The past month has been quite a struggle for me training-wise. First I accompanied my family on a two and a half week trip to visit relatives. I returned excited to begin my regular training schedule again only to be struck down by an upper respiratory infection a week later.
Now I had anticipated some of the struggle which is why I have only signed up for the Grand Rapids Marathon in the fall. I figured running would be a bit less to juggle than swimming, biking, and running. Although I had looked longingly at a few of the late summer triathlons, I am now glad that I was cautious and did not sign up for them.
At the beginning of August, my family drove to New England to visit family on Cape Cod and in Maine for two and a half weeks. I had brought my running shoes and my Y card. Since this was a family vacation, it was my hope that the family would not have to constantly work around my exercise schedule. I managed to fit in my 3 runs per week in addition to some Y time. Vacation exercise can be pretty fun with runs through new landscape and spin classes on bikes with power and cadence meters. It is always fun to check out the equipment at other gyms. I did feel like a bit of a slacker but I made it through vacation okay.
I arrived home rejuvenated and ready to get back to my regular exercise routine. That included a 20-mile run over the weekend. I will admit to some arrogance over training for the Grand Rapids Marathon. I had done plenty of 15-mile runs with little difficulty. I had done a half-iron triathlon. I figured that race took me around 2 hours longer than a marathon. You go to the starting line and run until they tell you to stop. How hard could it be?
Since I have been out of commission for the past 8 days, I think I have my answer. I finished my 20-mile run that Saturday and it hurt. My last few long runs have hurt. (And I mean really hurt to the point of it being difficult to walk immediately after.) So this was no surprise. Then three days later in the middle of my next run I noticed it was getting very hot out and I had a sudden loss of energy. This should have clued me in that something was wrong but I powered through blaming it on the heat. I ended up walking the last mile which I don’t think has happened to me during training in 3 years. When I got home I had a fever of 101 F.
Who knows why illness comes on? This has been one of the big advantages of being in better shape, I had figured. Ever since I started regularly exercising and lost weight, I have not been sick. And yet now I was sick. One marathoner/triathlete friend suggested that I had run myself down (literally) by not eating enough carbs during my long run. In my research, I also discovered during long runs your body produces additional steroids to heal your muscles. The increase in steroids leads to a decrease in immune functioning for an hour or two. My theory is that my immune system was compromised from the 20-mile run. I then went into the Y after the run where the germs pounced.
In any case, I now realize my training plan was probably too aggressive. I have developed a new respect for how difficult marathon-training is on the body. A realization that has hopefully come in a timely manner.
A few good things have come out of this though:
1. I haven’t been too hungry which I think has been balancing out all of the calories I am not burning,
2. I have caught up on my television watching,
3. I was lucky enough to do a great core workout right before I got sick. When I started coughing my abs hurt with every cough. So I figure coughing must be a good core workout? Right?