Thursday, January 20, 2011

With Drugs, A Week; Without Them, 7 Days

I have so many blog posts I'm in the middle of writing - which is a commentary in itself: so many tasks left half completed, paused so that sleeping can occur A, eating can occur B so training can occur C because it is doesn't occur C then it can't also occur D... - but then this topic exploded across the sky of my world, dominating things and sucking the oxygen from the room so to speak.  So it's what you get first.

I try to live a healthy lifestyle: vitamins, minerals, balanced diet, hand-washing, extra sleep, always overdressing or simply not going outside when it's stupid cold and hurricane windy, flu shots, refraining from licking the weights at the gym, not eating the gum off the soles of my shoes...the list goes on.  [And yes, I realize the irony that I try to lead a healthy lifestyle to support an unhealthy life, which is what I sometimes think this.  Do you know how far above the weekly exercise recommendations professional athletes are?  ...A ways.]  But I can't always protect against the things I can't see, even using a microscope, and wham! SICK! 

And literally on the floor, or close to it last Saturday, when I got so dizzy when I got on the trainer that I almost fell off...of a fully supported piece of training equipment.

But that does not mean I got off.  *sigh*  [forehead hits wall]

As a coach, I always tell my athletes to be aware of how the session is going, how things are feeling, and to pull the pin (aka stop) if sudden pain, injury, or other dangerous situations arise.  But I will be the first to admit that this takes guts.  It takes courage and strength, of a different kind than what gets you to speeds where hamstrings and Achilles snap.

I am not a hero for pushing through Saturday's workout.  I'm not smart for pushing through.  I was not being gutsy.  Nor strong-willed.  Or HTFU.  Or (arguably) getting faster.  What I was was consciously operating with blinders on, hopeful that in the short-term I could bear the burden of a little more risky behavior.

If I had been willing to be fully aware of how things were feeling, I might have seen the signs of illness maybe as early as Thursday night in a few rib-shaking coughs.  I would probably have seen them Friday night during my tempo run - which was far uglier than it should have been considering how I prepared for the session.  So now it was Saturday and I'm practically weaving in traffic in my living room on the trainer and I'm determined to finish my session....because I'm a [cough] determined [hack] and dedicated [cough] tri [cough] [hack] athlete.  I was aware of how things were feeling, trust me, and I still did not pull the pin.

When did I finally pull the pin?  8 minutes into my transition long run on Sunday.  I spent a mile thinking how I was doing something I tell everyone not to do, how stupid I was being, how I could not wrap my mind around running two more hours feeling like this...  One step was a run.  The next was a walk.  It was long, cold, self-pitying way home. 

And considering how utterly bad I felt later on Sunday, I can not summon how much worse I would have felt had I finished that run.  [Shudder] 

I am often the voice of reason and soothing when one of my athletes has to bail on a session, for injury or illness.  Interestingly, my own coach had to fill that role for me.  Just like I couldn't take my own advice about pulling the pin, I couldn't take my own justification that not training myself into a bronchial infection was worth not completing a long run and nearly notching a dastardly "0" in the training log.  I absolutely knew I was doing the right thing - and had been putting off the doing the right thing - but what if I was just being *gasp* weak? 

Now I am wandering through the Hall of Mirrors known as "recovering from illness."  It's almost  as much of a maze as the House of Horrors that is "recovering from injury."  How long should I take off?...I'm getting lots of sleep so I must be rested and ready to go!...My cough is gone and my nose isn't dripping so I can start training again...oh wait, maybe it's because of the cold and cough medicine I just took...My first session after two days of sitting felt great...oh wait, normally I'm not that rested before I train...Hmm, things aren't jumping right back on the rails...maybe my body isn't quite over the on-the-floor-ness of this past weekend....

"With drugs, it takes a week to get better.  Without them, 7 days."  Or so the saying goes.  But oh ho, if I have learned anything from rereading this post, it is that I will surely try to squeeze those 7 days into fewer.

If you have learned anything from reading this post, it is do as I say, not as I do.  And do not lick the weights at the gym.

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