The short answer is an obvious NO. DO NOT TRAIN. But that’s not to say you can’t prepare mentally while you’re down and out with sickness.
So last week, I was floored with sickness, as I know many of you have been this flu season. It hit me without warning, with 103+ degree fevers, chills, coughs, sore throats, body aches, pains, the whole gamut. The worst is having it last more than 5 days. This basically destroys any plans you have to catch up on work, training, writing a blog, ANYTHING. Just down the tubes.
But while I was sick, I couldn’t stop thinking that maybe I could try and get out for a walk or do some sort of strength training exercises to keep my fitness level up. I had such a solid week of training leading up to the sickness, that when it hit, it was all I could do from going out and trying to suffer through it. But here’s the key: let your body rest. Figuring that your body is dealing with fevers and all the other physical symptoms of sickness, it is in no shape to log any training in what-so-ever. The only think it needs is rest, rest, and more rest. It’d be in your best interest to oblige.
While I was laying horizontal trying to watch episodes of The Office, I started thinking about what to do when sickness interrupts our training schedules. Do we get back on the wagon once we’re better? When do we know we’re better and can begin to push ourselves again? How hard do we push? How often? Well, this obviously will depend on the individual, but the best bet is to wait 3-4 days after you start feeling better to even begin thinking about going back out and running. Your priority should be to get healthy before you begin to push yourself again.
So while I was sick, I started dreaming and panicking about running and how much strength I was losing and how my endurance was suffering. Hogwash. All that did was fuel my fire to get back out there. I waited a good 4 days after my first fever-free day to get out and run. Even then it was probably too early. I could barely run a mile or 2 without being winded, sweaty, and exhausted. I went home feeling defeated. All that fire and desire was squashed with the realization that you really have to listen to your body when you’re sick. It aint nothin to play around with.
I decided that for the next 5-7 days I wouldn’t worry about how far I would run or how fast. It was just a matter of getting outside, and tracking how my body felt. It was going to be a mental game at this point seeing as I knew my body wouldn’t be 100% for awhile. Now that I’m almost back to 100% I realize just how much the mental game can influence your training. While I was sick, I wanted to be out running and was getting myself pumped for when I was healed so I could get out there and pick up exactly where I left off. Now in the healing stages, I realize that’s a lofty goal and listening to your body is key. Do not push yourself beyond your limit too soon. Your body will catch up to the training level it was at pre-sickness, just be patient with it. Use your sickness time to plan a slow and steady training regime to regain your strength and endurance. Just be conscious that your body will take time to get there.
But now that all that has been said, I think your best bet is to just stay healthy. So, the official Ginger Runner advice is: YOU DON’T GET SICK, YOU DON’T MISS TRAINING DAYS. Easy as that. Yup, easy as that.