Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sick During Marathon Training

What's worse than being sick?

Being sick when you're supposed to be training for that marathon that's looming, out there, in the not very distant future, like a fully operational Death Star. You're supposed to be training your body to defend itself against the distance and the course. Instead, your flat on your back.

It can happen. Trust me. I've spent that last 2 days sick as the proverbial dog. Which when you stop to think about it is a weird proverb because even when my dog's sick, she seems just fine when she's not actually in the act of being sick. When I wasn't in the actual act of being sick, I was in bed, and either shivering or sweating like a pig, though pig's don't sweat.

I think we should keep animals out of our proverbial metaphors, at least when it comes to bodily functions.

So, what do you do about your training if you get sick?

Good question.


Patience is the key.

Your body just saved itself from some nasty marauders who meant to do it, and you, serious harm. Give it a break.

You're probably dehydrated. You might not have eaten anything for a couple days.

Missing a few days of training because you were sick is not going to ruin your marathon. Jumping back into hard training too soon, and getting yourself sick again, just might.

Respect your body and what it's been through. Give it a day or so after you are back on your feet. Then, try an easy run. If that goes well, then you're back in business.

But what about the training you missed? Do you make it up?

Another excellent question.

You're weird.

Those sick days are lost days. Don't try to make them up.

If you were down less than a week, ease back into your training, and be honest with yourself about how you feel and how well you are running. The more days you were sick, the longer this will take. Once you are running 100%, pick up with the training plan with the workout you had planned for that day. Essentially you pretend that those sick days, and ramp back up days, were part of the training all along, replacing whatever workouts you had for those days, and starting back on the original program as soon you are ready. It might be a bit of a jump up, since you could have missed a build-up step or two, but do the best you can. In no time, you'll be right back in the groove.

If you were down for more than a week, it's time to reassess your goals. You were REALLY sick. It's going to take a while before you're 100%. Consider changing your race to one a month or so later. If you can't do that, acknowledge that you're going to go into the race less prepared that you planned. Not your fault, just bad luck, and part of the plight of the marathoner. When you are full strength, after you've eased back into running, start back on your training plan where you left off, minus 2 weeks. That will give you a little slack to recover your mojo.

These are rough guidelines. I'm no doctor.

One of the key benefits of training for a marathon is the keen awareness you develop of our body. Like a good jockey does with his race horse, listen to your body, don't force it, give it time to find its stride, and then run it hard for all it's got.

I think that metaphor held together ok.

Good running,

Image from here.