Wednesday, May 26, 2010

suckage! sickness v. exercise

well, i've been a bit under the weather lately. i apparently picked up some bug that has turned out to be of some virulent variety. it's taken me completely out of the game.

i've written previous posts about the issues of exercise and illness before (reference: overtraining while sick and exercise and immunity). but those times i dealt with excessive exercise causing or promoting sickness. i don't think that was the case this time, since my training load wasn't really that heavy. i just happened to get some disease in the course of ordinary life (very likely, given the amount of people i deal with every day). as a result, while the prior posts dealt with the question of what to do with training to prevent becoming sick, this post deals with the question of what to do with training given that i already am sick...something that i think everyone has to deal with in the course of following a fitness lifestyle.

originally i thought this was just a minor cold (symptoms at the start were just a sore throat and light fever) and would blow over in just a few days. i go through this several times a year, and i thought this time was no different.

unfortunately, this time was different. it didn't blow over in a few days, but instead has persisted for the better part of what is now coming up on 2 weeks (10 days so far, and still persistent). the symptoms also got worse, proceeding to a full-blown onslaught of fever, headaches, chills, spontaneous sweating, constant fatigue, wheezing, and coughing--and i don't want to describe what i was coughing up, other than to say it was green and blue and there was a lot of it. the worst of it seems to be past, with this past weekend being the rock-bottom in terms of how i was feeling (pretty much all i did was sleep...even driving to the store for food exhausted me for the rest of the day). still, it's not gone completely away, and the symptoms are still around. whatever this is, it's not a cold.

usually, with a cold, i'm able to just suck things up and keep training. i'll take a little more rest, allot more time for recovery, and also cut back on the intensity and duration of workouts, but i still make an effort to do my workouts. not because i have to, but more because i just don't want to lose my base of fitness (which is something most athletes share as their major concern anytime an illness rolls around).

this time, however, things were bad enough that i decided discretion was the better part of valor, and canceled all my workouts. yeah, i know it'll erode my fitness, but i figured that with the way i was feeling that training would only exacerbate the recovery process and only deepen the symptoms. that, and my fatigue was so bad i could barely get out of bed to take a shower.

did i do the right thing? who knows. it's a personal judgment call. and a lot of it was subjective. i know plenty of athletes who keep training and competing while they're sick, even through cases of things like flu, bronchitis, etc. that would knock most ordinary people off their feet and into a hospital. but right now, i don't have any pressing needs to perform physically, and i just want this damn disease to be over with.

i'm feeling better now, enough to see if there were some medical guidelines that might offer some help in determining when and to what extent training and competition should be curtailed. i came across some useful links that offer a sports medicine perspective:
the first one i found to be the most useful. i don't know much about the American Athletic Institute, or the sports and medicine science it uses, but what they say makes perfect sense to me. i don't think i had the flu, but based on what they're saying maybe i did (do) have some bacteriological infection--i've been told there's an outbreak of strep throat in Southern California, so it's very possible (strep throat is caused by the streptococcus bacteria). in which case, it would certainly explain the length of time of this sickness.

it also suggests that i probably did the right thing to just stay home and rest...according to what they're saying, bacterial infections require complete cessation of exercise, since continued physical activity can extend strep throat into something worse, like sinusitis and bronchitis (at which point, it's not that big a step to something really bad, like pneumonia).

of course, it's no fun staying at home in bed with a fever and cough and sweating and smelling like the universe's filth pit. and it's no fun being tired all the time. especially when i feel like i should be out and about and active and doing something. especially since it's been ridiculously beautiful weather lately (and it has: average temps ~70 degrees F, bright sunshine). FML. but i guess it's better to stop things from getting any worse and to let my body just get healthy.

and the sooner that happens, the better.

because right now, this is just nothing but SUCKAGE.

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