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  • Richard Cash

172. Dealing with illness in training

The last 3 weeks have been frustrating. After what was a positive start to my Base-Building phase (12 weeks) to my 6.5 month training cycle for the 100K in July, I hit a big bump in the road being side-swiped with one of the weirdest and nastiest cold/flu/beer-flu type illness I've had in over a decade. It started with my stomach, then my nervous system (even my fucking teeth hurt), then my head, and finally a spectacular chest infection which saw me coughing up blood and a trip to the ER. Not good.

It was pretty brutal and left me totally floored. Not withstanding the impact on work, the knock my training took has been epic. Three weeks off my feet. Entirely.

The silver lining to this little dark grey bastard cloud is that it came early in the cycle rather than late on. It has been very frustrating after putting in some hard work to watch it all unravel. I'm now through the other side. I still have a sticky cough, but energy levels have returned and I've just had my first very easy run. It was one of the slowest runs I've done in a year, but it was a run. That's a win. My approach to dealing with this was a very simple one. Rest and get the vitamins and anti-oxidants in. Though saying that, I let myself eat whatever I fancied just to get calories in and help cope with the misery. It stalled my weight loss but I had more important battles to get through. I had to resist the urge to run. Especially when trying to get over the chest infection. The last thing I wanted was to stretch this out further than was necessary.

It was hard. Especially as I started to get through to the back end of it. I've learned my lesson for coming back too hard too soon. It helps to see that every run or walk, no matter how short or slow, is a win. I'm behind where I planned to be by a couple of weeks, but I'm banking on being able to make it up as I fully recover. The lungs are the big factor here. They're still pretty tender, so only very low intensity aerobic training is the plan for the next week to get the oxygen flowing in my system. I need to clear my chest of the nastiness that I'm still coughing up, and get the system pumping again to help move it on. The aim is to work my lungs, heart and legs to get them back to full strength without risking a relapse of some kind.

The biggest challenge is getting back to the consistency, and not focusing on pushing harder to make up for the loss. That's a really easy trap to fall into, and I'm proud of myself for avoiding it (as anyone following this journey knows I used to make a habit of going too hard too quickly). Rest is almost always the answer to stuff like this. It's so easy to watch your fitness level dwindle on the data and feel frustrated. Resisting the urge to do a cheeky 5k as a 'test' just because you can now get off the sofa, is more difficult than many realise when you have a schedule and deadline to work to. I got through a 30 min non-stop (very slow) jog in my low Zone 2 without no adverse reaction. I'll go for a stroll later if I get the time, and go again for a slow jog tomorrow. If that feels good then I'll tackle a slow long run at the weekend and feel out whether I make it a 10k, 15k or 18km distance based on how I'm feeling when I'm in it.

No matter how far or how fast I go, It's all bankable as another aerobic base building session, and that'll be another small victory.

Thanks for reading...

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