Iron is forged in the Winter

Winter, while you’re training for an endurance event, is a snotty, phlegm filled minefield.

Literally everyone you meet is sniffing. Or coughing. Or pale and clammy.

My hands dry out, not from dehydration, but from constant cleaning and sanitising.

Humans. Are. Disgusting.

It’s inevitable then, that at some stage during this critical but flexible part of training for Lakesman I will become ill.

About a week before Christmas, I woke up for work and thought “ooh. Last night’s burger hasn’t sat particularly well” and then was promptly sick. Every half hour. For fourteen hours. I was even sick on myself. Something that hasn’t happened since the heady days of uni. It was wholly character building.

Miraculously, I didn’t pass this bug to anyone because I stayed under a duvet and on a toilet floor for two days. When I eventually emerged into the Outside, blinking at the daylight, I was 2kgs lighter and hungry.

Except I couldn’t eat anything bar digestive biscuits and plain pasta for 4 days. Everything hurt my stomach. Even water.

This was a quick way to lose the last 2kgs I had been trying to shift, but I don’t recommend it as a weight-loss method.

Ever since PukeGate, I’ve had a lingering sore throat and a swollen right tonsil. This isn’t a worry, normally. I’ve had regular bouts of tonsillitis since childhood. It’s only when they both swell and go white that it’s time to see the Doc. But even so, this prolonged period of “am I sick? No. Don’t think so. Maybe.” Is starting to have an impact on training consistency.

Of course, the liberating thing about developing my own training plan and designing it around my life, work and personal strengths and weaknesses, is that I can flex it. I can take an extra day or two off here or there, knowing with Complete confidence that those days won’t have an impact on race day: (hint: it’s the same for any plan. Seriously. A day off is ok.)

You’ll never get to a start line regretting the days you let your body rest and recover. But you’d sure as hell regret the days you pushed through and ruined your long term fitness by exacerbating an illness or injury.

What’s frustrating are the “sort of” days.

I’m “sort of” sick. Or “sort of” exhausted. It’s a balance between pushing yourself over the edge to “actually sick” or maintaining your consistency. These days can make you feel awesome if you’re actually well and these days can really hammer in some Nails, or they can exacerbate symptoms and force a tired body back under the duvet for a week. It’s a gut-trusting thing, at the end of the day. But for me rest is always best.

That sounds wisdomous (it’s a word) but I’ve not always been so “sensible” (is THAT a word?) and rational about resting. I still battle with the Can’t Be Arsed arguments, but I’ve come a hella long way since I started out and pushed through everything BECAUSE NONE OF THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE EASY AND YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO SUFFER AND HURT SO LET ME RUN 20 MILES WHILE ON AMOXYCILLIN THANK YOU.

Sure. None of this is supposed to be easy. And there is a certain amount of suffering to be done. HOWEVER. on balance, if you’re sick or injured or hurting more than normal, you will benefit a billion times more from a day of self-love and relaxing and eating good food and bingeing on Netflix, than from putting your trainers on and forcing out some miles. Preach.

If I could give any advice to 2013 Bean, it would be REST, WOMAN. FOR FUCK SAKE. REST. I would legit have saved myself so much bother. 🙄

Me being me, I can’t just have an immune system to worry about. Because I like to spice things up. So, as well as fighting off the office bugs, I’ve had the added stress and excitement of being offered a new job and having to hand in my notice.

Big life changes are always hard. But big life changes while you’re training for the biggest challenge of your life come with physiological risks and drawbacks.

The stress has been REAL.

As a hypochondriac hoping to combat bugs, I read a lot about the benefits of micronutrient supplements. A human being in 2018 in a developed country with a Tesco or an Aldi, can pretty much get every feasible macro and micro nutrient off a shelf. It’s not difficult to fuel your body well. However, I am also Scottish. With a day job. So if I don’t get out for lunchtime walks during the week, I literally only feel daylight on my skin at the weekends. This makes a vitamin D supplement essential. This is the second winter I’ve taken it and I genuinely think that it makes a difference, not just to my Bug Recovery Time, but to my general well-being.

I also take Zinc. Which my GP recommended as one of the few supplements that will actively shorten a cold. I don’t know if it actually works or if it’s Psychologically beneficial, but imma keep taking it anyway.

In addition to Vit D & Zinc, I have a balanced diet which, contrary to recent Instagram posts, isn’t even 90% cheese. But I do take a good quality multivitamin JUST to be on a safe side. I may have expensive pee as my body discards everything which it does not require, but I feel like I have my bases covered. And that’s the main thing.

I may be playing a tonsil waiting game at the moment, but I’m happy to train when I feel well enough and to the best of my ability. As long as I can keep things relatively consistent, I’ll be making progress and that is what matters.

This is a long journey, and I’ve a long way to go, so I want to enjoy it as much as possible. Bumps and all!