You wake up, you’re coughing, your nose won’t stop running, and you feel like your head might explode! Problem is, your legs feel fine and your Boston Marathon training schedule says you have an eight mile run to do. What’s a girl to do? My marathon training started that way, which was not optimal. Now, I’m no doctor, but I have trained for nine marathons, a handful of 70.3 distance triathlons, and a full Ironman, all during flu season, and I survived them all.
Athletes, coaches and trainers continually discuss balancing training and rest. Unfortunately, there isn’t a right answer. Personally, I go with what most trainers suggest, which is “Run by Feel”. Take one step at a time: lace up, put on a semi-smile, head to a familiar running spot, know the turnaround options, and do what you can. In other words, you could run a single mile, or log all eight. Sometimes, aerobic activity actually helps move some of the “junk” around, and I’ve experienced feeling better post-run.
Even with numerous symptoms at the start of my marathon training, a run was just what I needed. I went out in Encinitas on the coast highway, heading toward Solana Beach. I wanted to log six of my eight miles, because that was a distance I could feel pretty good about. Running didn’t feel great at the start, but I kept going until I found my rhythm. At my three-mile turn around, I definitely didn’t feel strong, but my lungs felt open, my head was clearing, and my stride was just fine, (Plus, the sunshine felt awesome. Who doesn’t love a little San Diego vitamin D?)
So here’s my takeaway: run by how you feel, and don’t push too hard if you’re suffering through a heavy flu or allergy season. For runners, sometimes the best medicine is to get off the couch and get outside. You never know, you might get a few more miles in than expected! Oh, and my final suggestion and small disclaimer…..put aside vanity during these runs. Wear a baseball cap and sunglasses, and don’t be afraid to “hock a lugie” or get rid of “snot rockets” (as long as it’s not on any fellow runners.) Trust me, you will feel so much better!