Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I Am a Human Petri Dish

For the last three weeks, I've been walking a fine line. Kind of like, I've been on an old rickety bus, hanging on for dear life, and hoping the wheels would stay on -- just so I could make it around the bend. Three weeks ago, while in Canada, I caught a cold, which turned into a sinus infection. Just when I thought I had it beat (and therefore went and did some hard workouts), it came back, with a new twist.

Last Tuesday, I woke up, having a plan to drive up to Brighton and do 8 VO2 intervals. VO2 intervals are hard, and mentally, it's hard to get psyched about them, just as it's hard to get psyched about putting a plastic bag over your head and then running up a mountain as fast as you can. I staggered to the bathroom and stood there. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and it was an exact reflection of how I felt: tired, maybe even a bit haggard, eyes a bit sunken in, and not very motivated to do intervals. I stood there a bit longer, torn between the guilt of not wanting to train and wanting to climb back in bed. I walked to the closet to get dressed and picked up some Capilene. Then I walked back to the mirror and stood there again. Then I got back in bed and sent a text to my friends: "My sinus infection is worse. I'm not going out this morning. Sorry." And I went back to sleep.

Thursday (12/23), I was feeling better (although not completely healed) and had one of the best interval sessions of my life -- climbing, at times, at 80 feet per minute, and not feeling all that maxed out. I guess I was well rested. Psyched that I was feeling better, I pushed it hard on Friday (12/24). But after 4000 vertical, I felt something was off and shut it down. Too late though.

By Sunday (12/26), I had caught a new bug, and it was worse than the 3 or 4 bugs I have had in the last three weeks. I only know that because I have been knocked out, laid out, and feeling sorry for myself since then. It's been the full meal deal with aches, congestion, cough, etc.

And so, the wheels on the bus have officially fallen off. They rolled on down the road, and I'm left sitting here laying on my couch writing a blog about it.

Training is all about stretching the body's limits, forcing it to compensate and adjust. But when you stretch too much, like anything, the body will snap, and rebel, and get sick a lot. In hindsight, I should have taken a long rest after Canada and fully recuperated. Instead, being a bit too greedy and too obsessive, I thought I could push it and train through the sickness, and then get recuperated in the weeks leading up to the big race. And in doing so, I became a very effective human petri dish.


Ski Bike Junkie said...

Are you using a neti pot? I'm really prone to sinus infections but have all but eliminated them since I started using a neti pot whenever I get congested. I'd guess I would have lost three weeks of quality training this year to illness were it not for the neti pot. Disgusting? Yes. Effective? Absolutely.

Jonnie J said...

SBJ turned me onto the neti pot a couple of years ago. There is a great tutorial on Youtube on how to use Jack Daniels to clear out your sinuses. Just sayin.

Jared said...

I use the NeilMed system, which is like a Neti Pot, but a bit of pressure.

KDAY said...

Snap! there's nothing worse than getting sick while training. I know that exact feeling of guilt when you just can't bring yourself to get out even though you really want to. Even though you're going out to really suffer anyway. It's tough. Good luck and get lots of rest. Sounds like you're body is in need of some.

Anonymous said...

Less is more when you're sick. I remember way back when, when I used to nordic race, I got sick a week out or so from the Birkie, I panicked but hung it up for five days. Turns out that five days off was a perfect taper for the 50k race and I felt better than ever, and also gave my body time to rest and recover from the viral infection.

Athletes are so obsessive compulsive, they don't know when to rest. I'm now a firm believer in "less is more".

Maybe a 5 days stint on Zithromax would be worth your while.

Jared said...


That is encouraging. Thanks. Last week, I took some Zithromax. Strong stuff. I hate doing it, but I think it got rid of the infection.


Anonymous said...

Nothing wrong with knocking out the bug with the infrequent Z-pack prescription.

One has to wonder if our current air quality contributes to the inability to rid oneself of upper respiratory infections.

Good thing your training occurs above it all!