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When Sickness Strikes

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.

sick girl


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.

Spinach & Bean Soup

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.


19 Responses to When Sickness Strikes

  1. I’ve just fallen sick. I blame the weather. I really hope it’s just a 24 hour thing and I can run tomorrow. Clearly, I’m one of the stubborn runners who wants to run even if they feel like crap :-)

    • Oh no!! Sorry to hear that you’re sick! Keeping my fingers crossed that you and I will both be better in the morning.

      And I know what you mean. Running earlier this week just may have gotten me in this position in the first place…

  2. Hope you feel better soon. Take care of yourself and focus on getting well. You are totally going to rock the marathon so just let this be some time to rest and relax.
    Samantha @ Health, Happiness & Skinny Jeans´s last post ..26 Things Thursdaywait- whaaaat

  3. Oh man, I was sick for almost two tweeks during this training cycle. Just rest. It happens to everyone and is totally normal; we always pick it back up.
    Page´s last post ..Cookin’- Cauliflower Mac ‘N Cheese

  4. I’m so glad that you’re home and resting. It’s exactly what you need to be doing right now. We all want you to be your healthy ontherun self real soon and rest is the only way to make that happen…although I’m sure a cupcake wouldn’t hurt. Take it easy, my friend!
    Becky´s last post ..Cape Cod and Cupcakes

  5. I hope you get well soon! But this will give you some time to fully heal from the fall you took a couple of weeks ago. So maybe it’s a blessing in disguise?

    Rest. You deserve it!
    Jan´s last post ..Whats on your phone

  6. I am the same way about running when sick! I was horribly sick over Christmas and it just about killed me to take a week off to recover. I hope you feel better soon. Take care of yourself!
    Michelle @ crazyrunninglegs´s last post ..Healthy kinda Pastitsio

  7. I hope your resting pays off and you start to feel better soon! Or well enough to run tomorrow anyway. Definitely a good idea to rest and eat lots of soup. It is really hard to get sick during training, but you’re right – there are always setbacks and unexpected challenges, it’s just a matter of how you deal with them and move on. Good luck tomorrow Lauren, I hope it goes well!

  8. Hey girl, I’m so on board with this. I think the same goes not just for sickness but just for LIFE, when it occasionally gets in the way. I’m on week seven of my training and I just moved to a new city and just started a really demanding part time job and I missed a run and shortened another and I CRIED about it. I mean seriously?!?! Who cries about this?!! I recognized that I was giving training too much power and that life happens and missing a few runs because you’re sick or stressed won’t kill you, and that over four months, it really doesn’t matter. But I feel you on the frustration.
    Courtney (Pancakes & Postcards)´s last post ..Marathon Training Emotional Phase Two- Apathy Plus- a Green Giveaway!

  9. Ughhh feel better my friend. Tomorrow is going to be interesting to say the least. And to tell you the truth, totally agree with EC – when you work full time, its hard to have marathon training go exactly as planned! See ya in the AM!
    Lizzy´s last post ..Happy 2nd Birthday &amp Giveaways!

  10. Oh gosh, I the biggest baby when I’m sick! I feel bad for whoever is taking care of me!

  11. So sorry to hear that you are sick. I understand what you mean about it messing with your runner’s mind, I am the same way. Take care and I hope it works out that you will be able to run Hyannis. Looking forward to seeing you.

  12. Ugh I totally get you, I have no patience with being sick either…

    Hope you get better soon, rest and sleep is the best thing there is for healing. Even though it can be difficult to stay in bed, do!
    Mari´s last post ..This is not a recipe…

  13. Oh man, Christopher is definitely near the top of the worst people at being sick list too! He’s always so strong and confident, but when he’s sick he becomes totally helpless, haha! Anyway, hope you feel better soon!
    Rach´s last post ..An Eccentric Experience

  14. I hope you feel better soon. You’re right though; when you really are sick, rest is the only thing that will help.
    Lee´s last post ..Big Green Salad

  15. I love your blog! So sorry you are sick :( I totally understand that ANNOYED feeling! But rest (and soup!) will get you back up and running soon :)
    LIz@FitLizzy.com´s last post ..A Much Needed Day Off…

  16. You are being 100% smart to take it easy, even though it’s the hardest thing in the world when you’re in the middle of training like you are. When you’re that sick, it’s not good to mess with. Hopefully some needed rest will get you better faster! Take care and hope you feel better soon :)
    Kelly´s last post ..Running Update &amp Brussels Sprouts

  17. I’m guessing you feel better now because you ran the half yesterday, but taking it easy is the right choice. You will rock the marathon, even if you are sick for a week.
    Liz´s last post ..Weekend Recap- Roommate Reunion Edition

  18. I hope you’re feeling better and are out on the road again soon! I used to try to push through when I felt sick, but after my diagnosis I’ve realized that my body is trying to work FOR me, not against me. Whenever I feel the slightest bit sick, I immediately take it easy. It definitely works. That soup looks awesome!
    Erin @ Big Girl Feats´s last post ..Big Girl Says Relax

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