I’ve never completed a training plan without getting sick or injured, and now I know that the approach to my April half marathon will be no exception. The beginning of this week has been head-cold–tastic, but I optimistically hope to be back on my feet on Friday. Nasal and sinus infections are becoming a frustratingly regular occurrence in my life, so I’ve spent some time reflecting on on this bout to try and understand if there is something I should have done more or less of.
- On Saturday, I ran the Bridle Trails Winter Running Festival with the awesome Eastside Runners Club. I was on a 3 person relay team (~10 miles each). It was the muddiest, sloppiest course I have run on in my life. The run itself felt good and warm — I wore a t-shirt and shorts and felt completely comfortable. Waiting for my teammates to run the final 20 miles was frigid (even tho I was bundled up), and standing in the cold may have played a role in coming down with a cold.
- On Sunday, I did a 4 mile recovery run to round out my 14 miles for the weekend. Maybe that would have been a good day to skip?
- On Monday, the Puget Sound area got one of its rare snow storms followed by uncharacteristically cold weather. Not wanting to miss a day, I did a 4 mile easy run in the snow. It took about 50% longer than normal due to the conditions. But it was so fun and I wouldn’t give it up easily. Could a run in the snow have sealed my fate?
- Monday I also spent about 1.5 hours shoveling show (divided between the morning and the evening). Shoveling immediately after the run in my wet running clothes may not have been a great idea (though I felt warm the whole time). Monday night I noticed that my throat had started to hurt. I started to get that feeling I always get right before I get sick — a cranial fogginess coupled with a tingling sense of impending doom in my face. Before going to sleep I used a nasal rinse.
- Tuesday morning I woke up with a sore throat and did another nasal rinse, but by this point I was down for the count. I stayed home from work and slept most of the day. I used Alka-Seltzer Cold to ease the symptoms so that I could sleep, and also had two more nasal rinses later that day.
- Wednesday I woke up early for a flight to Boston (going to the MIT Mystery Hunt) and as I type this I am on an airplane surrounding by people sniffling and coughing. Granted, I am one of the sick people on this plane. Maybe I am my own worst enemy,
I find it impossible to attribute a particular cause to getting sick. Maybe I was out in the cold too much? Maybe I passed someone who was sick two weeks ago and it just took a while to surface? That said, I think I’ve learned something about how to handle it when I do get sick. Assuming I follow through on this upswing and feel better by tomorrow, this will be one of the shortest head colds I have had in years. I don’t really believe in Cold Eeze and the like anymore, but I do believe that nasal rinses played a role in keeping my cold relatively tame.
A couple months ago, I saw an ENT specialist about my sinus issues. Their evaluation revealed nothing abnormal, and he sent me away with the advice that I should do a sinus rinse every single day. At the time I thought the suggestion was ludicrous and committed to trying to hit one per week. I picked up a new NeilMed sinus rinse (it turns out that replacing these occasionally is important) and renewed my efforts. After this relatively short cold I’m willing to let correlation be the better part of valor and start doing the rinses more regularly.
As soon as I started getting cold symptoms on Monday, I also checked in with my copy of Hansons Half Marathon Method to review what they say about taking time off due to illness or injury. Unsurprisingly, they seem to err on the side minimizing time off, and emphasize how much fitness will be lost for N days off from running. Their advice seems more geared towards injury situations (along the lines of “it’s OK for you to hurt a little bit”), but I will try to get back to it on Thursday or Friday of this week.