Exactly a week ago I posted on ways to prevent and get rid of colds, and then this past Wednesday BOOM the flu hit me. Oy vey.
This got me thinking. The last time I had the flu, I was training for my marathon. It was a month before the race, and I was completely out of training for a week. When I got back into it, I had to cut back my mileage significantly, causing me to be super paranoid since I had only gotten up to 16 miles and had 26.2 to run. Well if you read my post about it, you’ll find out I survived, but a huge concern I had was: how much would not running for a week affect the endurance I had built up during my long-term race training?
After doing some research, here’s what I found…
Exactly how long it takes to lose your fitness level will depend on different factors: fitness level, age, genetics, etc. However, the longer you’ve spent training and being active, the slower you will lose your endurance or strength, making it easier to get back into the swing of things. Unfortunately, the longer you’re sick, the longer it may take for you to get back to your normal workout routine. If you push yourself too hard, too fast, your body might not be ready yet, and you can end up weakening your immune system further, keeping you from getting back to your normal, healthy self and making you vulnerable to more illness. Basically, it’s better to ease back into things.
While you may not be able to push yourself very hard, that doesn’t mean you have to sit around, cursing the day your sickness was born. By doing smaller, light workouts, you can maintain your fitness level, or at least prevent much of your endurance/strength from disappearing. Just make sure if you do start exercising towards the end of your cold/flu, your symptoms are above the neck (sore throat, congested, etc.) and not below (coughing, achy body, fever) as this can just prolong/worsen your sickness.
In the end, a week or two, or even a month, off of working out isn’t going to put you back at square one. Just know this: it takes longer to lose your fitness level than it took to gain it in the first place. While the specifics of getting out of shape will vary on the person, chances are you’ll still have the potential that you had before; it just might take some more time to get back up to it.
Has anyone else gotten sick during prime race training time?