Hyperthyroid disease and training



etsoilguy

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Oct 26, 2003
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I've been diagnosed with some form of Grave's disease and am now taking methimazole to slow my thyroid down. I'm 51 and had worked hard to improve my speed and stamina this winter for the spring race season. The elevated heart rate, lack of energy and muscle aches that have occurred as symptoms these last few weeks have done me in I'm afraid. Anyone had experience in overcoming this? Any training recommendations? I love racing and just hate the idea of having to quit.
 

matagi

Well-Known Member
Mar 12, 2006
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etsoilguy said:
I've been diagnosed with some form of Grave's disease and am now taking methimazole to slow my thyroid down. I'm 51 and had worked hard to improve my speed and stamina this winter for the spring race season. The elevated heart rate, lack of energy and muscle aches that have occurred as symptoms these last few weeks have done me in I'm afraid. Anyone had experience in overcoming this? Any training recommendations? I love racing and just hate the idea of having to quit.
No personal experience or suggestions for you except a general one ......

You won't have to quit, but you will have to take things easy for a while until the medication takes effect and your system equilibrates. Is your endocrinologist aware of your committment to cycling? It would be a good idea to talk to him/her about it if you haven't already done so and if you have, then you need to re-iterate how important cycling is to you.
 

daveryanwyoming

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Oct 3, 2006
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etsoilguy said:
I've been diagnosed with some form of Grave's disease... Anyone had experience in overcoming this? Any training recommendations? I love racing and just hate the idea of having to quit.
I was diagnosed with Grave's disease about fifteen years ago. I went through the supression drugs for a while then went the full nuclear surgery route and basically no longer have a functional thyroid gland. I've been on a stable synthroid regimine ever since.

It basically ended my first racing career as I had to first deal with the hyperthyroid phase, then the diagnosis and treatment, then the hypothyroid phase before titrating up to a stable daily synthroid dose. My body changed dramatically as I put on a lot of upper body weight.

But I never actually stopped being active or riding and after a decade of other pursuits I started racing again, thyroid issues and all and with better training and more focus actually race better now than I ever did back before the Graves disease. I've also brought my weight back down to roughly where I raced as a senior.

I can't offer advice on what treatment route to take (not sure I'd opt for the very permanent nuclear surgery option with what I know today, but I can't go back now) or how to train while you get the hyperthyroidism under control. That depends a lot on the treatment options you pursue as well as your riding goals. But the bottom line is that you can ride or race quite sucessfully post Grave's disease and although it's pretty traumatic, it isn't the end of high level athletic activities.

Feel free to PM me if you want to discuss this further and good luck,
-Dave
 

berrymoss

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Nov 5, 2008
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Me too, althoughmine wasn't caused my Graves but by nodules in the lymph node. At the time, before diagnosis, I was having real problems with my heart rate. My resting HR was 104bpm, my legs were killing me, and I was sweating like a pig at the slightests effort.. My maximum HR on the bike is normally 170bpm, but on one trip out, it spiked up to 194 and wouldn't come back down. I've since had radio iodine and also now have no thyroid. I'm now taking 100ug Levothyroxin daily and its done the trick.

Drop me a pm if you want :D
 

RippedUp

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Apr 7, 2011
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Hi all,

For those who were diagnosed with Graves, I'd love to hear your experience; how you treated it and how it has affected your performance.

Thanks a lot.
 

upstateSC-rider

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Jul 27, 2004
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Originally Posted by RippedUp .

Hi all,

For those who were diagnosed with Graves, I'd love to hear your experience; how you treated it and how it has affected your performance.

Thanks a lot.
In addition to above, I'd like to hear if there were other symptoms besides the elevated HR, fatigue, and soreness.

Thanks
 

RippedUp

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Apr 7, 2011
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- Dry hands
- Dizziness when doing certain movements
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of cardiovascular fitness
- Tachycardia
- Weight loss due to elevated metabolism
- Heat production
- Sleep difficulties

Originally Posted by upstateSC-rider .




In addition to above, I'd like to hear if there were other symptoms besides the elevated HR, fatigue, and soreness.

Thanks
 

daveryanwyoming

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Oct 3, 2006
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For me the big ones outside of cycling fitness were:

- Rapid weight loss unexplained by diet or exercise load
- Hot all the time, especially at night (first thing the doc asked was if I was typically hotter than other people in a room)
- Trembling hands (thought I was overboard on java and cut it out for a while but hands shook like crazy for no apparent reason)
- Bulging eyes (I didn't notice this but the doc did and showed me in a mirror)

-Dave
 

daveryanwyoming

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Oct 3, 2006
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Originally Posted by RippedUp .

HI Dave, how are you now? How did you treat? And is your cycling back 100%? Thanks a lot.
I'm fine and have been for years, my bike racing is much better now than it ever was 20 years ago and pre Graves disease. Here's what I wrote last week in response to your post on the Cycling Training thread you dredged up:


I went the nuclear surgery route, IOW I swallowed a very large pill of radioactive iodine served up in a lead beaker while wearing a lead vest, kinda spooky. That basically killed my thyroid gland over the course of the next three months during which I went from hyper-thyroid to hypo-thyroid, started putting weight back on and got pretty sluggish. Since then I've taken synthroid every morning on a dose that's been very stable for at least the last ten years and really hasn't changed much in the nineteen years or so since I was diagnosed.

I got back on the bike fairly quickly once I got on the synthroid program but my racing was pretty lackluster for the next couple of seasons and stopped racing around '96 and pursued career and other sports for about a decade before renewing my racing license in '06 for another go at it. My body type had definitely changed post Graves disease and I'd put on a fair amount of upper body muscle and wasn't as lean as pre-disease.

I also started training with power meters not too long before I wrote that post you dug up from 2006 and am now working on my fifth season of training and racing with power data. I've steadily improved during that time, have had some great seasons and some average seasons but every one of the last five have been more successful than anything I managed pre-disease. My best 40K time trial back in the day with early clip on aero bars was 1:06 as a NorCal cat 3. I've ridden one or more sub hour 40Ks every one of the past five seasons and my best time is down to 56:15 so ten full minutes faster than what I managed when I was 20 years younger and had a normally functioning thyroid gland. My overall race results are also much better now with a handful of wins in crits, road races, tts, cross and even a few top GC spots in weekend stage racing in the past five seasons. I'm mostly racing masters now, but still hold my own in Cat 3 races and have managed a couple of podium spots against the younger cat 3s on good days.

I attribute most of the progress to changing how I trained, from having the power meter data for objective day in, day out feedback and from being more consistent in my year round training. But in terms of your question, it took me a while to figure things out but if anything my fitness and racing is much better now than it ever was before my thyroid gland troubles. So the disease alone once treated did not put an end to my cycling or racing and once under control wasn't that relevant. As I said my body type changed in subtle ways and I have to pay a lot more attention to weight management now or things get out of hand quickly but other than that I don't really think about it much.

-Dave
Bottom line, the treatment was very effective but it does mean I take a synthroid pill every day of my life and will for the rest of my life. The decision to go that route is a one way trip, and although it's worked just fine for me it does mean I can never be far from western medicine, a pharmacy or a doctor to issue prescriptions. If I was making the decision today I might try some of the alternative treatments that some suggested before going down the path I took. The docs didn't give the other options much hope back then and things like dietary intervention or suppression drugs may not work that well but if they don't you can still do as I did and rely on synthroid after killing your thyroid gland. But once you make that decision you can't go back.

-Dave
 

toddpc

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May 1, 2011
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I am curious what your different TSH levels are now after treatment. I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer last spring and have RAI in october. I struggled last summer, but had some decent results and some horrible ones. After the RAI, my last blood work showed a TSH of .1 which seems very low to me, but was on target for my endo. I have raced a few times this spring and have done horribly. I went from a Cat 1 that finished Cascade, Tour of Utah, etc last year to getting dropped in the first few miles of the spring races. I don't have the spring fitness that I have had in years, but my legs just don't feel there at all. I am wondering if it doesn't have to do with my low TSH. Any thoughts?
 

singlespeedemon

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Jan 31, 2007
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I know this thread is a bit dated, but I need some support from those of you who have gone through the same thing.

I have been a very active and sometimes competitive cyclist for several years. I had no problems hanging with my local group on rides that averaged 21+ MPH. A couple months ago, I began to notice a decline in my cycling fitness and on one particular ride, for a reason I could not explain, I simply could no longer keep up. My legs we fatigued to the point where I could pedal at maximum speed of 9 MPH on the flats in my lowest gear and that took every bit of effort I could give.

The following Saturday, I tried to ride with the group again and was dropped within the first three miles. This prompted me to see my doctor who, after two rounds of tests, diagnosed me with Hyperthyroidism. I am scheduled to see an endocrinologist on April 11. 2012 and am eager to find a fix to this problem.

I have been off the bike except for a neighborhood cruise with my young daughters and I get winded just climbing stairs or from standing from a bent-over position.

Will I be able to resume riding after treatment? Can I get my fitness back? I am afraid of the weight gain that will accompany treatment, as weight loss has not been a factor for me.