I’m sick of being sick.
My cold symptoms made their first appearance two weeks ago Monday. I dismissed the scratchy throat and stuffy nose as mild annoyances, and believed wholeheartedly that they would be short-lived. I was, after all, practicing oil-pulling and garlic feet.
By Wednesday morning I didn’t feel any better. So I did what any sensible person would do. I went for a run.
If you remember, I made a commitment that I would run at least 60 kms in the month of April. But more than that, I also set a goal to participate in a 10k race, either on April 26th (in Toronto) or May 10th (in Vegas) – depending on my travel plans/location.
With both dates looming, and a shit-ton of training left to do, I decided to run. Despite what was by then a raging head cold.
7.5 painful kilometers later, I made a vow to my hacking, wheezing, self not to run again until I was feeling 100%.
Fast forward to the following week. No cocktail of vitamins, green smoothies, copious intake of water, or low impact sweaty activity was able to banish this scourge.
I flew to NYC on Tuesday. My plans were to get a ton of work done each day at the Times Square-area office, see some great Broadway shows AND run again in this city I love so much.
The best laid plans…
Work got done. Shows were seen. But not a single step was run.
What kind of Ebola was I dealing with? Why wouldn’t this thing die? I was bitter, but I wasn’t being stupid.
I knew I needed to let it run its course, so I could eventually run my [10k] course.
After a good, restorative, night’s sleep back home in my own bed Friday night, I awoke breathing easier Saturday morning. I hadn’t coughed in ~24 hours and both nostrils appeared to be in good working order. In short, I felt like I had finally beat this thing.
So I laced up my running shoes and hit the pavement.
On the agenda was Week 7, Day 3 of my 10k training app: a one-hour run. I hoped to better both my distance and pace. This despite the fact that my previous run took place 10 days earlier. And there had been zero running since then.
A smarter person may have eased back into training with a shorter run, say capping at 30-35 minutes, or 5k total.
Yes, that would probably have been a smarter decision.
Alas, smart decisions weren’t to be the order of the day.
The 5 minute warm up felt great. Look at me, I’m a warrior. Ain’t no stinkin’ cold gonna slow me down!
The next 6 minute run interval felt pretty good as well. And by pretty good I mean I my calves were exploding in pain with each strike on the pavement.
Apparently actual stretching before my first run in 10 days would have been a good idea.
This was not a day for good ideas though.
Ah, but then one sweet minute of walking. Thank you, benevolent run coach. One minute never felt so good. Or flew by so quickly.
And onto the next 7 minute running interval, the fourth minute of which featured an uphill climb.
The good news is that I momentarily forgot about my exploding calves when I felt the sting of shin splints as I leaned into that incline.
While my mind felt ready to get back to the work of training for a 10k race, my body was not.
But I could have fought through the tight legs, I think.
What I shouldn’t have ignored was my laboured breathing. And my running nose. And the wheezing sound I was starting to make.
I noticed all these things.
I noted that I hadn’t felt those things in 48 hours. And yet those symptoms were now back.
And I ignored them.
I kept running.
Each successive one minute walking interval felt shorter and shorter, until I wasn’t even able to catch my breath in those 60 seconds. My heart rate raced. I was drenched in a cold sweat.
In short, I was making myself sick.
And yet, inexplicably, I kept running.
All the while, having an internal conversation/debate with myself:
Reasonable Me: This is so stupid. Why am I doing this?
Stupid Me: Hey, my pace isn’t too bad, despite feeling so nasty. Why quit now? I might as well just finish the training. I’m out here already.
Reasonable Me: I FUCKING HATE RUNNING. This is so gross. My body is breaking down with each step I take.
Stupid Me: Wow! That was the fastest 1k lap yet! Keep going, girl!
Reasonable Me: I hate you. This is so stupid. I am going to do this because you are relentless. And then I’m going to do that fucking 10k race. And then I AM NEVER GOING TO RUN AGAIN. EVER.
Stupid Me: Fuck you very much then.
Reasonable Me: Fuck you too.
I made it back home and reviewed my stats. I ran negligibly farther than the previous run [7.6 kms]. But my pace was slower. And this upset me.
Note, I wasn’t upset at my decision to go for a run when I wasn’t 100% healthy. Nor was I upset with my failure to acknowledge the clear signs that my body was breaking down and getting sicker with each step.
No, instead I was upset that I had pushed through, tortured myself, and wound up with a less than stellar result.
I spent much of Sunday trying to get inside my own head, exploring what drives me to make some of the decisions I do.
Physically, I feel worse than I did a week ago. And what’s worse is, I did this to myself.
An ugly cough has taken residence in my chest. I’m likely to be sidelined from high-impact exercise for at least another week. If I’m smart, that is.
I’m making a decision to be smart.
I will not run again until my chest is clear.
I realize this will, in all likelihood, derail my plans to run a 10k race on April 26th, and may even render the May 10th run non-viable. Am I okay with this? No, not really.
But I have to find a way to make peace with it.
Achieving goals is awesome. But not at all costs.
Its high time I learned that lesson.