The Bright Side

I’m still suffering through an unpleasant cold, which started in my chest and migrated to my head (the opposite of what usually happens, so that’s a fun twist!), and I need to change my outlook. While I’m unable at present to look on the bright side of what’s happening in this country, I can at least try to put this break in running in perspective.

I’m not one of those runners who is always champing at the bit to run, who eschews rest days, who sees “off-season” as a slur. If it was still frigid, I wouldn’t mind as much, probably. Maybe. But it has been unseasonably warm, and while the long term implications of that are downright terrifying, I am acting like a petulant, spoiled brat. I suffered through those frigid days; I deserve to be running now that it’s warmer. I have to accept reality, because clutching tightly to this frustration is not helping me. Especially since one of the benefits of being unexpectedly sidelined is:

  1. I am taking a mental break from running.
    I didn’t have to put on stinky clothes one day this week (sorry, I can’t afford to buy a ton of winter gear, and it is not good for my clothes or for the environment to wash them after every use. I will stink and that’s it). I didn’t have to ponder how slow I am this week. I didn’t have to step aside into knee-deep snow for a biker; or run over someone’s unshoveled, icy sidewalk; or run down a completely deserted road only to encounter the only car I’ve seen for 15 minutes just as I reach an intersection, leading to an awkward encounter where they try to wave me through even though they got there first, or where I got there first and they don’t even see me and then I swear at them. Running will be fresh and new and delightful when I start up.
  2. I am taking a physical break from running.
    The twinges in my knees, back, hips, and feet are going away. My skin isn’t exposed to stinging cold. This is a very good thing.
  3. I have time to run errands or do other things.
    I went to Target. I got my hair cut. I sat on the couch and did nothing. I don’t have to do an extra load of laundry.
  4. I would really feel worse if it was colder and I was sick.
    Going out in the frigid temps with the baritone cough I’ve been blessed with would be torture. I know I said it would be easier to not run, but everything else would be worse.
  5. I could be, and have been, sicker.
    I’m not breaking out into a sweat just standing. I’m not out of breath walking from my bedroom to the bathroom. I have been able to work at least part of every day this week, and I am extremely fortunate to have a fair sick leave policy. I am doing the right thing by resting, rather than trying to run through this illness or come back to running too soon. When I tried to do that, I was so out of commission I had to leave what was supposed to be a week-long training in the first hour.

I found 5 reasons to be positive! That’s pretty darn good, I think.

Sick Of Myself

I’ve had a bit of a cold for the past couple days, which normally means I don’t run. I’ve been trying over the past year to be cautious and rest whenever I’m sick, rather than running through an illness and prolonging it. But that’s resulted in quite a few long breaks, and I only ran twice last week, so clearly time off from running didn’t help me stave off this latest cold.

Tuesday, I was attempting to do a tempo run, kind of like last week’s: 1 mile at 11:36 pace, that went ok, and then I was trying to do 1.1 miles at ~10:30 pace followed by 1.2 miles at ~9:30 pace, but during the second interval, I realized it wasn’t going to happen. I had no energy and was struggling to keep the pace, so I knew there was no way I could run the third interval. I decided to slow down and make the rest of the run an easy run. I cut it a little short, too, since I was attending my friend’s first game on the Marshall JV hockey team.

The next day I woke up sneezing and with a bit of a cough, plus a generally foggy head. Surprise, surprise. But I’m running this dumb 5K this weekend, I’d taken a gorillion days off in November (I didn’t even run 100 miles!), and I’m still reading Racing Weight, which is making me feel badly about myself, so I decided to run.

And I didn’t die! And I didn’t wake up yesterday feeling worse! (I felt the same.) And then I ran yesterday, too! Amazing.

So, I made a calculated decision and it paid off. I could have just as easily woken up feeling like donkey crap, and screwed myself over for this 5K that I don’t even want to run but I couldn’t drag my sorry butt out of bed on Thanksgiving so now I must. I’m glad that it worked out but I was really tempting fate.

I’m sick a lot. I’m not 100% sure why, but I have a few hypotheses:

  1. I eat like crap. Ok, trying to fix that. Entirely my own fault
  2. I don’t always get the best sleep. Sometimes this is my fault, like if I stay up too late reading. Sometimes it isn’t, like when I’m stressed or my stomach’s upset or I’m in an uncomfortable bed (like a pull-out couch, or a cot).
  3. When my allergies are triggered (by dust, pollen, cat dander, or some other unknown substance), they tend to open the door for a cold. I try to take an antihistamine but sometimes it’s too late. I take a preventative one when cleaning!
  4. I have had pneumonia and a couple of cases of bronchitis that seem to have done some lasting damage. I didn’t get sick nearly as often before my first bout of pneumonia about 10 years ago, nor did I get sick in the same way. I used to get a sore throat and a stuffy nose but was able to power through. Now I get a foggy head, labored breathing, and break out into a sweat when I have to walk more than ten feet. I was lucky this last little illness didn’t turn into that (it could have easily!), and I would not be running if that was the case, I’m not an idiot.

I ordered this list according to how much control I have over each potential cause for the frequency with which I get ill. Since I’m planning on improving my diet, and I guess now I should be planning on improving my sleep, I will have to see if that makes enough of a difference that I can stave off or minimize my next encounter with a yucky bacteria or virus.

Zumbro 17 Training: Weeks 6 and 7

I haven’t run in 15 days.

This stretches back to before my vacation. I ran Monday (2/22) and Tuesday (2/23) of that week, for about 10 miles total (Bagley on Monday night, treadmill on Tuesday), but on Tuesday I noticed my heart rate was more rapid at my normal paces, and I kept feeling like I needed to cough. Knowing I was going to be on a plane on Thursday, I rested Wednesday and felt ok.

Florida was amazing, although it wasn’t exceptionally warm. It was warm enough and sunny enough, but it wasn’t 80 degrees and tropical. I slept poorly and woke up early every day, so I didn’t want to tire myself out further with exercising. I maximized my family time. I suppose I did get some exercise in, in the form of an aggressive game of… I’m not sure what, basically bopping a beach ball around in the pool. It doesn’t have a name yet, the sport is too new.

I returned to Duluth on Monday (2/29), and woke up in the middle of the night because I couldn’t take a deep breath without my lungs trying to cough. I spent the next 2 days working my abs by coughing up a storm. I still haven’t been able to fully shake whatever is wrong with me. Basically just a lot of crap in my lungs. Of course, another plane trip to Calgary for work, with its already dry air exacerbated by the stuffiness of my (otherwise lovely) hotel room, ended up setting me back a lot in recovery.

I am not going to push myself to get back to running, but I really do hope that I can return to running either this weekend or next week. I’ve been very fortunate that I have had no other symptoms (other than tiredness, but that’s to be expected since I’ve been traveling and my lungs are full of crap, so my pulmonary system isn’t working efficiently), but until I can take true, cleansing, deep breaths without feeling like I need to cough, I won’t run.

Zumbro isn’t a goal race, although I did have high hopes for an improvement in overall pacing. The 17 mile race has a nice generous cutoff time, thanks to the 50 and 100 milers, so even if I’m not in perfect shape, I should be able to finish it, even with, say, 2.5 weeks off. I’m just disappointed by the length of this illness.

I may decide to make a new training calendar, focused on the Superior Spring 25K, in order to change my mindset a little. I wish I was running (especially after my friend, visiting last weekend and also training for Zumbro, had a great trail run on the SHT), but at the same time because I feel crappy, I also lack enthusiasm for running. I lack enthusiasm for most things, actually.

I did enter the lottery for the Moose Mountain Marathon in September, though! Because I do know that my ennui will fade as my health improves.