I read a couple of posts/tweets last week from fellow runners who were nursing colds yet planning to go out for their usual training run.
As I read them it took a fair bit of will power to stop myself replying to them berating them for putting their body through a training run when clearly they needed to rest. Surely they realised that their run would be slower than usual and their body would take longer than it usually would to recover from it? Surely they realised that by doing that run they would probably take longer to recover from the cold when really what they needed was rest?
Looking from the outside it seems obvious that people in this situation need to give themselves some rest. Not only will the recovery from the illness or injury be hampered but also they’ll go out and no doubt put in a terribly slow run and feel frustrated by how slow it is.
It’s easy to be objective when you’re looking at someone else’s situation though. Not so easy when it’s yourself. I knew I was coming down with a cold. I felt lousy and, as always happens about 12-24 hours before a cold or illness really hits me, my knees started aching. I told myself this was probably because of a run a few days previous and that actually it was just a sniffle that I could run off. I told myself that if I was about to get a cold it would be a really good idea to get a run in quickly before it got any worse and stopped me running. I even told myself that perhaps going for a run would help clear my lungs and get my blood pumping and help force out quicker whatever was about to try and get me. Those people on Twitter were idiots but their situation wasn’t the same as mine.
The rest is pretty inevitable. I went for a run, got about 5k in and then began to feel like someone had strapped lead weights to my legs and feet. I got home frustrated with my poor pace that I had run at. I felt annoyed with myself because I knew it had taken a lot out of me and now it would probably take longer than usual to recover from both the run and the impending cold and that would stop me from running for a few days.
Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t a proper flu or illness or injury. It was what some people disparagingly call man-flu. It was a cold. Not enough to stop me going about your daily business but definitely enough to stop me exerting myself over a 40-50 minute run anytime soon. Enough that, coupled with the recovery from the run I had just foolishly done, was enough to make my knees feel like they now had a vice attached to them each time I climbed a stair or step.
I’d like to think I’ve learnt a lesson from this mistake and hopefully writing about it like this will crystallise that learning in my mind. Like him or loathe him I think Jordan Peterson probably had this one right when he said “Treat yourself like someone you’re responsible for helping”. If I was responsible for helping myself I’d have pretty much read me the first half of this post. Next time I think about going for a run when I know I’m under the weather maybe I’ll tweet about it and then reply to myself with a link to this post, or maybe just direct the sort of vitriol towards myself I would towards anyone else who humbly brags about doing such a thing.