I love to train for the big race, get to the starting line healthy, and have a great day. No feeling beats it. With all the work I have put in, to see the results at the finishline is incredible. But sometimes, in spite of an endurance athlete's healthy lifestyle, the demanding training regimen can put them at risk of catching little bugs and viruses' that can turn into enormous upper respiratory problems. At least that's the case for me. And, after doing some research, I know I'm not the only one.
After this past weekend of long endurance trainig, I awoke to a raspy voice on monday- which i nursed all day since it was a scheduled day off. For those of you that know me, you know i struggle with allergies, so a raspy voice isn't that unusual for me now and then. The issue is to be able to tell allergy from illness, because I can train with allergies. I was terribly tired all day, but hydrated well and was sure to take all my vitamins and eat healthy. I woke up tuesday feeling really good, and put in a 3hr brick in the morning. but by the afternoon, I was sluggish and had a little cough which began to make me nervous. so i decided to skip swim practice that afternoon, and go to bed early.
Then, sure enough, i woke up wednesday morning with a lump in my throat, and a little tightness in my chest. I knew it was time to stop. and this time, I am stopping before it completely stops me.
[[you see, over the past few years, i have been prone to bad chest congestion - one bout putting me down for 44 days in 2006. I dont know what causes it, but it is likley set off by a virus, then made worse with allergies, or visa versa. Plus, i suffer from asthma, like so many others these days, so that adds to complications as well. In the past, I have worked and trained throught the sore throats, and mild coughs only to find myself very ill afterwards - and in need of serious medical attention. --If you have never suffered from the "drownig in your own phlegm" feeling, you will never understand how scary it really is. the last 2 times i was sick, i cried in fear i would drown before the prednisone would work to take the inflammation in my lungs away. I literally have been scared into paranoia about being exposed to illness and germs. and i am even more cautious now about training when tired or not feeling right]]
So here I am, at home for day 2 since my sore throat began. my chest still feels tight, but i am resting well and eating well and spending a lot of time online. What else is there to do??
My college degree is in Zoology, and I know I think a certain way that drives people crazy. I always want to know why stuff happens and am looking for proof of it. Like.... what is it that causes me to be sick? - and why does it go to my chest so badly? and does this happen to others? who? and what can I do to prevent it? is it as simple as a vitimin defficiency??
anyway, in my online endeavors, i have come across an article from the Journal of Athletic Training --
--which explains a lot of the mechanisms that go on during and after extreme training sessions. one thing i have learned for sure, is that if i think i am sick, i need to just stop. before it turns into something worse. it is better to miss a day and err on the side of caution, than to train not knowing -- then have the first line of defense (which lies in my lungs) be comprimised. apparently, there is a 3-hr window after a long training session in which my first line of defense (lots of scientific lingo -i'll spare you) against virus' and bacteria are weakened. so then, if i have a little stuff in my chest already, why would i want to weaken my defenses in my lungs by going out for a run? not! this, i know now, is not a good idea for me. I know there are some people out there that can work through it without exasterbations (lucky!), but if I do, it gets really bad.
It's just one of those things I have to manage. the key is to train hard, then hibernate for a nap for a few hours. and i didnt do that this past weekend....
So, with Age group Nationals just 2 weeks away, and a spot to Worlds on the line, i will continue to rest, and try to get a handle on this thing, and enjoy the timeoff (hopefully without going insane!). after all, the hay is already in the barn....