How are you feeling? Is your office a breeding ground for the latest round of colds or the flu? If youare around other people that can potentially pass the latest bug around, here is a little info on "Flu Season Etiquette: What you need to know about and the office". It talks about cleaning, disinfecting surfaces, staying out of the office kitchen, STAYING HOME when you're sick, etc.
If you ARE sick and in the middle of training for an event (and when AREN'T we training for something?!) then you need to adjust. Getting well is the first priority. The longer you take to get over a cold or the flu or whatever, the longer you will perform below your capabilities. I know I hear the argument that we aren't professional athletes, that we do this for fun, and we need to get healthy before we start back at it. While all that is true, having someone tell us to stop what we love to do and what we are passionate about can be hard to accept.The truth is that training when we are sick is usually ineffective, delays our full recovery, and is actually more of a setback than if we took an extra day, a few days, or a week or more off.
When you come back after being sick, minor adjustments to the training plan need to be made so we can ease back into it without too much concern. Backing off the intensity, shortening the overall workout, allowing for more rest, or putting in an extra recovery day are all possible adjustments. One thing you do NOT what to do is go back and try to make up workouts I missed.
As a coach I need to make adjustments, sometimes little tweeks and sometimes significant changes, to accommodate these bumps in the road. If you don't have a coach then it's up to you to make these adjustments yourself. The thing to remember above all is to LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.
Generally speaking, my rough recommendations for coming back after illness:
• Take 1 extra day more than you think you need to. Don't start back too soon so that you have a setback of additional days because you try to push it. Sometimes it's good to start back with a short, easy run or bike, or even with a short strength training session. These can be shorter trainings and it's easy to quit early if you discover you're not really ready.
• If you're out for about 3, maybe 4 days, you can probably jump right back into the plan. Add extra warm up and slightly scale back on the main part of the training for a day or 2 to balance it out so it’s about the same duration. Do NOT try to make up missed workouts or do extra. That’s a good way to invite back your illness (or a new one) and set you back further.
• If you're out for closer to a week or so then training should be adjusted for the first week back. Typically you scale things back some percentage in order to get you back on track.
• Being out beyond a week gets trickier and will possibly/probably require some additional modification, not only of the week that’s in your plan when you start back into training but also the succeeding weeks. It depends on many factors, including how far away race day is, how much volume you were doing before you got sick, if the illness still lingers, and so on.
The shorter the illness the easier it is to make adjustments and get back into training once you’re better. The longer you are away the more adjustment and modifications need to be made in order to get you back on track without relapse or injury.
Train smart, have FUN! And be healthy!