Easing back into the gym

After almost three weeks of no exercise I finally made it back to the gym this morning. I still have a slight cough but it’s so much more bearable. I can finally walk about the grocery store without coughing so hard I’m on the verge of vomiting. Small victories!

Since I’ve taken so much time off the way I work out is drastically different than it was before I got sick. I can’t just jump in and pretend that my fitness levels are where they were, so here’s my plan:

  1. Lighter weights: even though I significantly decreased the amount of weight I lifted this morning I still felt extremely weak. I wanted to make sure that above all else, my form was strong. I’m fairly confident the amount of weight I can lift will go back to normal pretty quickly but the last thing I want is to injure myself and be forced to take time off again.
  2. Less cardio: since I still have a little cough I’m monitoring my cardio closely. This morning I cycled and walked on the treadmill, and I’m going to start doing my scheduled marathon training runs in order from easiest to most difficult this week so I can really gauge how my body will handle running. Technically I should be running a 14.5K long run this week, but if I can only manage 10 or even 8 kilometers that is what I will limit myself to.
  3. Eat well: I’m not going to deny it, I am counting calories and back on my diet, but I carefully chose what I’m eating this week. Smoothies full of vitamin C, hearty sandwiches, lean proteins, and lots of fruit and vegetables. I’m also not cutting too many calories because food will be essential to how my muscles repair themselves this week.
  4. Rest: I’m going to turn off Netflix earlier, read more, and get into bed on time. Also, if I wake up to my alarm and I truly feel like I should sleep longer, I will sleep longer.
  5. Mobility: Stretching, foam rolling, yoga. Between lifting and trying to run again I am going to be sore. I know this. So I need to combat the inevitable as much as possible.
  6. Hydrate: I know one of the biggest rules of being sick is to drink lots of clear fluids. I did alright with this but the last three weeks I was nowhere close to how hydrated I usually am. This week I’m back to using my FitBit app to track my water intake, and I’m aiming for that gallon again.
  7. Supplements: I’m going to try to remember to take my two usual supplements daily (Vitamin D and Omega-3s) but I also am testing out Oil of Oregano. Lots of people swear by this and I figure it can’t hurt to try it out.

Day 15

Today is Day 15 of whatever bug I decided to catch this winter. It started while I was on vacation in Punta Cana with the typical symptoms I associate with the flu (fatigued, achy), and then a couple of days later I ended up with a cough, congestion, lack of appetite, fever, and way more mucus than I’ve ever produced, then the cough went away and I was left with what felt like an overly mucusy sinus infection, and then the cough came back. I saw my doctor when I came back from vacation and she said it likely started as influenza that I contracted on the plane ride down and has morphed into another viral infection.

Now, on Day 15 I’m mostly better but I still can’t shake this cough. I’m waking up in the middle of the night having coughing fits and having to reach for my inhaler. For lack of a better phrase… it really sucks. I want to run. I want to lift weights. I want to bake. I want to sleep through the night. I’m not sure what’s left to do but to keep resting and taking in liquids.

Part of me is kicking myself for not getting a flu shot this year, but the other part of me feels like there wasn’t much I could do to avoid it. According to some news articles I’ve been reading, this is the worse flu outbreak since 2009 when everyone was trying to protect themselves from H1N1, and our flu shot this year was something like only 10% effective (please don’t quote me on this).

So, for now, marathon training is on hiatus. It’s really difficult to watch the days pass by with my mileage having not been reached, but I know it’s for the best. I want to be in the best marathon shape possible, and I can’t do it if I don’t let myself completely heal. I’m also trying to remind myself that not running the marathon at the end of May is not the end of the world – in fact, I could easily drop down and run the half distance if I’m determined to race.