My health/fitness (Jan 2014-Sep 2015)

For this post I thought it'd be nice to elaborate a bit more on my health/fitness, going back to glandular fever last year. Leading up to the 2014 season, first I worked myself way too hard trying to scrape the budget together for European STK1000. Realizing it wasn't going to happen, I accepted a great offer from a Dutch team to compete in the STK600 class instead. Born a couple weeks outside of the official age limit that year, but still eligible for wildcards according to regulations, the team saw no problem in entering me. Dorna (the organisation) took several weeks, then decided I would not be allowed to compete.

At this point I was so defeated, I simply wanted to take my stock BMW HP4 (the love of my life, I named it Vedder) and learn as many EUSTK tracks as possible, basically taking a year off from proper competition. Luckily my team changed my mind, and we opted to go for the BSB Ducati TriOptions Cup instead. We had 2 weeks to buy a new 899 and get it race ready, as you can probably imagine - it was chaos and very little sleep was involved. I could not have pulled it off without my parents, my dad in particular. Ready just in time, my mechanic Dennis and I set off to Brands Hatch for round 1.

Looking back, this is when the glandular fever symptoms started. All the stress and long nights had most likely weakened my immune system to the point where the virus could easily take advantage. Post round 1, I basically slept for 3 days straight until I felt somewhat like my normal self. At Donington Park for round 2 (mid May), I "napped" for hours in between riding. On the bike, I'd lap slower towards the end of the race instead of quicker like normal. Still, glandular fever never even crossed our minds.

I finally went to see my GP at the end of June, right before round 3 at Knockhill. I'd gained quite a bit of weight as I compensated for the lack of energy by eating more, and every time I picked up my workouts, I'd wake up with a fever, sore throat, and headache the next day. After getting the diagnosis, I quickly realized complete rest would be the only solution. Gutted, I missed Knockhill and the following 2 rounds.

It took until about the second week of August (3 weeks of bed rest, then 3 with very little activity) before I trusted my body enough to start training again. Starting with a 30 minute bicycle ride, I increased the duration a bit the next day, etc. When that went ok, I booked a track day at Zolder for 14 August. The weather was horrible (off and on rain) and I hardly got any laps in. I felt weak, but didn't get sick the next day. Absolutely ecstatic to be back on a bike, I decided to return to BSB competition the following weekend at Cadwell Park (in hindsight it was too soon, however no ragrets).

Fast forward to the end of October 2014, I'd got some training in during the remainder of the season, but this was quickly undone as I was forced to rest once again following a nasty crash at Silverstone (Oct 5). I sustained a concussion (waking up in medical center with no memory of getting there was quite surreal), bruised elbow and ribs, and a broken collarbone. No big deal, right? You get the collarbone plated in surgery and are good to go. Not when your name is Nadieh Schoots.

My winter/off season involved a 2 month trip to the US, which I had planned far in advance. I missed my American friends loads, and couldn't wait to see everyone again (plus ride dirtbikes!). However post surgery I developed a blood clot in the main returning vein for my arm, meaning no traveling and certainly no dirtbikes. Instead came nightly injections with blood thinners and my very own needle container. Devastated once again, I thought long and hard about whether or not all of this was still worth it.

Obviously I'm still racing now, and the answer was yes. Not only does nothing compare to the feeling I get when racing a motorcycle, all the amazing experiences I've had, lessons I've learned and friends I've made (love you guys, wherever you are), are more than worth the bad times. Even some of the bad times are worth it, sticking a needle in my stomach in a club bathroom during a concert was pretty funny.

Back to training. I'm actually fairly well educated on all things health/fitness related, and when I picked myself back up around mid November I made a proper workout/diet/sleep plan. 7-8 weeks in I was back at my normal weight, my endurance was coming around, but I was far from happy with my (hardly improving) strength. With an eye on my future (superbikes!), I changed up my training plan to gain muscle/strength and thus weight. Getting stronger proved to be quite addicting, so this went on until the end of May (2015), when I fractured my shin at Donington.

With this injury and simultaneous bike issues (that's Ducati for you), apart from the occasional workout, I wasn't able to return to proper training until after Knockhill (start of July). Taking proper measurements for the first time in a while, I found I'd gained +/- 5kg of muscle mass, 3kg more even compared to pre-glandular fever. Glad my hard work has paid off, I am now back to gaining endurance, maintaining strength and losing weight.

In short this is what my program looks like:
Day 1 = circuit training, day 2 = strength/weights, repeat. Every 7th is a rest day. I strive to cycle or run for 1-2 hours at relatively low heart rate every afternoon, but have learned to recognize when my body isn't up for it. I sleep 8 hours per night at the very least. My diet consists almost 100% of non-processed foods, I make sure I eat varied and enough, so I don't get sick.

There were 7 weeks in between the Knockhill and Cadwell Park BSB rounds, 3 of which I was unable to follow my program due to testing (which was great!) and nursing an injured arm (less great). I was still able to lose 4kg and feel stronger, better and faster every day. Right now I'm back working hard every day, not yet where I want to be, but already in my best shape to date. Arm pump from manhandling the 899 is no longer a thing, it's starting to feel more and more like my old minimoto.