Ill Will

I’ve run my 20-miler. I’ve finished my final track workout. I’ve bought my train ticket, booked my hotel room and selected my outfit for the Philadelphia marathon. Only one more thing to check off my list before the big morning just 10 days away: catch a debilitating head cold.


That’s right, folks. With less than two weeks to go, I woke up Monday morning to clogged sinuses, plugged ears, a pounding headache and a throat so red it would have made Stalin blush. Of course, I shouldn’t have been surprised: If history tells me anything, it’s that my immune system always gives up, without fail, the second I start tapering. It happened in 2012. It happened in 2013. And here we are in 2014, and I’m singlehandedly keeping the Sudafed family in business.

And the dog photography business.
I’m also keeping this model in business.

It’s downright miserable sitting at home feeling sick, but in terms of timing, I have to admit it couldn’t be better. No one is great at tapering – or paring back mileage to rest up for race day – and far too many runners push too hard in the final leg of training with mistaken hopes that they’ll be able to make up for lost time by logging a few extra workouts. Very little actual fitness is gained in the final few weeks of a marathon training program, and pushing too hard during the final countdown can leave you sluggish or worse, injured, when it comes time to lace up.

Luckily, there’s zero percent chance of that happening to me. You know why? Because all the things you’re supposed to do to taper are exactly the things you to do to treat a cold. For example to treat a cold you:

  • Take it easy. Done and done. I’ve run just three of the 28 miles I was supposed to log this week, which in and of itself is impressive considering I didn’t leave the apartment for a 48-hour block.
  • Fuel your healing body with nutrient-rich foods. From orange juice to chicken noodle soup, the foodstuff entering my system has been nothing but gold.
  • Avoid alcohol. Easy, unless you count the Robitussin I’ve been downing by the plastic dosing cup-full.

So there you have it. Although I’m achy and cold and all around miserable, I’m trying to appreciate the fact that this cold came at the best possible time in the scheme of things. If this thing persists into next week, I’ll start to get worried but assuming I keep taking care of myself in the days ahead, I should still be in working order come race day. And boy, will my legs be rested.

How is your taper going?


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