Ack…ack…ack. Cough…sneeze…achoo. You hear it and if you’re like me there is a tiny little part of your braining saying, “Alert…someone’s sick on the premises.” Is that really lame of me?
If so, I don’t care. It’s funny because when I was little I would actually *hope* I’d get sick so I could stay home from school (though I usually was regretting it when I was slumped over the porcelain god and hacking up phlegm) but today I look to illnesses like the plague. Anything that hampers my ability to do my ‘full’ workout is no friend of mine!
I hope my fellow fitness-a-holics can relate and not judge me too harshly over the next few sentences. When you’re living with a person who is ‘infected’ what do you do? Personally, I discreetly do what I can to keep my distance. If it’s family it’s easy because they would understand and they are like me and respectful to do what they can to hunker down and not get others sick.
But with roommates, or even just people you are working in tight quarters with, you have to be a little more respectful. I guess offering them a face-mask wouldn’t be too nice…even if I made it one of those nifty, tricked out, decorated SARS-esque ones? No, guess not.
This happened recently, when one of my housemates and REALLY good friends was sick. So I thought it worthwhile to highlight a little on ways to avoid getting sick; germies are even more ‘dangerous’ to those with an actual race or event they are gearing towards. The worst thing that could happen would be putting in ALL that work and then wind up with the flu the week of the race!
* Close-talker say what? Some people are generally close talkers, but even if they aren’t, I’ve been known to do the ‘slow step-back shuffle’ where during the course of the conversation you gradually increase the space between you.
* Wipe and wash. By nature I am pretty OCD about washing my hands if I’m going to be putting something into my mouth; but not everyone is and it’s easy to mindlessly grab a treat from a candy bowl and pop it in. Not only do you need to remember where your own hands have been, but where others’ have too. PS-did you know that touching your eye with dirty hands is just about as germy-hazardous? Not that we all go fishing on our eyeballs, but people with contacts should take note.
* Sleeps and Snores. We can’t control what others are going to do, we can hope and appreciate when they sort of stay in their rooms while they recoup depending on how bad the sickness (mine thankfully did!) but we can get proactive on our parts. Sleep is one of the biggest components that is so overlooked in training and by anyone; skimping on the zzzz’s will not only hamper your recovery but this is also the time when your body is restoring all aspects. Skating by with not enough sleep while working out will weaken the immune system.
* Noshes and habits. By already being worker-outers we cut our chances of getting sick in general (20% fewer colds says The University of South Carolina) but apply this healthy habit to your eating too. While I always say that thanks to all the running we do we get the luxury of having more indulgences, (which we DO…thank u pint of B+J’s Half Baked last night!) but that should be on top of an already healthy diet. Fruits and veggies are jam-packed with plenty of disease-fighting antioxidants. (That fun little 20% factoid comes to you from the latest issue of Runner’s World where there is a full-article worth a read as it helped remind me of some very key points!! So check that out. )
* Stress and cortisol. Cortisol is an evil little hormone…no, I know it has it’s place but it gets eleveated when we are stressed AND after hard races and workouts. (Actually, this guy is one reason why you don’t want to have to ‘talk yourself up’ for big races too many times; it takes it out of you every time you do that; do that too much and you will be flat by the end of the season.) What it also does is put your immune system in a weakened state; so if you’ve already done a hard workout or race be extra diligent in your recovery. As for stress…that’s hard to avoid but what I’ve tried to do is if something is actually out of my control, I try to just accept that; do whatever I can to hopefully sway the outcome but from there push it out of my mind.
* Take it outside. Not fun fact…gyms are one of THE most germ riddled places around, no joke. And think about how many things you touch there and lie on top of. This is a time when maybe bypassing the gym and running outside would be a good idea; but c’mon almost all of us go to gyms so be SURE to wash your hands and take a shower right after you do.
Finally if you DO wind up sick, know how to smartly adjust. If it’s just strictly head-cold, (disclaimer, I’m not an actual doctor, this is personal opinion here!) I would say it’s okay to run/workout if you feel up to it. Somtimes that actually helps break the junk up; but also go in knowing that your energy may not be up to par. So if you’ve got a hard workout planned maybe push it off or go in knowing it may need to be adapted.
If it’s a cold that’s more severe and you feel it in your whole body you need to weigh the negatives vs. the positives. I call this the rule of: neck-and-above = okay to go, below the neck = maybe not a go…wow, I’m so medical here. Totally tapping yourself out when you are really sick will only prolong things and in the end you’ll miss more training. That said, if you’re full on prone on the bathroom floor the decision may have been already made for you.
Here’s to not getting sick runner friends!!
1) What do you do to avoid getting sick?
2) Is it the same for you that whenever you think you may be getting sick the first thing that you think about is how it will effect your running or working out?
3) It’s Friday!! What are you up to this weekend??