May 12th, is Fibromyalgia Awareness Day, and for this day, I have decided to tackle one question I constantly receive.
Question: How can you figure skate/compete while having fibromyalgia/being in constant pain?
Point A: I will throw this out there right away…I am probably one of the more stubborn people you’ll ever meet. When I am told I shouldn’t/can’t, I turn around and say “watch me.”
When I was officially diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, it was in November 2014. This meant it was the middle of a skating season and also happened to be the start with a new coach (only working together for 3 months prior to diagnosis).
Upon having confirmation about the diagnosis, I had two decisions:
- Quit mid-season
- Finish the season, seeing where it could lead me.
Essentially quitting was my first choice. However, I had already started my coaching license and was still missing one test in order to be able to complete the license.
So I continued.
Until February 2015, it was trial and error. Some days I would last 15 minutes and cry my way off the ice from the pain. Other days I was doing 1.5+ hours and nothing was flaring. Which is when I realized a lot of my outcomes were because of what was happening off the ice instead of on the ice. I mean, I was skating 15(ish) years prior to the diagnosis.
After I did some trial and error, I noticed some things determined my flares:
- Minimal 8 hours of sleep is required.
- Schedule of 19+ (on the go) hours had to stop.
- Eating Habits (binging) had to stop.
- Workout routine had to change.
End of February 2015, I tried for that test that I was missing to finish my coaching license. My body had trouble responding and I ended up failing it.
The day after the test, I flew to Florida and spent about a week there with my muscles contracting and basically my whole body was in severe flare mode. That week, was probably the second time THAT year that I almost quit. Then I found out I could retry the same test at a different club in the upcoming weeks.
March 15th: I passed the test. And that ended up changing my whole view on skating. I wanted to skate and I wanted to compete in the sport. I knew I would have to do a lot of slow-paced changes in order to do this, I knew my body would hate me…but I wanted to show others with this debilitating disease that nothing is easy but anything is possible.
I took a bit of time off, having surgery (for endo), along with letting my body recover from some minor injuries.
In that time I was meeting doctors, specialists and trainers. I was talking to them about my on-ice goals for next season; and it was split 50/50. Some told me to go for it and others told me I shouldn’t even be on the ice.
May-June, I attempted new (ice) training programs designed by gym trainers. This was doing on ice evaluations, trying different techniques and skating (supervised) some days 15 mins 3x a week, to 5x a week. There were still pros and cons to doing this but once August came around I dropped all the schedules and followed a different one that a new trainer and I built.
My FINAL decision of continuing skating for another year AND competing was made in August 2015, while discussing it with my coach. Again, this meant more adjustments.
First one: What style would I compete in? Levels?
My goal for the first competition was November 2015-Invitation Gaetan Boucher. My category was adult interpretation.
Time Length: 2.04
The last week of August I went on another vacation. This time I went to Las Vegas. A lot of walking, severe pain and a lot of stress on that vacation it caused a flare. A few days after I got home from that vacation, my great-grandma passed away. That, plus the funeral and my body flaring hindered the start of my training. However, this experience was a crucial lesson-learning experience for me.
Lesson Learned: Listen to the body. If you need a break, take a break. If you need a day off, take a day off. If you are tired, you’re tired…You get the point.
But, THIS was the one rule I started following throughout the year, which helped me on the ice, and even life in general.
November 2015 came along. I was not 100% ready for the competition, but I needed a start to determine if I wanted to continue, stop, focus on something else etc.
The competition was a Saturday night. I skated earlier that day and realized that my body was starting to flare. Before leaving for the competition I used the TENSunit to stabilize my nerves. When I got there, I put my skates on right away (over 1 hour early) and I walked up and down the hallway nearly 100x. Nerves were kicking in but I was as ready as I could be.
I made it through the routine. One of my better run-through’s with that choreography…but I came 3rd place, out of 3 with about 17 points. Now I didn’t care about the placement, I was more focused on something I just did that many people with the disease would probably avoid doing at all costs.
This season the competitions I did:
Invitation Gaeatan Boucher: Interpretation 3rd place.
Competition Rosemere (4 days after returning from Dominican Republic): Freestyle 3rd place, Interpretation 4th.
Regionals (Varennes): Freestyle 3rd, Interpretation 3rd.
Carole Pageau (Laval): Interpretation 4th (new level/ personal best)
Provincials (major flare): Freestyle: 7th place, Interpretation 8th place.
Invitation Vaudreuil Dorion: (Weekend AFTER provincials): Freestyle: 2nd place, Interpretation 3rd place.
From the first freestyle competition to the last freestyle competition there was a major difference. Rosemere I fell on my best jump, cheated a few of them…missed some spins.
Competition VD: My memory gave out and I downgraded all my elements because of flares, I missed a spin, but had a better execution on the elements that I did, so I ended up beating my personal best score.
For next season I am already training for the competitions.
<<I think the adrenaline, focus and training schedule is key in helping my body not flare that bad.>>
Right now I am skating 6 days a week at several rinks, minimum 30 mins per day-max 2 hours. I have lessons on all the days that I skate. I am currently building two new programs for next season (freestyle and interpretation).
Gym Training will be soon changing to build stronger muscles and more flexibility.
My aim for the summer and next season will be to skate 2-4 hours of per day, 6/7 days per week.
Sleep 8-10 hours per night. Stop Stressing/over-thinking.
Eating: Stop bringing, eat healthier and continue to monitor it.
However, right now I am probably the healthiest I have been (in all aspects) since 2012.
As the summer and new season starts up, I will keep you posted on my upcoming flares, remedies and progress.
You can also read: Figure Skating saved my life