Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Forced Relaxation

There is nothing worse than that moment when you realize you are getting sick. I was sitting at my desk last Tuesday when I suddenly noticed my throat was a little scratchy. At that point, I thought it was still possible to fight it off. It wasn’t until that dreadful moment when I got the chills followed by an immediate hot flash that I knew I was in for it. I tried to remain aloof and act as though there was nothing wrong with me, but deep down I knew I was infected and there was nothing I could do about. I woke up the next morning, didn’t go running, which never happens, and drug myself to work. It was the most miserable hour of the day. I thought I was going to pass out on the train and I couldn’t concentrate on anything, so I decided it was better for me to just go home. On my way, I picked up some Nyquil and other vital drugs. I crawled into bed and stayed there the rest of the day.

That little flu bug had enough nerve and power to level me for almost 3 days. For the first time since I did the Ironman, I didn’t work out for almost a week. I was supposed to run 18 miles last Saturday, but that obviously didn’t happen. Instead, I did nothing. I laid around, slept, laid around some more and got more angry and frustrated by the minute. My whole training schedule upset, my weekend plans shot, my health… down the drain. I realized how grateful I was to have good health and wanted it back. This is what I call forced relaxation and humility. Perhaps I have been training a little too much. Perhaps the four hours of sleep I got the Friday night before followed by a 15 mile run in 30 degree weather was not the best idea. Perhaps the late nights, the early mornings, the messed up eating habits had finally taken their toll. Perhaps the training runs in the rain and over snow and ice had put my body over the edge and now it was rebelling and telling me it was time to take a serious break. And since I wasn’t going to do it voluntarily, it was going to make me do it.

The humility comes in when I realize I am not invincible. I get sick just like everyone else even if it does only happen once in a blue moon. And although I am capable of taking care of myself, I know there are times when I need to ask for help. Luckily all of my friends know me well enough to know that I won’t ask for help and that I will act like I am fine even when I feel like a swift death would be more merciful than lying around with an aching body infected with who knows what. But I am learning. I have so often taken my health and strength for granted. For about 360 days of the year I feel fantastic. I can run as far and as long as I want with relatively little pain. But for the first time in as long as I can remember, I didn’t run through the sickness. Normally, I get up anyway and force myself to run because I think that I am not that sick and the fresh air and endorphins will do me good. But I have a race in 6 weeks. I can’t afford to be sick for a month. I can’t even afford to be sick for a week, so I did nothing. I slept as much as I could, overloaded on Vitamin C, took nightly doses of Nyquil and Robitussin and prayed that I would get better quickly. Well, a week went by, the cough still lingered. And I decided that my resting period was over, so I ran. Not sure yet if that was detrimental but we will soon find out.

I don’t enjoy being sick, and I don’t know anyone who really does. However, I appreciate the forced rest and the reminder to be grateful for the good health I have when I have it. People will see you at your worst when you are sick, and if they can still love you when you have been in your pajamas for three days complaining non stop about not being able to run, coughing constantly and laying around the house doing nothing, then they are good friends indeed. I learned my lesson and now it’s time for this cough to leave. It has overstayed its welcome, and I am about to pack its bags and send it on its way.

1 comment:

Machu Picchu said...

nice post. right now i'm undergoing the forced relaxation of being sick too. it's maddening. but restful?