Hope you’re feeling well.
I rarely get sick, but a bug got me this time. Many days coughing, body aches, fever, gastric issues too. Thankfully COVID neg. The doctor ruled out flu (but there are so many types of flu, right…?), and it wasn’t pneumonia on Friday. So an antibiotic was prescribed, which added a yeast infection. That checks most of the boxes for feeling bitchy.
I’m giving myself this advice once again. I’ll bet some of you might need to hear it too.
I know from years of experience as an athlete and a coach, that it can be a huge mental hurdle to have enforced time off exercise due to illness or injury. Our identity is tied to what we can do. Performance results are only a part of it- it’s the joy of feeling the mind and body working hard, training toward a goal.
An athlete’s brain and body need to work hard with an illness too. It’s another type of physical and mental challenge.
Illness itself is awful, but it can be a much needed rest and recovery period, enabling you to come back stronger.
As an athlete, if you’re not feeling well, it’s understandable that you’re frustrated that you aren’t able to exercise as normal.
You might even think you need to push through the illness, or because you’re exercising less, that you need to eat less and reduce calories. The opposite is true.
Here are tips for getting through illness, and recovering faster:
- Eat. Your body functions on calories, especially carbs. Especially important when you need fuel to fight illness. Not talking about binging on pastries (Christmas goodies are everywhere, I know), but high quality carbs, plus protein, and healthy fat. Listen to your hunger signals. Eat foods that provide healthy fuel, which also comfort you. If you can eat, focus on prebiotic and probiotic foods that will provide a healthy dose of carbohydrates while also aiding in gut health. I like the vinegary taste of fermented foods, and this fire cider feels very therapeutic for throat soreness and chest congestion. Costco rotisserie chicken soup is wonderful, along with a couple of slices of my sourdough bread feels just right to me.
- Hydrate. If you’re good at drinking water all day (my half-gallon water bottle is right here keeping me on track), keep it up. There are many soothing decaf teas. Matcha has a bit of caffeine, but also health benefits. If you’re running a fever, calorie and hydration needs increase. The increase in body temperature increases the risk of dehydration, so drink up.
- Sleep. I’m usually not good at napping, but these last few days I’ve trudged up the stairs, flopped on the bed, and actually slept for a few hours each afternoon, and I went to bed at 8pm. Your body is healing when you re sleeping. If sleep is being interrupted by coughing, aches, sniffling, it means you might need to stay in bed longer.
- Exercise. It’s ok to exercise if you feel up to it. Focus on mobility and strength, and keep your heart rate low. If you can’t imagine not doing cardio, take it down (a bunch of notches), keep your effort at a talkable level, and manage even breathing.
You can’t always prevent illness, so if you do get sick, give yourself the best chance of faster and more thorough recovery by focusing on not over exercising, getting enough sleep, eating a nutrient rich diet, and hydrating.