Last week, I wrote all about “My Next Journey.” In a very typical turn of events for me. I didn’t get off to the running (haha !) start I wanted too. I had a very solid start to my week but the Midwest allergens came though like a freight training and darn near knocked me on my a..bottom. Finally giving in and visiting a doctor, I was diagnosed with an ear infection, sinus infection and bronchitis. Ugh!
I am beginning to feel much, much improved. As the week progressed I had to battle what every runner will face. Am I too sick to run? When should I push through and when should I sit out? I always error on the cautious side. I don’t want to sacrifice long term goals for short term success. Plus, I really am not completing any structured training, at the moment. So now was a great time to back off and let me body heal. I’m glad I did.
To run or not to run, that is the question! Here are some general guidelines I follow when determining if I should proceed with my run as planned, modify it or scrap it all together.
- Primum non nocere- “First, do no harm” Runners are a stubborn lot. Taking time off can be a curse word to someone who has built up a substantial “streak.” The bigger picture, however, what is your goal. What are you working toward? If running will do more harm than good, than taking a day or two of shouldn’t be the end of the world. You aren’t loosing fitness if you take a day or two to allow your body to recover. You may actually benefit, in the long run. As you will be able to reach 100% more quickly and begin getting back to workouts that will improves your fitness. I learned this the hard way last year, when a sinus infection and my annual case of bronchitis spread and I was sidelined with walking pneumonia.
- Something is better than nothingIf you are feeling under the weather, grabbing a killer track workout may not be your best option. However, you may get by with a shortened easy run to maintain fitness without overly stressing your body. If you have a mid-long or longer run. You may be able to cover the distance by breaking it up a bit through two shorter runs. This may not be ideal over a long marathon cycle. You need those longer runs for various psychological and physiological benefits. Doing this once maybe twice to get in the miles during a rough patch, is however, a great option.
- 10-15 minute ruleDon’t make decisions on the couch. The couch is evil! The couch has a way of making you feel lethargic, drained and flat out unmotivated. If I am questioning whether I should run or not, I can only do so after a 10-15 minute jog. I can usually figure out within that 10-15 minutes whether running is a good idea or bad idea without causing too much harm. If during that 10-15 minute window I am struggling, counting down that time to finish and symptoms are getting worse. Its an easy call for me, 8 need rest. There are many runs, that I was certain I wasn’t going to complete, but after 10-15 minutes of easy running I felt well enough to go through a planned long run or workout.
- Congestion-Above or below the throatThis rule isn’t 100% set in stone for me. Mostly, because I have chronic seasonal allergies that would sideline me for weeks at a time if I totally followed. The idea is allergy symptoms and congestion above the throat, it’s usually okay to continue with a run. It’s time to work on your snot rocket form! If you are completely stuffed up, don’t get too hung up if you’re slightly off your splits for the day. Symptoms below the neck typically are more severe and you should consider taking the day off.
- FeverStop! Do no pass go! Do not collect $200. Your body needs rest and fluids. You will not gain anything from your workouts that day and will most likely only further to fatigue your body and immune system as it fights off whatever it is causing the fever.
Remember the main idea behind the training process. You are stressing specific components of your body. When you do, the body is forced to recover, and then it tries to over–compensate. Making it stronger so that it can handle a larger stimulus later. This calculated stress/recovery process doesn’t work if your body is already broken down from illness or injury. Pushing through does not make you tough and will most likely put you further behind in your training cycle as you have fatigued it, even more.
In case you missed my last post…check it out here