So I sit here on Friday evening 5 days in to a cold. I started feeling the scratchy throat and lack of power on the bike last Saturday morning. I kidded myself into thinking it was a bit of fatigue after a busy week and slogged on regardless. The next day I woke up early to do my 1st Sunday of the Month Swim (1SOMS) at Clifton 4th Beach. The water temp that morning was a chilly 12C but that didn’t deter me and I had a relaxed swim without pushing too hard. I carried on with work appointments into the afternoon and finished Sunday evening feeling quite flat.
Day 1 – Monday morning came and BAM my throat felt like I had a cactus lodged in it and my body was operating at 50% capacity. I am not a Monday person at all and waking up with that feeling compounded my misery even more so. I contacted work and said I wouldn’t be in then went back to bed. Waking up before noon I felt a little refreshed but still as flat as a pancake. I then began damage control on missed appointments and my training sessions. Thankfully Monday is a slow start to the week training wise with a light swim but with me feeling so flat over the weekend I had planned to move out my long run until the public holiday and this now looked to be a potential non starter. Of course I dosed myself up on vitamins and drank plenty of fluids and wrapped up expecting my condition to improve markedly. I was of course only fooling myself as Monday slowly got worse and I could almost feel the little germs moving down onto my chest with a couple of coughing fits. My training and Tuesday run was definitely on hold now!
Day 2 – Tuesday was a public holidayand I woke a little late and I thought I was feeling better, WRONG. I had not even been out of bed 10 minutes and the coughing started and then called for reinforcements with the aches and pains arriving to do battle with my body soon after. I tried to take some solace from the fact that I had peaked for my Puffer training and that it was perhaps good timing that I was sick now and not closer to race day. I was silver lining hunting but my mind was rejecting the notion of giving in to the internal struggle and focus on my training schedule to be prepared to hit the ground running. For much of that day I wandered around taking care of little tasks before getting fatigued and frustrated. I hated not being at full capacity particularly as it was Womens Day and I hoped that the bouquet of proteas I got the florist to make up helped my inadequacies whilst our dinner date had to be postponed.
Day 3 – Wednesday was tough as i had a terrible night of sleep and awoke feeling that my chest was carrying around dumbbells. The sun was out and that certainly brightened my mood thankfully I had a full day lined up with appointments and quickly got stuck into work and tried to forget about being sick. The day flew past and a fascinating talk by Dr Ross Tucker from the Sports Science Institute of South Africa on ‘What Makes a Champion’ was the perfect way to end the day.
Day 4 – Thursday started slow and I had grand visions of going for a run at lunchtime. A friend even called me to make an arrangement to run this evening but alas I cancelled as I was feeling wheezy and told him I couldn’t. He must have known I was really not in a good way because I usually try to run no matter what. After work I headed to the mall to pick up some stuff for our cats and then as @beanker was working late I decided on an early evening movie, Captain America was the choice to kill the blues and switch off for a while. It worked as I felt a bit perkier coming home and after supper I had the usual dose of med lemon and rooibos tea and headed to bed waiting to see what Friday held.
Day 5 – Let’s hope this is the last day as it’s also the start of the weekend! Today has been a helluva busy with some exciting prospects and developments on the work front as well as feeling more perky and my normal upbeat self. I was feeling so much better I even decided to squeeze in a quick haircut and start the weekend looking like a new man. Cutting the odd bits of silver out certainly made me feel better!
So what has this week taught me? Or rather how has my body schooled me!
Never underestimate the first signs of a cold or fatigue.
It is your body’s way of saying slow down buddy you are doing too much and it is time to take a bit of R and R. If you ignore those signs even as slight as they may seem your body will take the decision out of your hands. At that stage what could have been 24 or 48 hours recovering from a head cold then turns into a full-blown damage limitation in avoiding a sick week or two or perhaps even more. It really boils down to the level of respect and discipline you have for listening to your body. Like many other active people out there when I have a goal I become one stubborn so and so and nothing is going to stand in my way in achieving it! However when the signs start arising it I inevitably spend more time fighting those sickness signs and fatigue rather than being sensible and taking the time off to recover. It is after all about the bigger picture, isn’t it?
Eat, Sleep and Stay Positive.
Ok that is three lessons perhaps but they go hand in hand as any active person will attest. These three simple guidelines cannot be underestimated and should be applied in equal measure whilst training towards your goal. I could have chosen the movie title here (Eat, Pray, Love) but I prefer to apply those to when you have actually started your race or event and then need all the help you can in getting to the finish line. So back onto the lesson I mentioned (not the movie title) and I am going to try and keep it simple. After all I am just another active person like you that wants to stay fit and healthy and hey what works for me may not work for you. I am just sharing my thoughts.
Remember to enjoy your food and don’t be worried what other people think. Everyone is an individual and we all have our own needs, appetites and desires. Besides they may not be running, cycling or swimming the next day so don’t be shy in fuelling your body for your next training session. Just remember to not do it too close to your activity as you may not be able to enjoy it as much.
Never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep. Next time you want to break that PB or get through a long day of training or racing you will value that time you have banked sleeping. I also recommend cat napping just remember that it may not be a great idea to do it at work or whilst you are in the middle of an activity. A quick 30 minutes or even an hour of just shutting your eyes and switching off can revitalise you.
The power of the mind is simply amazing and staying positive can get you through the toughest of situations. How many of us have used this skill when training gets tough or that finish line does not seem to be getting any closer. I picked up a great phrase from a surf movie called Blue Horizon a couple of years ago that I often use now. The movie is a fantastic story about two surfers, featuring great cinematography, exotic locations, a kick ass soundtrack and the late great Andy Irons. In this movie there is a part with one of the characters father (Rasta) and how he used positive visualisation to win a World Junior Title.
The phrase is Think it, Feel It, Do It.
It is a great phrase simple yet effective. The phrase can also sum up my experience this past week with illness and that is when you think you are getting sick, feel you are getting sick then don’t delay do something about it!
So homework for you all is to stay away from sickness and when things get tough. Think it, Feel it, Do it!