When Sickness Strikes
|February 25, 2011||Posted by Lauren under Marathon Training, Running|
I’ll admit it, I’m no good at being sick. I’m not sure anyone is, really, but I’m fairly convinced that I’m up near the top on the “World’s Worst People At Being Sick” List. And I don’t only think this because sickness immediately transforms me from a capable, self-assured adult in her mid-20s back into my 3-year old self who wants nothing more than her mother. No, a huge part of the problem is that I spend the entire time that I’m sick being annoyed that I can’t run. It’s as though this sickness has been brought upon me purely to torture my runner’s brain.
I realize that this probably makes me sound like a crazy person who is addicted to running. But although I may love it more than the average person, I assure you that I don’t love running that much. I struggle with motivation just like everyone else, and there are plenty of days when I’d rather sit on my couch than head out into the cold night for a run. The cruel irony of it all, however, is that whenever I’m physically unable to run (whether due to sickness or injury), the desire to do it becomes stronger than ever.
This is always made worse when training for an event like a marathon. Marathon training spans the course of many months, after all. And if you want to be successful on race day, you need to start preparing well in advance. After months of planning and scheduling runs, it starts to take over your life. No matter how easy-going of a person you are, when you’re in training, there is always a portion of your brain thinking about your next run.
And that is why sickness drives me crazy. Because every run I build into my training plan is important, the more I miss, the more my stress level increases. Not only that, but the crazy Type A runner in me spends a good deal of time over-anaylzying whether or not I actually should run. I’ve touched on this before, but even despite the standard neck rule (above the neck, ok to run; below the neck, rest), sometimes it can be hard to tell.
Today, however, there was no question. The chest cold I’ve been struggling with all week long suddenly gave signs that it was turning into something more. And when a co-worker told me the flu that had side-lined her and half the office earlier in the week had started off as a dry cough (and happened to be caused by a strain not covered by the flu shot – just my luck), I knew I might be in trouble. So I took my slightly dizzy, space cadet self home and curled up in bed. Where I’ve stayed for the remainder of the afternoon. I may be stubborn, but I’m not dumb. When real sickness strikes, the best thing you can do for your body is to rest. Not only does running just feel plain awful in that situation, but it will wear you down and ultimately make things worse. If you want to be back on the roads sooner rather than later, you’ve got to take care of the bug before it turns serious.
Soup for the Sick: Spicy Spinach and Bean Soup made with vegetable broth, spinach, cannellini beans, penne, and spices (salt, paprika, chili powder, crushed red pepper, cumin, and a dash of cinnamon)
Doesn’t mean I have to like it though. Or feel moments of panic when I think about not being in good enough shape for the marathon in March (or the race I’m supposed to be running on Sunday!). But thanks to some words of wisdom from EC, I’ve let go of the craziness to embrace the healing.
In response to my complaint that it’s not supposed to be this way, EC asked: How many times has your marathon training gone exactly as planned? (Answer: none) So stop stressing. Nothing can go exactly as you planned it for 4 months. That’s just not the way life works.
He’s right, of course. And even though you probably have to be a little crazy to train for a marathon, you shouldn’t let the training drive you crazy. Because in the midst of all that training, life happens. You can’t control it, and you really shouldn’t want to. Marathon training is a journey. You do the best that you can with what you’ve been given, and when you toe that line on race day, you take a little leap of faith that the best you could give is going to be enough.
Chances are, it will be.