Runners are sick in the heads

Well, it is true, but that’s not really what I meant there.  I’ve  been feeling a little under the weather lately. This is unusual for me. I was sick A LOT as a kid. Nothing terrible, luckily, but colds and stomach bugs and allergies seemingly all the time. I even got shingles when I was in high school. My grandpa got it around the same time as me, so you can imagine that it was a little odd for someone of my age to come down with that. I got mono (the kissing disease- although this freshman was doing no kissing, so I’m not sure how I lucked into that one)  in college, and was always sick every finals period. The point of all that is, as an adult, I’ve been pretty lucky. I guess my immune system has gotten a pretty good workout, and has finally become fit enough to keep me well. I’m rarely sick. I had perfect attendance (no sick days!) at work last year, and you better believe I picked up my certificate.

What’s odd, is that when I do get sick it follows a very specific pattern. I always get sick in the last leg of race training or immediately following the race. Every year. You can set your clock by it. I didn’t notice the correlation the first two years because both of my races (and race training periods) were in the fall, so I just figured it was seasonal allergies. Now, that I also ran a half in the spring, it’s baaaaack, which was enough to make me wonder, why?

So, I went to my source for all things running, Runner’s World and found this article on runners and their immune systems. It sounds counter-intuitive (running makes you healthy!) but due to the release of cortisol during instense long runs, running can actually wear down your immune system. It’s a great resource, so I definitely recommend checking it out. Here are some highlights I found particularly interesting.

  • How you run matters. Since long runs take the biggest toll, RW suggests replacing a medium distance run (not your weekly long) with some HIIT intervals. This is not a bad way to break up the monotony either.
  • Keep your stress in check. I know a lot of people (myself included) use running as a stress reliever, but sometimes your run can stress you out too. Maybe you’re nervous about the ever increasing distance. Maybe you had a bad run. Maybe running brings all the nasty stuff you don’t want to deal with to the forefront of your mind. No matter, everyone can benefit by some de-stressing. They suggest meditation. Meditation always stresses me out more, so I suggest anything that lowers your blood pressure. Mine happen to be reading, chopping vegetables, and petting Miles (when he’s not biting me). Do what works for you.
  • Sleep! It’s obvious, but your body needs more rest when you’re working it to the brink. With early morning runs or long runs that steal an hour or two from your day, it’s easy for sleep to get the shaft. Don’t let this happen. Give your body the rest it deserves, and make sure it’s quality sleep too. I just bought some earplugs to keep from being woken up every 2 hours (MILES), and I’m thinking of getting a mask too as more and more studies show that even tiny amounts of light effect your quality of sleep. Make sleep a priority. Be your own parent, give yourself a bedtime, and stick with it.
  • Eat right. This is another gimme. We all know this, but do we all do it? It’s easy to justify eating junk when you’re working your butt off, and sometimes you’re just too tired to make a good, quality meal, but don’t shortchange yourself. Eating clean, healthy, balanced meals (and of course that means occasional junk) will do your immune system a world of good.
  • Be extra careful in the three days following a race. They recommend bringing hand sanitizer to a race, which isn’t a bad idea when you consider the state of those porta potties.

So, there you have it. There’s no magic bullet for health. Running alone will not keep you totally healthy. As always, it’s a balanced holistic approach that involves healthy eating, good quality sleep, stress management and conscious effort that keeps you feeling your best.

So what should this person feeling under the weather do? Go out on a school night, of course! I was actually feeling a little better yesterday than I have been all week, so I figured it was safe to go to happy hour and be around other humans.

Chris and I met up with friends in the Financial District at The Bailey where we had a few drinks and marveled at this semi-inappropriate statue

Oh Wall Street.

Next, we headed uptown to the Lower East Side (that feels weird to say) to Jebon. It’s a regular restaraunt upstairs, but once we headed downstairs and paid our cover, we got stamped.

I don’t even mind that it’s still on my hand this morning despite the scrubbing because that little penguin is super cute.

They had this teeny intimate stage set up for performances, and we got to see some really good ones.

First this guy, a comedian of sorts, performed It’s Gonna Be Me, which of course made my night (you’ll recall my love of NSYNC)

Next, two girls and one guy performed before Jay took the stage.

Blurry, but this girl was really very good. Her name was Lonna Marie, and I don’t know if she has an album available for sale, but she has a single on iTunes called Don’t Forget, which she performed last night, and it was great. You guys know I stopped trying to find new music I liked about 3 years ago, but seeing these totally talented artists made me want to start searching again.

I can’t remember the names of these artists, but they were also really good. The card the gave us at the door says they’re part of Underground Artists Live, so maybe check that out.The talent in the room was just sort of overflowing last night. It was amazing to see these guys get up in front of people and just play. That’s something I could never imagine doing, but it was really cool.

Next up was Jay who, I’m embarrassed to say, I had actually never seen play before. He’s the son of my co-worker, and performs around the city pretty frequently, but I’d never been able to attend a show until last night. I’m glad I went because he was really good! He’s got a great sound, and I could totally imagine hearing every one of his songs on the radio someday. He was also an amazing performer. He got the crowd involved in the songs, and everyone was really loving it.

He also has music on iTunes, so check him out!

Chris lusted after the guitars and drum sets, and I predict they’ll be a lot of song sessions in our house in the coming days, but that’s fine by me because truly, he’s my favorite artist always.

There’s just something about the man I love playing guitar that makes me swoon.

Miles agrees.

After Jay’s performance, we hit the road. I think there were a few more performers, and I totally would have stayed were it not for that whole it was a Thursday and I’m a grownup and grownups are expected to get up and go to work on Fridays thing. We managed to get to the PATH station only 4 minutes before the train came, which is some sort of miracle, so we actually made it home within the hour. It was amazing. Miles was furious with us for being out so long, so it was sort of a sleepless night. I’m dragging a little bit this morning, but I’ve got a fun day ahead of me, so that’s keeping me going.

Tonight will be our first run since the half, and my legs are ready to get moving! After that, Chris and I are heading to the scene of the crime, the place where we had our first date, to celebrate our one year anniversary. We’ll be in the South on Sunday, so we figured we’d celebrate early. Then we’ve got to pack and hit the sack early, as we’ll be on the road by 5am tomorrow morning! I’m trying not to focus on the 12 hour drive ahead of us but rather that I get to see my family tomorrow night!! I’m so excited. I haven’t seen them since Christmas, so my heart is aching to get down there. Happy Friday everyone!

***

Have you ever come down with the (half) marathon sniffles?

What’s the last great live music you saw?

Any suggestions for fun car games to help pass our 12 hour drive??

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Runners are sick in the heads

  1. We usually get a fiction audio book on CD from the library for our 10 hour drive to see my family. With a NJ public library card, you can also download audiobooks to an iPod or smart phone from Listennj.com and then connect to the car stereo if you have a connector.

    Reply

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