Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Being Sick and Cycling

Illness and I are not the best of friends. When I find myself feeling under the weather, I can definitely turn into a mess very quickly. The biggest issue for me is not the fact that I don't feel well, but more that I really dislike being stuck indoors, or worse yet, confined to bed. Not every round of being sick is confining, but when the long ones do occur, it really stinks and I find myself trying to keep up with all that would normally be happening instead of taking the time to rest. I gather up tissues, take some vitamin C, and attempt to keep up a pretense that everything is fine and it's just a "little sniffle."
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This is hitting close to home for me at the moment, and I have to say that spending time sitting around is definitely not my favorite use of time -- especially during the summer. Warm months are a commodity and one that I prefer to use to its fullest before it disappears and I'm left with cold and snowy days. To add to the current dissatisfaction with being ill, I have an annual ride coming up this weekend and I'm concerned that I both haven't had enough training time in the saddle and that I won't be well in time to participate.

It all started on Sunday and has become progressively worse with each passing day. Initially, I shrugged it off as allergies and didn't think much of it, but by Monday, it was definitely feeling more flu-like than something brought on by allergies. Tuesday I woke up and told myself that I had no choice but to get in a longer ride because I would need to back off during the few days prior to the ride, but I really was feeling horrible. Miraculously, I somehow completed the 50+ miles that I needed to get done, but I paid for it the rest of the day.
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Whether the ride I went on made things worse or not, I don't think that's something I can really know. From research I've done in the past, the professionals claim that if it's just a head cold (sniffles, etc), it's perfectly acceptable to continue exercising, as long as one listens to his/her body; however, if the person is running a fever or the illness is in the chest (like a cough), bed rest is the answer. I may have broken that rule (don't tell anyone), but I actually felt better riding my bike than I did sitting around. There's something about being stuck in a room that makes me feel worse and being able to be in some fresh air was amazing. I may have overdone things mileage-wise, but I survived... and so, I just have to hope I didn't do more damage than good and prepare as though Saturday is still "on."

Now, I'm sucking down Emergen-C and taking other various items in an attempt to get this to move on quicker. It's amazing how many home remedies are out there, and how many products companies attempt to sell us that will supposedly help us heal quicker. I can't help but wonder if any of it really works. Of course, there are those who insist that Zinc, Vitamin C and/or Airborne are the trick to getting over an illness faster. They may be right, but I've generally not had a lot of luck with anything actually working other than rest and letting the cold or flu run its course. I have realized that we really (as a whole) don't want to rest and instead try to fight our way through sickness, believing that we are somehow capable of continuing on when our bodies are telling us a different story.
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Not only do I seem to crave the most horribly awful foods when I have a cold or flu, but I always seem to want large quantities of them. In more specific terms, I find myself desperately wanting simple carbs drenched in fat - like french toast with butter and syrup or fried cheese quesadillas. While I realize that more balanced meals provide the nutrients our bodies need to recover, I never cease to be amazed at the cravings that come on with being sick.

What have your experiences been with illness and continuing an exercise plan, or specifically in regard to cycling? Do you opt for bed rest, or do you try to fight your way through it? Do you have any specific food cravings or items that seem to help you recover quicker?

6 comments:

  1. If it's just a cold, I don't really change my normal routine. My problem is that I tend to go into denial. I did this last spring when I had a really painful sore throat. "It's just a cold" I told myself. "It'll go away on it's own" I said. Only when my temperature shot up did I finally admit something was wrong. Turned out I had strep throat and an ear infection. The really bad thing is that even when I knew what was wrong I didn't give myself long enough to recover and ended up with a second round of strep. Ugh.

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    1. Yikes! That can be scary. I try not to be super stubborn about being sick, but sometimes it definitely takes a bit to force me into a doctors office. I am really bad about giving myself enough time to recover as well - it's a tough thing when there's so much to get done in a day.

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  2. I've done the sinus rinses daily (yuck, I know) for more than 10 years, and the number of colds I get has plummeted compared to before. I still get the usual one or two per year, but that's better than one after the other.

    Plus, at the slightest hint of a cold, I take something with Vitamin C and Zinc, like Airborne, to bolster my system. Seems to help.

    I do have to forgo the bike rides for a few days if my chest gets irritated. I hate that, because I have to regain my conditioning if I miss more than a day or two.

    Hope you feel better soon!

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    1. I think that's the biggest issue... I seem to wait too long and then it's too late. Unfortunately, it seems that every cold I've experienced over the last few years has gone to my chest, creating a never-ending cough (which is what I fear with this round). Hopefully, it will end quickly though. :O)

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  3. When I have a cold, I feel better when I can exercise; it clears the sinuses, if only for the moments I'm outdoors, walking or riding. If a fever is involved I stay indoors and rest or retreat to our deck where at least I'm not spreading my germs. I read or watch movies, if I feel up to it. Definitely rest is the key here and lots of fluids. I don't have any cravings, fortunately. But getting back to colds: I'm beginning to swear by Cold-eze to shorten colds. Lost bout was only 3 days!

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    1. I've had some other people tell me that they really like Cold-Eeze as well. It's nice to know that it works for you. Anything that shortens a cold is great!

      This round started as just a cold, which was fine and I didn't mind still being active, but it has traveled into my lungs, which really isn't fun. Just walking from one room to the next or outside seems to take all of my energy, and breathing capabilities are strained.

      The ride I'm participating in is tomorrow, so I'll see how today wraps up, but I'm hoping that with all of the water, juice, and various cold-related med cocktails, I'll be well enough to get it done. We shall see. I'm not going to force something that I'm just not ready to do.

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