I like to think of myself as a fine example of a durable, disease resistant, high performing human specimen - largely owed to my athletic training and focus on quality food. These past few days have left me feeling more like a high maintenance, needy, frail example of the same. Training tears down our bodies and building them back up is no trivial task. I suspect I am guilty of overtraining by way of too much intensity and a lapse in nutrition.
I joke that when my dog runs with me he will push himself to death with no consideration for himself. He does this to stay with his pack. Turns out me and my pup share this common trait, though his motivations are nobler than mine of race times. I will learn from this experience. Some of my anecdotal observations follow.
Can physical exertion - say running or swimming, ward off cold and flu when we feel them coming on? Hell no. My tale of woe goes like this. I had a touch of body aches and upset stomach Friday and felt like death later that night after a 45 minute swim. I hurt on the inside and out with stomach pains, fever, shortness of breath, and general muscle fatigue. Sleep was elusive. I got desperate and even tried to sleep on the floor with my dog. I suspect I had a genuine stomach bug combined with fatigue from overtraining.
Can high intensity activity aide in recovery coming out of cold and flu? No, again. Monday I saw a doctor who must have subscribed to a three day philosophy. He said my stomach was active but since it was the third day I should be coming out of it. I should see him Wednesday if I was not better. Really this is what I pay money for? Back on topic, Monday night I felt better and ran my distance run I had been putting off. Definitely a bad idea, I woke up sick again the next day. The stress and drop in hydration was too much.
Can moderate activity aide in recovery coming out of cold and flu? Maybe but it is all pseudo science and anecdotal tales. I slept for 20 hours Monday night and Tuesday morning, this was likely the real cure. Sure I got up to hydrate and eat hot meals like cream of wheat and tortilla soup but sleep was number one. I had a bumping head ache by the time I did get up, thanks to my coffee/caffeine addiction complete with withdrawal symptoms. Coffee helped but didn’t cure all that ailed me. The slowest one hour bike ride of my life did, leaving me feeling refreshed and headache free.
I feel as if I was smarter and wiser when I wrote Flexible Training: Coping with Minor Illness and Injury. Early acknowledgement, sleep, hydration, and hot meals are all good ways to minimize the time we are sick. Chalk up my recent dumbing down to being blinded by exploring new territory (swim), upcoming races, newbie ambition, and general arrogance. Every so often I have to relearn the same life lessons the hard way.