Wednesday, September 22, 2010

being sick sucks

Every since I became a runner*, getting sick has taken on a whole new meaning.

One upon a time, catching a cold meant a few days of sniffling, sneezing, and mouth-breathing. Maybe I would stay home from work or school and watch six episodes of Gilmore Girls in a row. I would probably go to bed early - 9pm at the latest - drink tea, and eat endless slices of toast. Getting sick was sucky, of course, because no one likes to be sick, but it was also relaxing, a reason to play hooky from life, slow down, and take care of myself without feeling too terribly guilty.

Now? Getting sick is a whole new ball game. Last week, soon after we returned from our trip to Massachusetts, Nathan came down with a cold. He tried his hardest to keep his germs to himself, but as soon as he got over the worst of it, the worst seemed to settle on me. This wasn't an especially terrible sickness - I was not throwing up, I did not have a fever, and at no point was my life threatened. What is was, was annoying. I was exhausted. I couldn't breath through my nose. Walking to the mailbox and back felt like a ten mile run. Needless to say, I didn't workout while I was sick. In fact, I didn't run for eight whole days.

Eight. Days. No easy runs, no long runs, no tempo workouts, no speed sessions. I was irritable and restless, and not just because of the cold. Because I didn't want to sit on the couch and eat toast. I wanted to run, to log miles and follow my plan. Getting sick during training sucks, but getting sick right before a race (like, for example, getting bronchitis two weeks before your very first marathon - coughAustinMarathoncough) is heartbreaking. I won't let it happen this time, even if it means I have to wear a surgical mask for the whole month of January.

This morning, I finally felt well enough and rested enough to run an easy three miles. I have a 5K this weekend, and two half marathons on the horizon - one in October, and one in November. I don't have any grand plans for the 5K, though a PR is always appreciated, but since it's the first race of the season I'm just looking to see where I'm at and how much harder I need to work. I'm glad I got sick now and not later - I don't get sick often, so I'm hoping this bump in the road will mean I've got a good stretch of health before me.

My strategy for staying healthy is usually just lots of water, enough sleep, tons of fruit, and a multi-vitamin a few days a week. What are your stay-healthy secrets? I'm willing to try (almost) anything!

* I still have trouble thinking of myself a runner, even though I've got two half marathons and one full under my belt, and I have to keep reminding myself that one can be a runner, even if long ago one was chosen for remedial gym instead of the cross-country team.