I woke yesterday with a head cold. AGAIN. I can't tell you how irritating this winter has been already... sick three times in December (only one the flu), and now it's back again. I'm blaming it on the swim. These sinus infections find a way to suck the life out of me... My eyes become painfully dry and tired. My head and ears feel like I've been up in a plane. Oh-yeah, and there's this nice drizzle flowing from my nose. Help! We're running out of Kleenex...
I found myself in a quandary yesterday. I didn't want to run. I didn't want to do anything but plant myself on the couch and wallow in pity. But I had already put off my tempo run a day. It had to be done Thursday to allow myself enough rest before Saturday's long run. Damn, it's only week two of training and I feel like I'm hanging on for dear life already.
So after procrastinating most of the day, I hauled my butt down to the basement treadmill shortly after 5:00 pm. Thankfully, I had rented a new movie, so the kids were occupied nicely. Grudingly, I started up the treadmill. How can I hate something that I spent so much money on last winter? More importantly, how was I going to bang out 7 miles on this hamster wheel?
I started off with music blasting, quickly bored after the warmup mile. Then I remembered the built-in internet in this bad boy. I pulled up tvguide.com and found the last episode of The Good Wife that I missed. I tried to fall into a groove at the 6.2mph setting on the treadmill. My tempo run dictated the 5 middle miles to be at a 9:44 pace. It proved harder than normal. My head was still throbbing. I had to blow my nose every 1/4 mile. And I couldn't turn the fan on because it blew right in my face (not cool when you're already sick). I was so hot that I stripped off my tank top to use as a sweat towel. Thank goodness I'm solo in my basement, falling apart like this.
Around 5.5 miles, it started to get difficult. I clicked Julia Margulies off and turned up Kelly Clarkson to bring this run home. Whenever I'm training for a specific event, I practice visualizing the finish line. As I struggled to hold pace in the last 1/2 mile, I imagined entering Hayward Field, rounding the track and finally crossing the Eugene finish. I might have even cried... but no one can confirm that.
7 mile tempo done.
SICKNESS: SHOULD I RUN... OR REST??
If you feel lousy, you should probably rest. A day off is not going to kill your training. Now, if you're a Type A personality like myself, you'll probably run anyway. The general rule is to do the Neck Check Test.
If your symptoms are above the neck (runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, congestion, etc), an easy run probably won't do you any harm. In fact, it may even help clear some junk out. Exercise releases adrenaline, also called epinephrine, a natural decongestant. This explains why a run often times seems to clear nasal passages. Snot rockets while you run, anyone? You should keep the run easy and light. Pushing a tempo run like I just did is not recommended.
If your symptoms are below the neck (fever, fatigue, muscle aches, vomiting, diarrhea, chills, sweats, swollen glands or a hacking cough), this typically indicates the presence of a virus. Running under these conditions increases dehydration and can lead to more serious problems. Take a day or two off. Rest and nurse yourself back to health. When you return to running, you may need to adjust your training and ease back into it.
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