Run Down Runner

If I were to compile my most-searched phrases on Google, it would probably look a little something like this:

  • Weather at 6 a.m. in Queens tomorrow
  • Crockpot meals that can cook for 12+ hours because who honestly is only gone from home for 7-8 hours a day?
  • Photos of sheep in sweaters

And, of course, my undisputed No. 1 search term:

  • Can I still go for a run when I’m sick?

I probably search that last item at least once a month, even though I already know the consensus internet response by heart: “If it’s above your neck, run. If it’s below your neck, stay home.”

What that means in layman’s terms is a stuffy nose or some sinus pressure shouldn’t be enough to keep a runner inside. Of course, dial back your exertion levels, keep hydrated and stop if you feel woozy, but in general, a little head cold shouldn’t sideline a runner for long.

If it’s below the neck though, that’s where the advice seems to change. When it’s on the lower part of your body — stomach pains, bronchitis, organ failure — that’s where you’re supposed to draw the line and focus on getting well instead. (Note: I never know if a sore throat counts as below or above the neck. Do you know? This question is an especially poignant one for giraffes, I’m sure.)

Fortunately for me, 95% of the time I’m questioning whether I’m too sick to run, I’m actually not — I’m just stuffed up and looking for an internet-sanctioned excuse to stay in bed. But not this month. A little whining ahead, so I apologize in advance, but I’VE BEEN SICK FOR SO DAMN LONG! Seriously. I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.

  1. First, I came down with a violent stomach flu just two days after returning from my honeymoon (THAT’s one way to lose the wedding weight!)
  2. As soon as I got over that, I came down with heavy chest congestion and a gross productive cough
  3. After 10 days of that, I now have a suffocating tightness in my lungs where I feel like I can’t catch my breath. I finally saw a doctor, who put me on a steroid inhaler and told me, much like the internet did, no running until I feel well. And she said that might be weeks. Weeks!

Normally, doctor’s orders to stay still might be a welcome opportunity to catch up on sleep (or Sherlock…), but the timing couldn’t be worse: I’m less than two months out from the New York City Half Marathon, which I HAD hoped I’d race and maybe even log a new PR. It’s such an inspiring race, looping Central Park, cutting through Times Square and ending by Wall Street, and I’d pictured myself doing track workouts and hill repeats to prepare. Now the only repeats I’m doing are to and from the medicine cabinet at work. (If only that were the only sentence you had to read about cabinets today! #politicsjokes)

Still, I’m trying to make the best of it. Even though I’ve been instructed not to run, I’m trying to keep at least the tiniest bit active, attending a weekly yoga class and still showing up to casual league volleyball to embarrass myself publicly. But it’s not enough, and I feel my muscle mass — and PR dreams — dissipating before my eyes.

I joke, but I’m actually pretty down about it.

But at least I know what to google when I’m down:

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How are you surviving the cruelest health season?

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One Response to Run Down Runner

  1. Sorry to hear about your illness. I was out for 5-6 months last year with bronchitis, so I totally feel ya. I did the United NYC Half last year with bronchitis. I had hoped to PR, but obviously I couldn’t, so I just did it as a “do your best” run. Feel better soon.

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