Saturday, September 22, 2012

Coping With Illness

I'm trying to be chill about this training cycle....while also of course nailing every workout and reaching my race goals in one triumphant December climax.

Ha! I know the second half of that sentence isn't possible for any of us imperfect beings. Still, when I noticed last week that I'd developed that tell-tale tickle in my throat, I tried to pretend it (it being "coming down with a cold") wasn't happening. Then, thanks to two nights of bad sleep due to a stuffy head, after which I had to admit that it was happening, I tried to be smart about it. My husband Dan (who is not ruled by emotion or race goals) told me to sleep in and maybe take a day off from running. I took part of his advice. I slept in on Monday, but ran later, on my break at work. For a few days after that, the thing seemed to be in remission. It was still there, but it didn't get any worse. I felt tired, but I was still getting my runs done, and mostly at the usual level.

On Thursday, I was able to grab a nap, but I woke up from it still tired. And yesterday--a fun day full of running friends in town for the Denver Rock n' Roll Marathon and Half (Kathy! Erin! and Erin's coach!), spectating at Jill's son's high-school cross-country meet where I also got to meet Marcia and then dining with our wonderfully nice next-door neighbors--left me literally....speechless.

My voice died last night at about 7 p.m. It hasn't come back 20 hours later. The kids and husband are all whispering back at my whispered comments to them. My throat is so sore I'm speculating about strep. On top of that, my chest is tight, I have a painful little cough, and I've spent most of today (during which I was supposed to go cheer for everyone in the Denver races) in bed asleep or sipping Annie Chun's Noodle bowls, reading about my friends' races and missing two other parties my family was invited to. I had a run on the books (90 minutes with progressively higher heart rates) that I was really looking forward to but now am missing and (depending on what Darren tells me and/or how I feel tomorrow) may have to skip altogether.

My questions are these:

1) Could I have avoided this had I taken a day off as soon as I knew I was getting a cold? And by taking a day off I mean not only not running but also calling in sick to work and sleeping all day. Dan thinks so, but to me it's so hard to say. The rule of thumb we've all heard is that it's OK to run through colds as long as you hydrate and as long as the cold is above the neck, which this one seemed to be for most of the week. I didn't really break that rule.....did I?

2) Does this really have the awful and dire implications for the Detroit half-marathon and the California International Marathon that I'm fearing in my current dark mood? It's one thing to miss a run. It's another thing to miss a LONG run. And when your long runs aren't all that long yet, you need 'em more than ever, right?

3) How do those of you out there who are smart deal with training illnesses? Because while I hope this is the only one I have to deal with until December, the reality is that I have small children who just started at a new school. There will likely be more sickness in my house this fall (and perhaps this whole academic year).

Like it or not, this isn't going to be perfect. Doesn't it stink to not be perfect?


  1. BUMMER. On the bright side: the lost voice and the cough are good signs that this is most likely viral (i.e. not strep). I remember learning in primary care that laryngitis is 100% viral. Do you have a fever? Gargle with warm salt water (salty like sea water), ibuprofen for the pain. If I were there I would make you my "grown-up cough syrup," which is hot water with lemon, ginger, honey, and BOURBON. I don't have an answer for your other questions. You are awesome.

  2. Missing one long run shouldn't be that big a deal! Unfortunately, you have a good point that you have tiny germ factories living in your house. School children are so bad about spreading germs, so Charlotte's pediatrician doesn't want her around them during flu and RSV season. It's rough. Feel better!

  3. Ah, feel better real soon! Sorry I haven't been commenting of late, but I have read every single post. I'm seeing your massive progression from totally injured to running long runs and so thinking a few rest days ain't going to kill you or your goals. That's coming from me though, the QUEEN of any excuse will do :)

  4. Ugh, so sorry you're still not feeling well. Don't you hate it when life gets in the way? Don't fret, your coach will be able to work around this an rearrange your just concentrate on feeling better. The more stress you have, the longer illnesses take to heal - remember that!

    Was great to see you yesterday and thank you so much for coming out to cheer Ryan and the others on. Funny...while we were turned to tell you good-bye, Ryan and his whole team came through the finish line - and I (we) missed them cross. haha. Oh well.

  5. Terzah,

    First, get better soon. Second, relax! Colds are colds, they come and go, and a run here or there will not likely influence them. Humans get sick, it sucks, but no one escapes illness. Again, many wishes for a quick recovery.

    Next, a missed run here or there, even a long run, will not make much of a difference on race day. The training is a guide, not a mandate. Following it exactly promises no end goal. Varying from it in minor ways, whether exceeding or undercutting its plan, also promises no increase nor decrease in performance. The point is not to follow the running guide in letter, but to follow it in spirit. You will be out there again as soon as you are healthy running about the tempo and the distance that the guide recommends--that, the effort that the guide recommends, and not the exact distance and tempo--is what is important to accomplishing your goal.

    On the third question, I think you just hope to be as healthy as you can for the race, and run it to the best of your ability. What else can you do? Mustard poultices? Not sitting on pavement?

    Maybe I'm breaking a code rule of blog posts here, but you are too long a
    good runner to ask such questions. Perhaps they are to spur discussion?
    Either way, that is my take on them.


  6. I know we talked at length of all these ups and downs of 2012 - seriously, all we want to do is run and be well. But what can you do ???
    Do NOT let this get you down or diminish your conifdence - you are far too strong for that. The better care you take of yourself for the short term will pay off with your running long term ... ahem, thus speaks the overachiever who pushed too hard and turned a cold into a 3 week ordeal. If you miss a few runs, you miss a few runs. You'll have the benefit of fresh legs when you get back out there.

  7. i strictly follow the above the neck, below the neck rule with running. i find that when i am starting to get sick that a good night's sleep (i'm talking almost 10 hours) will cure all. you need to rest and not make things worse. if you push it, your illness can turn into bronchitis, etc. - something far worse than what you have now that will require a week or 2 (gasp!) off running. feel better terzah!

  8. Kate's remedy is mine too. Grandma Harty did use this and it really works!!

  9. Sorry that you are nor feeling well and missing the long runs is pretty serious when you are training. I think that taking some time when you are not feeling well is the best thing for you so you can rest and try to recover. I think you will be fine for the Detroit half marathon and CIM is still a few months away. Set your goals for CIM and I think you are going to be fine. Hope you get your voice back and are feeling better soon!

  10. no - missing your long run doesn't have dire implications for Detroit, but it might for our Betasso run next week. :( Do what your coach says and I have no doubt you'll have a great half. And hurry and get your voice back - we have some gabbing to do!!!!

  11. I hope you feel well soon! For me it's seems when I have a cold coming on it gets bad whether I rest more at the start or not.

  12. I swear by zinc lozenges and Wish Garden's Kick Ass Immunity tincture at the first sign of any niggle that might be a cold. It has nipped it more times than not. Oh and tons of VIt C too.