Illness and long runs – the good, the bad and the ugly


I am yet to make it through a round of marathon training without getting sick and being derailed for at least 4-5 days.
Whether this is due to the fact that my marathon training is done over winter, and you’re just more likely to get sick then, or that pushing my body too hard makes me run down, it just always happens and I have to work around it.

As you can tell from my last post this illness hit 5 weeks out from the marathon.
Despite my best bargaining with the gods nothing helped – after that last post I got home from work so exhausted I could barely undress myself, so needless to say the next few days were spent being a grump and resting some more.
It was a very chunky sounding cough; impossible to run with and causing me to wake up during the night. At its worst I had to sleep almost upright, propped up on pillows so that I could breathe.
I knew that I wasn’t close enough to the race to totally freak out, but the illness was long enough in duration to start to really worry me.
In the end I was off the trails for 10 whole days.
I was patient as a nun however (ahem), and after a brief scuffle with the less logical side of my brain I put myself into shutdown mode.
Lots of green smoothies, hot drinks like green tea, lemsip, herbal tea etc, and boosters of vitamin B&C. I am not always that great at taking my gross multivital tonic but I took it religiously this week. I slept, I relaxed, I had a medicinal whisky or three. The usual.
And yes, I really did panic for a bit there, but I reassured myself that I was unlikely to lose much fitness in this short period of time, so I concentrated on getting better.
After those 10 days I ventured back out with a tentative easy run, rugged up so that I was practically sweating before I even took a step, I found things were not too bad.
Sure, I still coughed on the harder bits, and I couldn’t do any hill work because of it, even later that week, but my legs still felt strong and my heart rate was back to normal.

back-babyOoh yeah!

By the way, this article is a great resource if you ever get sick during a training cycle. It’s reasonable and realistic, and it calmed my fears. More importantly, the advice turned out to be spot on. When you’re working your hardest to get every bit of quality out of your runs the last thing you want is not to be able to run at all. But it’s not the end of the world. Yes it was hard to get back into it, and yes, my next long run sucked, but I did manage it. And within a week or so I was almost back to normal.

various runs

From left, Photo 1: I was sick here but didn’t know it. That sheen of sweat you can see should have been my first sign things were wrong.  It was about 12 degrees, I should NOT have been sweating. I lasted 9.5km instead of 21…
Photo 2: My first long run back after 10 days of no running. I was worried. I was right to be worried. This was a hard run.
Photo 3 – this is my ‘I am OVER it’ face. I was so worried I would have a repeat of the previous week. But then the run was really good. Just shows, you never can tell.

All in all, it could have been worse. I have been sick 3 weeks out from a marathon before, and that IS the worst. You miss the last possible window of training plus you aren’t really recovered in time for the race.
Because I had 10 full days off, by the time I was better I was ITCHING to get back out there. So although I had a big break I have missed that usual massive slump in motivation you get around the last third of training. I am full of enthusiasm and have been for the past two weeks. And now there are only 3 weeks to go!

I must say, illness aside, this has been a wonderful training cycle.

Sydney run

I managed to run in Sydney…


With lots of friends up at Perisher – the NSW snowfields (the friends are the ones on the left, not the right!)

Warburton trail

And down at Warburton Rail Trail (that face is my ‘oh shit there’s a LOT of rain coming on the radar and I still have 32km to go’ face)

No niggles or injuries (touch wood), some beautifully different running destinations and I am hitting some really good times in my shorter runs, my hillier runs and my long runs.
I am very excited to see what I can do come June 25th.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *