Honesty Is The Best Policy

When it comes to illness and training, you have to be honest with yourself.

It’s important to be honest with yourself and learn from injury and illness.

Written by: Courtney Baird

When it comes to illness and training, you have to be honest with yourself.

Several weeks ago, I was sent home from work with a cold. I spent the next four miserable days in my apartment, watching bad TV, eating spicy Thai coconut soup and blowing my nose.

I was doing everything right—things I would have never done a few years ago, like taking time off work or cutting back on my training. In fact, I had stopped training altogether—except for some light walking—and I was pounding the vitamin C and Cold-Eeze.

I would be back to regular training in no time—and I was.

But the problem was, I wasn’t being honest with myself.

Although I felt like my energy was back, I was still coughing a little, and my nose was still running. If I had had the sense to accurately assess the situation, I would have told myself to wait a few more days before I jumped back into things. But I didn’t. Instead, I went right back to regular training.

Because of my impatience, my cold lingered for weeks, and my last race of the season was a disaster.

In my defense, I feel like my frame of reference was a little skewed. Last year, I pushed things too hard in training and, as a consequence, came down with walking pneumonia. I could barely stand or sit, let alone run. After months of illness, I questioned if I would ever feel better again, or if I would just be an invalid for the rest of my life.

In the grand scheme of things, I felt like I learned a lot from the pneumonia. I learned where to draw the line in training—when to hold back so I wouldn’t push myself over the edge. Put simply, I learned how to not drive myself into a hole.

But apparently I didn’t learn how to dig myself out of the hole.

More specifically, I didn’t learn how to properly assess my body so I could nurse it back to health. If it wasn’t pneumonia and I wasn’t on the brink of death—if it was just something I picked up from my coworkers in close quarters—then it was nothing.

Unfortunately, it was something. But, on the bright side of things, I learned from my most recent setback. I learned that I have to be honest with myself when I’m coming back from an illness—even if it’s just a cold—and that I should only get back to training when I’m ready.

I hope you can learn from this, too.

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Courtney Baird is senior editor of Inside Triathlon magazine. She ran Division 1 cross country and track and now competes in triathlons as an elite age-grouper. She can be reached by e-mail at cbaird@competitorgroup.com.

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