Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Training While Sick. Good idea?

Remember sick days as a child? Mom would call into the school secretary and you would spend the day holed up on the couch watching movies and eating soup. Funny how now as adults we don't take the same cues from our body and allow ourselves a day of rest. Most of our jobs or daily routines don't allow for it even.

But what about your training routine? What modifications (if any) should you make when plagued with illness. As I write this I am currently on day 6 of one of the nastiest colds I have been dealt in a long time. The fever has subsided only to be replaced by conjunctivitis in both eyes (pleasant I know). I am a member of the walking dead, drinking my weight in tea, and dosing on cold meds to stay afloat. Not exactly the shape I hoped to be in just a few short weeks away from a scheduled summit climb. It has been over a week since my feet hit the trail. My only exercise has been walking around Salt Lake City at a trade show over the weekend to keep up with coworkers as we made the trek from the hotel to the convention center. It hurts to read, talk, or generally stand for long periods of time. So what now?

A little internet scouring led me to discover a lot of different types of athletes saying pretty much the same thing. Whether you are a tri-athlete, a marathon runner, or bodybuilder, the general rule seems to be REST. Letting your body's immune system do its thing is the best thing you can do for your body and training. One quote from Dr. Stephen Cheung on the Pez Cycling site really sums it up: "it’s always better to be under-trained and healthy than over-trained but sick!"

Another general guideline that came up was to follow the "neck rule." If the symptoms are primarily above the neck, i.e. nasal congestion then it's okay to train. If symptoms reside below the neck such as fever, body aches, chest congestion, or stomach problems, it's best to take time off to recover.

The main thing is to not let some time off for illness discourage you from reaching your goals. Trust the base you have built with your pre-illness training, and use this time to do other things to prepare for your climb. Scour a climbing guide for info on the route, read trip reports online, or shop for the latest gear!

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