Friday, February 22, 2008

Running Away from Flu Season

Who has the flu? Everybody, it seems. This year's strain is a particularly nasty one. I've been paranoid for a good solid month that I'm going to catch it. Every tickle in my throat or slight sniffle compels me to wash my hands (again), drink an extra glass of water, eat my veggies, and add a few more blueberries to my morning yogurt concoction.

My kitchen may soon be dubbed Antioxidants "R" Us.

But it's tricky to know when to take a day off from training in an attempt to stave off illness. Yesterday is a perfect example. I had been traveling this week and was overtired already. My throat was a little sore, I had a dull headache all day long, and just felt a bit off.

The decision I was facing: Go to swim practice, or take the day off.

Because of my traveling, I hadn't been to practice at all this week, though I had gotten some good running and cycling sessions in. The guilt of missing an entire week of swimming made it tough for me to quickly jump to the choice to skip it. Besides, there are times when a workout actually makes you feel better. Maybe this was one of those times.

With an hour left to decide, I popped a couple of Advil and took a quick hot shower (yes, I know it's weird to take a shower before working out, but sometimes it can get rid of a headache). I started to feel better, so I headed to the pool. Halfway through warm-up I knew I had made the right decision. It was a tough practice, but a good one -- I was a new woman when it was over.

It's a tricky spot to be in this time of year, when so many people around us are coughing, sneezing, and curling up in the fetal position with full body aches. My philosophy? It will never hurt to take one day off, especially if it saves you from catching something that will have you sidelined for a week or more. I was fully prepared to bag my swim if I was feeling lousy after the first set.

Listen to your body -- even if you're not training for anything or not an athlete at all, learning to recognize the signs it inevitably sends you can save a lot of grief. For me, it's time to chill out and lay low if my resting heart rate is elevated, I feel drained or unusually fatigued, I have a drop or loss of appetite, or a workout that should be easy seems hard.

When your body is fighting off an illness, you need to let it do its thing and not bother it with the nuisance of keeping your busy schedule. Take a time out. Or, as we like to say at Race with Purpose: Rest your body, or your body will rest you.

And if you do come down with the flu, my message to the world is this: FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, STAY HOME! Nobody wants you spreading your germs. And nobody is that important. We promise the world won’t end because you had to take some time off to get better.

This hereby officially ends my rant for today.


William said...

I know - everyone's been sick in my office - and they decide they have to touch everything too. So now I talk at a distance from everyone.

Coach said...

if we pass the virus around we'll eventually all become immune ;D

Coach said...

Oh, and you're a braver soul than I am. Even healthy I get sick coming out of a pool where people are snotting, peeing, and spitting, especially after the youth swim team gets out of the water.

Strouter said...

Ha - well 14 years of being one of those swim teams kids probably makes ME immune! :-)