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What to Do When You Get Sick Before an Endurance Event

endurance event

Cold and flu season pisses me off. When you have three kids, they bring home three different sets of germs, and as a mom wiping the dribbles away and getting coughed on and licked (yeah, I don’t know why but I get licked sometimes), I catch all of the germs. So if one of my kids has a cough and one has the sniffles, it’s like I get the souped up version of everything — the mutated stronger version of the virus or quite possibly two different colds at once (is that possible? Like can you have a minor cold and then also get a flu strain or another version of the cold? Probably! I’m going with yes because I swear it happens to me.) But the season makes me so mad because as a mom, you can wash your hands until they bleed and it doesn’t matter: You’re going to catch those sniffles too. I hate feeling like my immune system is on vacation right when I need it most.

Like right before a half marathon.

Yep, on Sunday, with less than a week to go before my first half marathon, I felt a familiar tickle in my nose. Then I was clearing my throat more frequently. On Monday, I was dialing in parenting from the comfort of the couch and with the comfort of Disney Junior on the TV. I wondered how I’d be able to run more than 13 miles if I couldn’t even get off the couch. But I didn’t panic. Instead, I took steps to heal — and fast.

What to Do When You Get Sick Before an Endurance Event

1. Rest. Rest. And rest some more. There is almost nothing you can do to speed your recovery other than resting. I laid on the couch all day, only getting up out of necessity, like when I had to pee, give the kids food, or clean hands because someone used her hands as a convenient butter scooping tool. I then went to bed at 8 p.m.

2. Don’t run. It goes along with resting, but when you’re sick before a race, take it easy. It’s better to rest and skip a short run or two and feel better than push yourself too hard and boomerang in the opposite direction. When you’re trying to get over a cough, working those lungs isn’t going to be pretty.

3. Think healing thoughts. Instead of panicking, I’m just going to use my powers of positive thinking to imagine that I’ll feel better by race time. It doesn’t hurt right?

4. Hydrate. I’m so bad about this particularly when I’m sick and nothing sounds good to eat or drink, but drink those fluids. You will not benefit come race time if you have been dehydrated for a week.

5. Do the math. You’re going to obsess, so count and recount those days and hours until race time. Compare the time remaining with the recovery time your last cold required — and then compare that to your worst cold. It will give you no news about the duration of your current cold, but it’ll give you something to think about while you’re on the couch resting.

6. Be realistic. Maybe you’d planned on a PR. On the heels of recovering from an illness, it might be hard to run at your peak. It doesn’t hurt to set a gentler, slower goal. For me, I’ll automatically PR. I just want it to not be the worst run ever.

7. Be honest with yourself. If you’re too sick to run, bow out gracefully. It’s better to cash in on that race insurance than to push yourself and crash and burn at mile 5. There is another race around the bend.

So don’t panic. It could all work out. I still have a few days to rest and recover, and considering that I was able to get to the grocery store, take the kids to dentist appointments and do tons of laundry when I could barely get off the couch the day before, the worst is clearly over. Hoping it continues to clear out.

Ever gotten sick before a big race? How did it pan out?Erin


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