For a runner, needing to skip workouts because of illness or injury is frustrating. I used to be the athlete who rarely blew off a workout. Nagging pain? No problem. Runny nose and hacking cough? I’d tell myself to toughen up and get out there.
Often, that attitude is fine. Sometimes, though, a tiny twinge snowballs into a major injury that derails months of training. Recently, I’ve tried to be better about listening to my body, but sometimes I don’t like to hear what it is saying.
I caught a cold in the beginning of March. At first, it seemed like a typical head cold, but the congestion, aches, and coughing stuck around for more than two weeks. When determining whether to run with an illness, I evaluate my symptoms using the neck rule: Congestion, runny nose, and other above-the-neck symptoms? Head out for a run. Chest congestion and body aches mean that instead of lacing up, I force myself to stay on the couch with tea, a blanket, and a book or favorite TV show.
This strategy usually works. After a couple of days of R&R, I feel much better and pick up where I left off. During this stretch of training, though, I took a couple of days off, felt a little better, went for an easy run, and then woke up the next morning feeling sick again. When I attempted more difficult workouts, I either couldn’t complete them because of exhaustion or coughing fits.
After fighting with my body day after day, I decided it was necessary to take a break until I felt 100 percent better. As a result, my Shamrock Shuffle time was slow. In fact, I didn’t even beat last year’s result. Still, I had fun; it’s one of my favorite races of the year, and I’m trying not to dwell on the outcome. Instead, I’m focusing on the miles ahead.
I’ve drafted a training program that culminates with the Rock ‘n Roll half marathon on July 19. I’m happy with it for now, but I plan to make adjustments during the weeks ahead. The plan has a good amount of work at target race pace as well as distance, speed, and hill workouts to prepare my body for the stress of 13.1 miles.
My runner friends and I talk about the role luck plays in a PR. We all work hard, but staying well and injury-free are huge contributors to success. And then, you can get less-than-ideal conditions on race day. Cold, wind, heat, and precipitation all can affect times. Wish me luck during the next couple of months. I’ll need a hefty dose of it to meet my goal.
Do you have any tips on keeping training on track while sick or injured?