National MS Awareness Month: Q&A with Lindy Haaglund

For National MS Awareness Month, we wanted to gain some insight and understanding into this debilitating disease from those who live with it. On of the many obstacles MS-affected athletes often battle is overheating, some have found that Dr. Cool chemical-free cool apparel helps to alleviate and regulate these overheating issues. Our awesome team of ambassadors includes three athletes who train, compete, and live through the effects of multiple sclerosis. One of these athletes is Lindy Haaglund, avid mountain biker and Idaho native.

Lindy has never let anything stop her. She has a passion for all things sports—from being active and physically fit to the nature of competition in general. She got her start in long distance running, but between being diagnosed with MS and displacing her hip during a race, she turned to mountain biking instead.

Since then, Lindy has been competing in races all over the Pacific Northwest and continues to push her limits. We recently contacted her and asked what it’s like to be an athlete with MS, as well as what her plans are for 2016!

Q: How does MS affect your performance as an athlete?

Lindy: If you have ever ran a race, either cycling or running, you can relate to the feeling at the end of the race when you have pushed yourself to a point where you have no more to give. Your muscles ache and twitch, your legs don’t want to move, your arms are weak, and even lifting the water bottle to your mouth is troublesome.

Mentally, you’re fried—your brain keeps saying you’re not going to make it, and your body temperature is sky high. Now, imagine if this is how you felt not at the end of the race, but at the beginning.  This is my reality as an athlete with MS, and this is how I start my races.

Q: How do you address these affects when preparing for a race or an event?

Lindy: MS affects everyone differently. For me, I have to find ways to deal with my diagnosis and prepare for my race that not only gets me to the finish line, but to the podium.  Hydration and diet is key days before—I am focused on what I am drinking and eating with that race in mind. I’m also glued to the weather, making sure my kit is dialed in to help me stay cool for as long as possible.

I also do a lot of meditation and visual training. I have to block out my pain, visualize my numb foot staying on the pedal, visualize both my legs pedaling equally, and visualize me standing on that podium. I also have my pit crew in place to help me before, during, and after my races, since my needs can and do change so quickly. Honestly, without my support I would not be able to do what I do.

Q: What are your goals for 2016?

Lindy: Oh, I have high expectations for 2016! This year my main focus will be the Idaho Enduro Series, which will have five stops this season. The women that compete in this series is deep and I love a challenge! I will also be racing Cross Country this season—having already competed in California and placing first in my category, it looks like this season is off to a good start! Outside of racing, I plan on volunteering with the Boise Parks and Rec Adaptive Program, which gives adults and children with varying disabilities access to adaptive bikes and an opportunity to experience the freedom that comes along with riding!

You can follow Lindy through her Instagram account @seelindyride, and through the Dr. Cool blog!