Justin Leov's Diary - A Bit of a Tough Time

Aug 2, 2016
by Théâtre des Opérations  
Photo by Sebastian Schieck

Well, it's been a bit of a tough time for me since the opening rounds in South America.

On returning to New Zealand I didn’t have the "go" I usually do. I was plagued with low energy and multiple days of head cold symptoms. I didn't know what was going on really but I knew something must be up so I went to my doctor and they found I had glandular fever (GF).

Since sharing my diagnosis, I've had a lot of people contact me with their GF stories and what they did to recover from it. I also heard the stories from some of how it turned into chronic fatigue and that can take years to get rid of. Thank you for sharing all your messages, support, suggestions and experiences.

Photo by Grant Stirling

My doctor’s suggestion was to hang up the bike...

I had to rest until my liver function started showing normal results (monitored via weekly blood tests). Once I finally got a normal reading it was a further 6 weeks taking it easy, then I could return to full training and then plan for racing again.

When you’re used to training every day and have put hours of time and energy into something you love, it’s a bitter pill to swallow to be told to stay off the bike and rest. What I found worse was watching my fitness wasting away day by day.

Photo by Grant Stirling

It's not as though I had a broken bone, which was stopping me from riding but an illness that wasn’t visible.

During the down time it was really tough for me mentally. It was a daily challenge trying to keep my low mood at bay, luckily I had my family around me to keep me busy and my mind active. I spent weeks doing hardly anything, I read plenty of books to pass some of the time and took daily midday naps when the children did. I literally felt as if I had hit a wall, I had no energy at all.

My weekly tests were something I would look forward to. Monday morning in for a blood test and results on Wednesday, I was seeing my liver slowly improve and that got me through to the next week. Each test was a step closer to being back on my bike. Once I got the all clear to train again I started back in the gym and have been able to get some good strength back.

Photo by Grant Stirling

It's been a focus for me to get a little bit stronger than I was at the start of the season, especially in my upper body.

That, in turn, has increased my body weight up a few kg, from this I have already noticed an improved ability to manage the bike in the rough sections. I've spent a bit of time traveling over to Nelson to get some vertical meters of both climbing and descending. It's been a juggle to get back strong, yet not overdo it and blow up.

Photo by Grant Stirling

Thankfully my coach has been keeping a close eye on my training data and morning HRV results and all seems to be tracking well.

As everyone can see from this year’s Enduro World Series results so far, it is no series to attempt if you aren’t at your optimal. One thing I decided early on, was that I wasn't going to return too soon and risk blowing myself up to get back to speed and fitness.

My team Canyon, Adidas Sport Eyewear and all my sponsors have been great in accepting I was going to miss some races. They have been by my side and keen to see me healthy before I returned to the circuit.

On my return to the series, I will be out of any overall ranking. I am returning with a different approach to what I usually would take for the series. Consistency doesn't matter for me this year so it means I can take a few more chances on the stages. It’s really about building back up for next season.

Photo by Grant Stirling

With Whistler now in my sights, I couldn't be more excited to get back.

I've missed the process of racing and the atmosphere, I can't wait to be back in the mix with my friends and especially my team.

See you soon,


Photos Sebastian Schieck / Grant Sterling

MENTIONS: @Canyon-PureCycling

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  • 11 0
 I suffered with CF for around 15 years. It's a bitch. I hope your GF doesn't go the same way... It's a journey like, most illnesses, in self discovery and getting to know yourself a lot more than most people ever have to. For me the mental impact was the toughest and it took a long time to realise, giving myself a hard time for having it wasn't helping... Be good to yourself. Eat right. Sleep right. 2 biggest things. Best of luck Justin.
  • 12 1
 Its crazy to see how often the top men or women are getting seriously sick during the EWS season. Last year Jerome and Anne Caroline, This year Justin, Nico, and Anneke. I wonder if the multi year workload is too heavy for people. If you look at tough endurance or long distance events like 100mile runs / multi century road races or even Crossfit games, they have a really serious problem with top athletes getting sick and burnout. It will be interesting to see how racers manage the fatigue over the next few seasons.
  • 3 0
 The sport seems to require both aerobic and anaerobic, fitness, or endurance and power. To peak at those simultaneously, and carry it through a season, is very tough.
  • 1 0
 I think it might have something to do with the fact that when you are constantly working at max capacity and working your body so hard to maintain fitness, the immune system can suffer and not be as strong, therefore making you more susceptible to ailments.
  • 8 0
 Got GF and thought I'd recovered until I developed CFS. Takes it out of you both physically and mentally and there's nowt you can do to cure or prevent it. Really frustrating when others just think you're being lazy. Think my best advice would be to give yourself achievable goals and reward yourself heartily when you get there. Also listen to what your body is telling you, don't over do it or you'll pay a price for it! All the best.
  • 2 0
 Hell yes, same here. CFS is soooo annoying because you want to just have a normal day but you just can't. When I had it there were some days when a trip to the toilet was enough to knacker me by the time I got out of bed and back in. And of course you look fine, super lazy, but otherwise fine. I actually found the frustration the worst part...
  • 8 1
 Yeah, in the states this is mono aka infectious mononucleosis aka "kissing disease" caused by Epstein Barr virus. Incredibly common and most will recover fully within a mater of weeks. Chronic fatigue can last for months, but I'm not sure where these cases of 10+, 15+ years of chronic sequelae are from. Biggest concern in the acute phase is risk of rupturing your spleen. Regardless of symptoms severity anyone diagnosed should avoid strenuous physical activity for at least 4 weeks. Beyond that, they're limited data showing risk of splenic injuries. In any event, hope to see him back racing soon.
  • 5 0
 Health is something we often take for granted until something stops working. I suffered an injury last year that had me non weight-bearing for 3 months and can empathize with the misery of being off the saddle. It is indeed the mental part that many overlook. It's like being in detention while everyone is out having fun on the playground! Best of luck to you Justin.
  • 1 0
 just had surgery on my clavicle yesterday. Difficult to be sidelined.
  • 6 0
 Being an athlete enabled you to recognize that something was up. It really makes you wonder how many sedate working class lazy people have a condition like this and just assume it's because of working and getting old.
  • 2 0

Epstein barr for us in the states. Sucks, but not life threatening and it should aubside quickly in a healthy athlete.

Best of luck!
  • 1 0
 Having had quite a serious bout of GF a couple of years ago, I fully sympathise with you.
I still get symptoms but just brush it off as poor lifestyle.
I have bookmarked this for later on tomorrow Wink as it's late now here in gloomy UK.
  • 2 0
 Thanks for sharing your story Justin. I can't imagine the hills you have climbed to get back. Best of luck and strength in the future!
  • 2 0
 Good to hear you are back on track Justin and ready to get loose in Whistler!
  • 1 0
 Some good advice in there about proper recovery. Good luck in Whistler man!
  • 1 0
 That really sucks, good luck for the races ahead. Similar thing happened to Rachel Atherton I think.
  • 2 0
 Hell yeah Jusso!!! Go for the win!!
  • 2 0
 Get back on it!
  • 1 0
 Yeah dude! Fight fight fight.
  • 1 0
 wow, glad you're back on the bike! sending healing vibes your way
  • 1 0
 Go Justin. Get strong and come back healthy.
  • 1 0
 Good luck for the rest of the season!
  • 1 0
 That bar is too high on your shoulders Mr justin.
  • 1 0
 Go Kiwi!

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