He share’s his thoughts on managing illnesses, mitigating the risks of injuries, and maintaining a balanced approach to training.
“As we head into the thick of the season where sniffles and flu bugs abound, I thought it pertinent to share some insights on how to navigate the tricky terrain of marathon training (or really any other distance) when you find yourself under the weather.
Firstly, let me acknowledge that illness is no stranger to the running community, especially during the winter months. Now, I’m not a doctor, so it’s crucial to consult with a medical professional for personalized advice. However, I’d like to share some wisdom gleaned from my nearly 25 year running career.
Imagine this scenario: you’re a month away from trying to achieve a sub-three-hour marathon, and a nasty bug decides to sneak up on you. What’s a runner to do? The answer isn’t one-size-fits-all, as it depends on various factors, such as the severity of your illness, the type of infection (bacterial or viral), and your individual immune system response.
Let’s break it down. If you’re dealing with a minor cold—sniffles, a mild sore throat, maybe a headache, but no fever—you might be able to continue activity, albeit with some adjustments. Dial back the intensity, skip the hard VO2 Max workouts, and opt for at least two days of easy jogging. Keep an eye on symptom progression and adjust your training accordingly.
Now, if it’s a more serious infection with high body temperature, fever, severe coughing, and body aches, hitting the pause button becomes imperative. Take at least one or two days off entirely, allowing your body the rest it needs. Gradually ease back into training with light jogging, paying close attention to how your body responds.
Drawing from personal experience, I recall preparing for the North Face 50-mile endurance challenge when the flu decided to crash the party. A solid five days of complete rest were in order, and let me tell you, it’s better to be overly conservative during these times. Rushing back into training can set you back more than you’d think.
Now, let’s talk about cardiovascular fitness. The fear of losing gains during a few days off can be daunting, but rest assured, a short break won’t send you spiraling. It’s better to take a few days off and return almost 100 percent than to risk exacerbating an illness.
Moving on to injuries, it’s essential to differentiate between manageable muscle soreness and more serious issues. Ice, easy days, and cautious running may suffice for mild tendonitis, but a stress reaction or a full-blown muscle tear demands attention. Listen to your body, consult a specialist, and don’t play hero when it comes to injuries.
In summary, navigating illness and injury during marathon training requires a delicate approach of listening to your body, seeking professional advice, and embracing a conservative approach. Remember, it’s okay to hit the pause button; your long-term success is worth it.”