I have been down and out for about a month now and before I got my diagnosis, the doctor stated, “this just doesn’t make sense because you are so healthy”! Yes, even healthy individuals get sick and as runners we are not immune to illness, especially if our stress levels are elevated due to training or life in general. My recent illness has been one for the books, but a good reminder to be careful with what you ingest on the trails! In any event, my training has taken a major hit just when I felt my motivation return.
Runners are generally a tough group of people who can push through a tremendous amount of pain, as well as illness. However, there is a time when you have to relent and realize that you body needs to recover. I am a terrible patient and always take medical advice with a grain of salt, but for this illness I knew that I had to slow the fuck down. My body could barely keep anything in for nearly four weeks, which made me susceptible to dehydration amongst other concerns. Every time I tried to resume normal activity I found myself back in bed for a solid day. This was not an illness to push through and this damn parasite reminded me everyday that I was no match for its potency. However, there are some illnesses that you can work through, but I would suggest connecting with your health care provider first. I believe that runners are very attuned to their own bodies and if you feel that your illness benefits from some fresh air and movement then go for it, but use those days as easy days. Just like my suggestion in the motivation blog, start with ten minutes and if you start to feel worse turn around and head home.
Now, when it comes to racing I don’t think it is a good idea to race with illness. Even if its a key race, I would suggest having a plan B. It is hard to hold back in a race and the likelihood of worsening your symptoms is very high. I have seen athletes who have raced sick and even have raced well, but it could also be a recipe for disaster. For most illnesses, taking two to three solid days of no running will help fight the illness faster. You will not lose much fitness at all during this time and it far beats being laid up for a few weeks or in my case over a month!