How do I train after illness - Women's Running

How do I train after illness?

Author: Women's Running Magazine

Read Time:   |  July 8, 2014

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Laura Byrne may be a sports PR but she is also a complete running novice….until now. We at Women’s Running have asked Laura to not only start running but to bravely blog about the highs and lows for all the world to see. adidas will support Laura’s goal to morph into a runner by the Reigate Half Marathon in September. This is Laura’s fourth blog post…

So last week I skipped a post, choosing to take time off running to spend the weekend at Glastonbury festival. I went on Thursday morning with 15 or so friends ready for a weekend of listening to amazing music and dancing in muddy fields.

Unfortunately, the weekend didn’t quite go to plan and I fell ill with viral food poisoning while I was there – so much fun. So despite it being a week after the festival ended, I now haven’t been able to run for almost two weeks.

I’m feeling much better now, but worried about the prospect of getting back out running. After not eating for three days, and spending almost a week in bed, it’s hard to know when the time is right to start exercising again. I’ve got a 10K in a few weeks and really need to get into serious training mode if I’m going to do myself justice, but don’t want to do more harm than good by overdoing it too soon.

Recovery begins

Hydration and blood sugar levels are both pretty key to running performance, and they are the two things hit hardest by things like food poisoning and the flu. Thankfully my running friends have been full of advice on the recovery process.

I’ve heard lots of people say that they continue to train when they have colds (which I really can’t do!), but the general consensus for anything gastrointestinal seems to be no running at all until you’ve felt well for a good day or two. This means getting back to normal activity and eating for at least 24 hours before trying to run again. I’ve also heard that it can take weeks to fully recover your fitness, so I shouldn’t expect to be back to normal on my first go.

Slow but sure, strength not speed

Once you are feeling well enough to go for a run, the key seems to be getting back on track slowly but surely. While moderate exercise can help to boost the immune system, I’m told the focus should be on building strength back up rather than high intensity and distance. Pushing yourself too hard too quickly will be detrimental for both your running and your overall fitness.

Obviously everyone is different so I think the key thing is listening to your body during your run and post-run to know how hard and far you can push yourself. If you feel awful, stop and try again in a day or so. If you feel good, up your distance slightly the next time you go out.

Even after returning to work, I’m still not eating normally so am not quite there in terms of energy levels yet. I’m giving myself a couple more days off before giving it a go later this week – sticking to a reasonable distance, drinking plenty of water, ignoring the clock, and taking it as easy as I need to. Fingers crossed it goes ok!

You can find Laura’s other blogs here and you can find her tweeting @LauraEByrne

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