About once or twice a year my body comes to a halt and forces me into a sick day. While yesterday was a sick day for me, a better perspective is to think of it a recovery-minded day.
Here's what I do to get up and running again faster:
- Sleep is really the easiest medicine and best preventative tool. Ariana Huffington's book "The Sleep Revolution" gathers all the obvious and not-so-obvious reasons we should prioritize sleep, but I've also seen sleep affect my running performance.
- Rest is different than just sleep and includes resisting the urge to binge watch the latest Netflix series. When my body is sick, all of my senses need a break.
- Hydrate purposely. Water should come first but vitamins and electrolytes are also necessary for a fast cure. I alternate every third or fourth bottle of water with a tablet of nuun. (My bkr bottle rarely leaves my side.) Hydration also means avoiding caffeine and alcohol.
- Medicate when necessary* but otherwise on a limited basis. Ibuprofen typically works better for me than aspirin, but I only reach for the medicine if the pain is too bad to fall asleep without it. (*Absolutely medicate and see a doctor if you have a fever or worse symptoms!)
- Eat what your stomach can handle. The simplest and safest policy is the BRAT diet: bananas, rice, applesauce, toast. Once your body can handle any of those four, slowly move on to real food. I'm not usually very hungry when I'm sick but food is necessary fuel to help my body rebuild.
- Clean your home and yourself. In between napping, I find that taking a shower and tidying up always helps me to feel better. While it's tempting to just wallow all day, the image of health can go a long way toward recreating health.
- Go out even for just a little bit. Fresh air and a change of scenery are a great reset. If I've been sick all day, it helps me to run a quick errand in the evening or go out for a light dinner.
When I get to feeling better, the hardest thing is to hold back and ease back into training. After sleeping most of the day, I felt more ready than ever to run last night. It was tough to remind myself to take it easy so I didn't undue all of the recovery. The only thing worse than being sick is prolonging your sickness.