The mind/body connection – and how I have to work on mine!

On Wednesday I came down with a nasty stomach bug.  Like many things in my life, I realized in hindsight that the signs were there that it was coming – I was just completely inept at interpreting them.  It turns out I’m also very terrible at reading hunger cues.  Here is how my lead-up to sickness transpired:

Saturday and Sunday – I ran fairly hard both days (9 mile fartlek workout on Sat and 13 mile long run on Sun) and felt great.

Monday – I felt very tired and attributed it to recovering from my double-intensity efforts on the weekend.  I didn’t run in the morning and may have been a little more irritable than usual throughout the day (in hindsight).

Tuesday – I ran 7 miles extremely slowly as I still felt inexplicably exhausted.  Throughout the day I continued to feel tired with strange sensations in my tummy.  I naturally interpreted this to mean I had low blood sugar and needed food.  All day.  This is what I ate on Tuesday while desperately trying to self-medicate for my strange feelings (of hunger – I thought):

  • a large bowl of cereal with a banana (my normal breakfast)
  • 6 cups of coffee (really just one mug at home and then a travel mug, but if you’re measuring by the coffee pot it says 6 cups)
  • an orange, carrots, and celery at work as a snack
  • 1/3 of a container of almonds at work because they were in my desk and I thought “how am I still hungry at 10 a.m.? oh well, at least these are here…”
  • chocolate frozen yogourt and a tray of sushi for lunch
  • a (large) handful of chocolate covered blueberries from my work neighbour’s desk in the afternoon (because I still had that weird feeling and needed to fix it)
  • 3 or 4 (I wasn’t paying attention) pieces of pizza for dinner (including my kids’ crusts – I cannot understand why they don’t like pizza crust).  I honestly still believed I was feeling tired and cranky because of lack of food.

That may seem like a lot to eat, especially for non-runners.  For me, I never really track what I eat and just eat according to how I feel.  When I read magazines outlining “diets of the stars” I sometimes wonder if I would survive half a day on their menu plans.  But looking at this, I do recognize that it seems like a lot.

I went to bed at around 9:45 p.m.  that evening to get ready for my last workout before the Sporting Life 10K on Sunday.

Wednesday – I woke up at 4:50 a.m.  Basically you’re numb and zombie-like at that time regardless of how you will eventually end up feeling, so I put on my running clothes and headed out the door to meet my running group.  I met my workout buddies half a mile into my warm-up and immediately told them I’d amended the workout (you can do that when you’re the coach).  The one mile at 10K pace was now at tempo effort, and the 800’s at 5K pace were now at 10K pace.  The 400’s which I had earlier said should be “quick” I changed to “go as you feel”.  Considering how I was feeling, that made perfect sense.  As usual my sister didn’t listen to me and went at the faster, earlier prescribed paces.  Hunh.  How did she feel so good when it seemed so hard to me?

Then I got home and realized all was not right.  I did not feel like my coffee.  In fact I didn’t feel like ingesting anything, including water despite my dry mouth.  My stomach was turning and churning and my workout fatigue became overall intense body fatigue.  I had a presentation that day which I had to get through, but spent the rest of the day curled in my bed.  On that day I ate ZERO.  I tried gum to help my dry mouth but even that made me nauseous.  Definitely not the best recovery recipe for a workout (albeit a soft one).

Thursday (today) – I did not set my alarm to run.  I went through my day normally, but still felt off with my tummy and energy levels.  Taking the stairs left me gasping for air and my legs burning. (nothing like that sensation to play psychological mind tricks on you regarding your state of fitness).  I ate very little but I plan to feel better tomorrow.  I will set my alarm for a short jog.  I’m hoping to feel ok in time for the race on Sunday.

Obviously I was in a good state of denial leading up to my sickness.  Next up … tricking myself into believing it will have no negative effects on my 10K.  The last thing I need is a little niggly excuse working its way into my brain in the last few miles of racing pain.  As I say … Suck It Up, Buttercup!  Hope those are words I will live by on Sunday…

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