only male reproductive parts.
I can’t think of anything else that I did differently on the days before my morning rides. Was the combination of more calories and more sleep on Friday the difference? Did Friday's modest alcohol consumption have such a profound effect on Saturday's handcycling performance?
Another possibility is that there were changes inside my body other than diet or rest. The obvious candidate is MS. Remember though, I have PPMS, which means that my health doesn't change much from day to day. I don't have those classic good days and bad days like people with RRMS do. But maybe having a chronic, disabling disease causes me to constantly walk a fine line, where even the slightest changes in variables either external or internal to my body have a profound impact on my ability to function.
Or maybe I just need to stop thinking so much. A less analytical person might consider the same experience and say, "hmm, I wasn't nearly as strong today as I was on Wednesday. Oh well, it's probably nothing."
What do you say?