Training while sick/Injured

What should we do, or not do, as the case may be, to keep some level of training during treatment and how best to train during recovery?

During a time of Illness:

I've been running a long time, preferring the longer distance, mainly half marathons but I've done the 26.2 distance and have participated in sea swims and triathlons where stamina is essential. But as my health deteriorated over the past ten years from a tick bite my energy levels gradually dropped, flu-like aches and pains steadily got worse so much so that just getting out of the bed was a real challenge and my nervous system was badly affected.

Following treatment I made a significant improvement, I couldn't believe how my life improved and I got back out training and felt fantastic. However further treatment set me right back, so much so, I ended up in an ambulance after a race! That was a first for me and a bit of an eye opener.

Some months later I finally started to feel like I was turning a corner and that I was finally on the mend as I was starting to feel a little bit stronger each day.

So here's some advice about how I approached illness and training:

Don't despair, I totally get how frustrating it is to be ill, but there's always hope, be positive and remember, there's always someone else out there worse off than yourself, so lets be grateful.

Try to get out and move even when you're at your worst. I would get out and walk as much as I could do comfortably and work my way up slowly and gradually. It's what kept me sane! It's far better to move the body than do nothing.

Build up gradually, about a month after my ambulance experience I went out for my usual walk and I managed to run about 1 mile for the first time in ages and I was so happy you'd swear I'd won a race and in my mind it was a huge milestone on my recovery.

Don't compare your level of fitness during illness and recovery to what you used to do before as it will just play games with your head and make you feel bad about yourself. 

Go to a light yoga, pilates or tai chi class and just let your instructor know your illness may hold you back or slow you down so that they don't push you out of your energy zone. In the meantime you will be strengthening your body for when you get better.

Keep a diary of the exercise you do, if any, and record how you felt after the exercise, what energy level you had that day. This way you can review your progress.

Listen to your body, if it's telling you to rest, obey the body, you've only got one.

Motivate yourself during recovery by signing up to a local race or Park Run, but whatever you do take it easy, race for fun and now is not the time to worry about your time.

During the recovery period don't compare yourself to others or worry about what others might be thinking of you and your running. Who cares! Nobody knows what's going on with your health and most likely they're more concerned about their own race and not yours.

Eat well, lots of vegetables, fish, lean meat and less of the sugary foods.

Consider supplements (in consultation with your doctor, consultant or practitioner) to help boost your health, but make sure if you're taking them that you're actually absorbing them otherwise your wasting your money. Some supplements I take include Omega, Ionic Magnesium, Probiotics, Vitamin C, Power Greens and Ashwagandha.

Contact a recommended Herbalist and consider a trial of 2 - 3 months of a herbal tonic to treat your particular health issues. Don't forget to give them a list of any supplements you take.

Don't try to play catch-up and end up over-training in an attempt to make up for lost time. It's lost, move on. Build up relatively gradually and continue to listen to your body as you don't want to set yourself back ill again, but if you're bouncing back, savour the fast progress.

Don't be hard on yourself, be kind and reward yourself when you make positive progress and enjoy feeling fit and healthy again.

Take good care of your body don't take it for granted, mind it, care for it, nurture it, because when it's not working properly I can tell you life is very different.

During a time of Injury....

Its actually quite a different matter believe it or not!

At the end of July 2016 I was giving a workshop and as I was getting down in a lunge position to take a photograph of a clients posture my foot slipped back and I did a mini splits and felt my hamstring tear. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah is all I could say and stayed glued to the spot until I could bear to move myself out of the lunge and try to recover myself. Not pleasant.

At this time you have energy and you're used to your training programme or getting out 5 or 6 times a week and suddenly your physio tells you to stop and lay off the training......

....for the first week you tell yourself, 'sure no harm I need a rest or a break anyway' or you convince yourself that its a good way to get you to slow down and take it easy'!!!     but after a week or 10 days you start to get quite frustrated and the body is craving your usual exercise routine!

So what's to do....well it really all depends on the level of the physical injury, is it minor or acute?  Is it muscular, bone or other?

You need to pay attention to the medics advice but also listen to your own body as sometimes (again depending on the injury) who knows your body better than you. 

Having attended Dr. Tim Gabbetto deliver a cutting edge sports performance workshop it was comforting to hear him say just because you're injured doesn't mean stopping, just change what you can do, adapt until your injury heals.

That's what I did, but my injury was a muscle tear so if you break something it may not be possible.

So off I went to the pool as you can jog, run, exercise and swim without putting pressure on your injury or you can gradually strengthen the injured area. Thankfully it was a life saver for me as I think I would go pretty crazy without my exercise routine.  

So lets hope the injuries stay away but if not, don't just give up, do something else to help keep you going while you recover.

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