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.


  1. When did being sick go from being a reason to play hooky and take a break to something we dread because we Just. Can't. Slow. Down. Maybe it's a sign of getting older. I definitely missed my workouts, and tried to hit it pretty hard last night, probably a little too hard but oh well.

    Feel better soon!

  2. aw, feel better!! i hate having to take days off from working out, too, so i feel your pain.
    i think the magic cure is always LOTS of rest!

  3. Again, feel better. It sucks when there is something wrong with your body. I'm pretty sure that my husband and I got sick at the same time a few weeks ago. I went to the dr and got meds. He stayed home and didn't, said he wasn't sick. So he's still coughing, sneezing, blowing his nose. Every time he does it, I ask, "Oh, are you sick?" And he says no, it's just allergies. I then have to remind him that he doesn't actually have allergies. ha!

  4. My Stay-Healthy secret? Lead a hermit-like existence, making contact with as few people as possible. Avoid old people and children during this time of the year as if they were plague victims or lepers.

  5. @Jessica - You're right. How sad that I can't slow down even when I'm sick! When I was home on Monday, I cleaned the house, did the laundry, and baked muffins.

    @WWNW - Rest? What's that? ;)

    @Stokat - Glad you got your meds. He should know better than to claim allergies, especially around you!

    @Michael - Hm. That's not a bad idea...

  6. I know how stir crazy being sick can make someone, but believe me, it is important to give yourself permission to rest...AND ENJOY IT GOSH DARNIT!

    Honestly, I'm the worst person to give feedback on this because I'm all like "I have a fever, can't go to the gym, HOOOOOOORAY!" but do listen to your body. If it says it needs to rest, listen.

  7. So sorry to hear you've been having such a hard time! I hate being sick and I know what you mean when you say walking to the mail box is like a ten-mile run. Here are some of our all-natural pagan/folkloric health tricks-

    If I start feeling like I'm not at my best, I take an Echinacea tablet. It is supposedly an immunostimulator. You remember that 2-year period during which I was ALWAYS sick? I started taking Echinacea and got sick less often. Now that I think about it, I haven't been sick in a while. Seriously - consider it. It either works or believing it works works. You can get Echinacea anywhere vitamins are sold.

    Garlic battles bacterial AND viral AND fungal infection, so if you don't already eat plenty in your cooked meals, you might want to try. Some women swear by garlic as a cure for yeast infections. You can read about some of the weird garlic treatment methods online. I haven't tried any of them myself, but for the most part, they more or less seem to make sense biologically. Garlic is also a good antiseptic and has been used in the treatment of cancer and heart disease. There are studies going on right now using garlic to treat various illnesses in AIDS patients.

    I've been working on a blog entry about oregano; it's also got plenty of medicinal/health benefits. Not only is it used for treatment of colds, flu, and fevers, it can also ease menstrual cramps. It's high in antioxidants. I've been adding more and more oregano to my tomato dishes. And it's REALLY easy to grow, FYI.

    What kind of tea are you drinking? Chamomile has a lot of health benefits. (I have some dried flower heads if you need some.)Spearmint, too. I used to grow Chamomile - an easy grower and you end up with more flower heads than you'll ever need!

    I also drink plenty of water and eat lots of fruit, especially berries and citrus fruits. I could probably try to get more sleep. I'm iffy about multivitamins.

    Hope you start feeling better soon! I'd say you're probably one of the healthier people I know. You eat right, you exercise, you stretch/meditate (yoga) - you'll be back on top in no time!

  8. Wow - that didn't seem that long while I was writing it. Sorry 'bout that!

  9. Do not apologize! And thanks for such good info. I do eat a ton of garlic and I'll look into Echinacea tablets. I mostly drink peppermint or chamomile tea, but I buy it at the store so it's not fresh.

    And I do feel better already! It was a short-lived cold, but happened over the weekend which was the worst part. :)

  10. Erica - don't you have your own blog? :)

  11. I hear what you're saying about feeling funny calling oneself a runner!

    I rarely get secret? I don't wash my hands all that often and I try not to use that anti-bacterial gel crap. I work with college students and they're sick but show up to our sessions nonetheless. I got exposed to germs last year...even probably N1H1 (or H1N1? totally blanking) and didn't get sick. I also didn't get the flu shot. I figure exposure to germs while rested and well fed creates a strong immune system. I like to sleep (a lot!) and listen to my body, especially about going to bed early weeknights and sleeping in on weekends.

  12. Hope you start feeling better soon. Liam has been fighting something nasty all week. I honestly think it's because he's ever really been exposed to germs from other people that much, since he hasn't attended preschool until now. So, I think there might be something to what queerveganrunner says, about letting yourself be exposed to germs to help strengthen our immune system.

    Sort of reminds me of that bit that George Carlin did once on the fear of germs.

  13. @QVR - I am also a big fan of germs! Nathan is actually a germaphobe (he says it's because he studied microbiology - I don't buy it) and I think that exposure to all kinds of germs is a good thing. I also work on a campus, and didn't get H1N1, even though three people I worked directly with did. Germs work!

    @Carleen - little kid germs. That's a whole different ballgame!