Training plans are a wonderful tool. They take the knowledge of great coach and make it available to the masses. The down side is that people often feel they have to follow the plans to the letter, and if they can’t, they are sure they are doomed to failure. It is rare that someone embarks on a 16 or 18 weeks plan and sees it through without a hiccup. The reality is that life usually butts in at some point, throwing off the schedule, making us miss runs, and consequently undermining our confidence.
This has been one of those weeks for me. I was feeling run down from a weekend of too much fun, with late nights and a bit more drinking than usual, but I wasn’t too worried. Usually a nice easy 3 miler will clear away the sluggish overwrought feelings and clear up minor head colds, but not always, it can also bring things to an ugly head. I had started with a bit of a cough on Thursday evening, but wrote it off an typical allergies and post nasal drip. Unfortunately, following my 3 mile run, I was coughing up some scary stuff and through the course of the day I felt worse and worse with each passing hour. By Tuesday morning I was feeling horrible and went to the clinic. Sadly, doctors that do not know us do not always have confidence in our personal assessments so my knowing I had an infection fell on deaf ears. I was given the usual gamut of over the counter medications and sent home with instructions to come back if I was still sick the next week.
Chest colds are dangerous for people on Enbrel. One of the side effects of this RA drug is that it predisposes us to a deadly form of pneumonia so, needless to say, I was very concerned that this bronchitis would turn into pneumonia and knock me flat for weeks or months. Marathon training aside, this would put a serious crimp in my life and that of my family. If I were hospitalized and the doctors here decided they could not meet my medical needs, my daughter and I would be sent back to the States and my husband would have to finish out the rest of his 3 year commitment in Korea alone. My motivation to stay as healthy as possible is very high indeed! In addition to treating my illness I also have to stop taking Enbrel to allow my immune system to be as strong as possible; this sets me up for a whopper of an RA flare.
By Thursday, I was running a fever and far more sick so I went back to the clinic. This time I was listened too and given antibiotics, along with more decongestants. I appear to slowly be getting better, but it will be a week or two before I’m back on track. If this antibiotic isn’t strong enough, it will mean more weeks out, more time off my RA meds, and more time lost from marathon training.
At the moment I am still optimistic. Having just started training, I’m still within distances that I am very comfortable with so a week or two off won’t matter much. A month off would be a problem. If this illness had hit after week 10 or 12, it could possibly have meant canceling. I know that marathon training is not really important compared to pneumonia and all the complications that would go with it, but for a runner, losing that which keeps us positive and on track is frustrating and disabling. Only another athlete can understand that. The race itself is merely frosting, it is what I gain mentally and physically from the training that holds my life together. I’m going buggy laying around watching movies and sleeping between coughing fits.
As of Sunday morning, I’m nearly finished with my 5 day course of antibiotics and feeling somewhat more human. If this trend continues I will try going for a short run tomorrow and see how it goes. I’m a big believer in sweating out crud and breathing deeply to clear out the lungs so hopefully a nice easy run, followed by a good nap will do a world of good.
Week 3: one pitiful 3 mile run