It’s been an odd year.
Even though that phrase only covers 12 days so far, a really most strange year.It’s begun with an illness, which is fairly abnormal for me. Ever since I started running, my sick days have generally been after a long night at the pub, or the occasional cold which I soldiered through. Running has really raised my tolerance to bugs, infections, minor ailments and even depression. This time however, a nasty bout of flu hit me straight between the eyes. Or maybe nostrils is a better way to put it.
Yes, it’s the old flu. This is definitely something most people are or have experienced- going back to work after some lovely days off work quite naturally raises the stress levels and makes us more prone to disease. I was one of those affected (or infected?!), by my grandmother who then said ‘she hadn’t been this ill since 1943’. Thanks Nan.
Illness also raised the age old question ‘when am I too ill to run?’ As personal a question as this is, everyone has a limit, and even a runner is breakable. Let me start by saying there is absolutely no point in someone dragging themselves out of bed spluttering and sneezing just to do a few miserable laps around the field. General running advice dictates that, when sickness hits (by this I mean flu- colds are part and parcel of running in winter for me), it’s time to hide under a duvet and wait for the body to do its job. Sounds sensible. Did I do this? Of course not.
On the 1st January, starting as I meant to go on, I left the house for a 5k. I was already feeling a little bit of scratching behind my tonsils, a rising temperature and lack of appetite, but I was ready to compensate for missing a parkrun earlier on in the day. I headed out well, but after a mile and a half, I stopped. Physically stopped. I was wheezing, sweating unnaturally, just generally feeling out of my comfort zone. I walked a little, then jogged on. It was a miserable experience for me, and although I got back home feeling a little bit better for showing motivation and going out there, I wasn’t very convinced it did me any good.
The next morning was like a scene from a war movie in which the whole platoon contract malaria or typhoid fever and there’s not enough medicine for all of them. Young G.I’s crying for their mothers, the heroic, stoic types lying apart with sweat glistening on their chests. I woke up aching, a real temperature going through me, and wheezing like no tomorrow. I was tired (rare), not hungry (very rare) and my tonsils felt as though they’d turned into chainsaws. A dry, hacking cough reverberated through my whole skeleton. The prognosis on the NHS website was clear: man flu. And don’t bother a GP with it.
As I lay dying, I imagined the things I’d never do in 2015. The comeback I’d planned for fast 10k races. The regularity with which I would pursue my training. The added core training that was going to make me stronger. The hunt for large hills to run up and improve my cardio on. They were all beautiful, faded dreams now. In the next three days, drinking only water and tea, many things went through my mind. Not all of them in a clear order, not all of them clearly logical. On the fourth day, I dreamed of perfect trainers. On the fifth day, I arose.
I was still feeling quite weak, so I lay back down again. But on the sixth day, I felt okay, so I got up and went for a short walk. Clearly I’d been spared by the gods to carry on with my training and raise it to a whole new degree of whoopass. Rio 2016 is not far away, and my training needs a few…erm…adjustments to make sure I win some medals. It is time to start making those dreams a reality, they seemed to say.
(On a serious note, I don’t think anything makes us realise the worth of something except when we have it taken away from us. Not having run for 11 days now is making me literally itch with anticipation).
If there is ONE good thing to take from this experience, I have lost such an immense amount of weight that I’m sure I’ll be flying once I get running again. Christmas is always a heavy foodie experience for me, so I’m glad I actually managed to get the bulk of the weight off relatively painlessly. Not that I would recommend getting man flu to do so. But weight is one of the core targets I identified as needing work on, and I have a concrete, realistic, and healthy plan to achieve my goals through monitoring and observing a healthy diet.
I’d signed up for Jantastic hoping I’d run a mile every day at the very least. This hasn’t materialised, and I’m really not happy about it. If I had an injury, I would have no problems running on it, but the flu really got to me as a whole. I’m now modifying my targets for February, hoping to use the motivation from others to keep me carrying on. Tomorrow is my first day back in training, so I’ll assess the damage and hope for the best. My only worry is that my lungs may be weaker from the flu, but I just need to hope for the best and believe it’s not going to be so bad.
Meanwhile, keep an eye out for Emelia Gorecka. That is great future British talent right there.
Anyway, I wish you folks a great year of running and active lifestyle, no matter what. It gets better every year, or so I’ve heard. Take care yo x x