Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Training While Sick

It might seem strange to start this training blog with a post about training while sick, but it's a timely topic given that, just three days after I picked up the gauntlet thrown down by my sons and entered the Salem Triathlon, I came down with pneumonia.  I haven't even started training yet.  I figure that, at this point, I'm at least six weeks behind, what with the actual time off from training plus the time it will take to get back to where I was before I got sick.

Illness can throw a monkey wrench into the best training plans.  How do you deal with it?  Do you just power through the illness?  Or do you sit morosely at home, wrapped in blankets, watching your triathlon year slowly circle the drain?  There's a rule of thumb called the neck rule.  This says that if your symptoms are confined to your neck and above (sniffles, sneezing, stuffy nose, maybe a mild sore throat) you probably just have a head cold and can exercise if you feel like it.  If your symptoms are below the neck (body aches, cough, fever) you should take time off.  In all cases, let your body be your guide.  If you have sniffles and generally feel less than 100%, but your training schedule has a hard set of intervals today, scrap the schedule and relax.

But what about the time off training, the setback in our plans?  For those of us over 55, realize that it isn't a setback.  For us, the goal isn't to win.  It isn't even to finish.  We're using triathlon (or cycling or running or whatever) as motivation to exercise, because exercise helps us live longer, more enjoyable lives.  As if I needed to be reminded of that, today I got a text from Brad, who is finishing med school.  He wrote "keep exercising, dad.  I'm seeing a patient who is 55, on 16 medications and has to use an electric wheelchair."  When you get sick, it's just a temporary pause in your life.  Don't stress that you're not on target with your training plan.

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