Things can only get better.

Dear reader,

I have been itching to write something for a few days – not only has being ill curtailed my running which has been frustrating enough, it has also halted one of the few creative outlets I have here on the blog! So what you will find below is a breakdown of the past week as it has been for me. I’m feeling a lot better today and I’m hoping to keep on getting better – today is the first time I’ve felt comfortable enough to not take any medication and also the first time I have felt happy enough to be able to listen to music! From this point onward I’m certain that things can only get better…

Thursday 30th April

A scheduled rest day after a 17km effort the day before. I didn’t feel particularly bright and breezy throughout the day and wondered if I might have a cold. I spent the afternoon remodeling the blog and fighting off the urge to sleep – I’d regret missing out on this sleep later on.

As the night wore on my temperature kept on rising and I spent a lot of time right through the night removing and replacing clothes to try and sleep properly. Nothing worked and I had about 3 hours of broken sleep.

Friday 1st May

Started the day with heavy legs, a high temperature, a headache and a very sore throat. I knew I was in for a long haul at this point. I manged to walk into town to visit my brother for a short while as he had just returned from Amsterdam but I felt so tired, drained and ill after around half an hour that I headed home. Spent the rest of the day and night shifting between muscle spasms, shivers and then sweats and extremely high temperature. I had zero appetite but thought, foolishly, that I should eat. Threw up overnight, had around an hour of unbroken sleep but the rest of the night spent writhing around with sweats or pacing to stop shivering!

Saturday 2nd May

Started the day much the same as Friday but with the feelings magnified around a hundred fold. I can honestly say that I have never, ever felt so ill in my 31 years. Everything ached and felt sore, I felt utterly dehydrated but sipping on water just made me feel ill. I had no desire to eat but this was probably a good thing as I learned late Friday I should starve a fever – no trouble there. Whenever I relaxed or tried to sleep I’d immediately break into a sweat and my temperature would feel out of control and then once I started moving or writhing around, or trying to cool myself down I’d break out into shivers and become very cold. Throughout the day I had mental demons that all seemed to be centred around running: ‘Why do you even run at all?’, ‘You’re nothing special on the trail or road so why not just pack it all in’, ‘Who in their right mind wants to run 50 or 100 miles’, ‘Why don’t you just hang out with your friends in the pub and do ‘normal’ stuff’…It was torturous as it felt like somebody had entered my mind and was berating me with no rhyme or reason!

Sunday 3rd May

For the previous 2 days I had little to no contact with anybody, including my housemates. I figured what I might have might be contagious so I did my best quarantine myself. By Sunday morning I felt adrift and isolated even with regular phone contact with Gabrielle. I think this was bourne out in my fevered dreams – whenever I managed to snatch fifteen to thirty minutes of something akin to sleep I found myself skiing through mist and fog somewhere extremely remote, I think I was imagining the Arctic or the Antarctic, I don’t know.

I decided to break the isolation anyhow and also decided to try an eat something. I was limited in choice as I could not summon the energy to stand and cook anything – oven chips sufficed for breakfast! The food seemed to do me some good and I feel asleep but when I woke up my headache, sweats and high temperature had returned…along with some crazy cravings for ice cream, KFC, mashed potatoes and noodles?! I got through the rest of the afternoon on fresh lemon, hot water and honey and as night fell I gave in to a craving for mashed potatoes.

Unfortunately my night went much the way of Friday and Saturday.

Monday 4th May

Well I ‘woke up’ feeling drained and tired. My throat felt particularly sore but the muscle aches and pains had gone away along with the temperature, sweats and shivers. I made sure that today I would get up, get some real clothes on and get outside for a short while…that is after I’d attended to my food cravings which required a visit to the local store and along the way I decided to drop by and say Hi to my Dad – the interaction lifted my spirits and I returned home to eat a bacon sandwich for breakfast and drink about a  litre of iced Lucozade.

After breakfast and a rest I gathered myself to head out to the field at the top of my street. It’s around a 1.5km loop and I decided to walk it clockwise and then counter clockwise. I laced up my New Balance Leadville and…death marched for the next hour and fifteen minutes! To call my walk slow would be an insult to the words ‘slow’ and ‘walk’ but I was extremely glad to be outside and exerting some effort in the fresh air, in my running shoes and with trail underfoot. I returned home feel extremely tired and then kind of collapsed on my bed for something akin to an hour long nap – I can’t say that I was asleep as there was certainly a level of consciousness but I was happily immobile for the first time since Wednesday evening!

I ‘woke up’ feeling starving so I steamed some broccoli and boiled up some wholewheat rice and afterwards lay in bed for the first time, again since Wednesday, with no sweats and no shivers feeling like I might actually get a decent night of sleep before my Doc’s appointment the next morning…

Tuesday 5th May

Not the worst night of sleep of the past week but certainly not a great one. I managed maybe four hours unbroken sleep, again plagued by dreams of a distant tundra, but woke up feeling a hundred fold better than I had done the day before. I still felt absolutely shattered but my temperature seemed to be somewhere near normal and I had no sweats or shivers to contend with…just a hacking cough and an extremely sore throat.

I visited the Doctor who told me that I’d battled through what sounded like a pretty nasty virus with  just the help of paracetamol, fresh lemon and honey! She seemed surprised that I hadn’t taken myself to A&E after Saturday’s horror show. The advice from the Doc was to keep on doing what I’d been doing but to go ahead and grab some Nytol and cough syrup to help me sleep – she said the Nytol would reduce my heart rate to a comfortable level which should help me drift off. During the visit my resting HR was 70 (it’s normally around 43-45)?! So it was that I took myself to the chemist, stocked up on decongestants and mild tranquilisers and went on home to test the theory!

I manged just over an hour of sleep in mid-morning. This made me feel pretty good for the day and the cough syrup, although making me feel drowsy, took the edge off the hacking nature of my cough and so I settled in to finally do some reading for the first time since Thursday. I read some of my Navigation ‘How To’ manual, a little bit of ‘Runner’ by Lizzie Hawker and began to feel a bit like myself again. The urge to run was certainly building!

Sleep came easily.

Wednesday 6th May

What a difference a day can make! I felt pretty great today. I got up and had a slow start to the morning…I blame the over the counter drugs…and then decided to walk to the local super store to stock up on vegetables and salad and all the good food I’d been missing out on. I got caught in a torrential downpour on the way home but it felt refreshing as opposed to draining and the little worry I had about getting really ill again passed when I got indoors and whizzed up a fresh smoothie consisting of two bananas, some red grapes, blueberries, strawberries, pineapple and a dash of water – aside from the nasty cough I felt pretty awake and more invigorated than all the previous days put together!

I decided to take it easy for the rest of the day so I read some more of my Navigation manual, watched ‘The Phantom Menace’ for the first time – I do not recommend it, definitely the worst film in the Star Wars franchise…it did lull me into a nap with about half hour to go though so I guess every cloud does have a silver lining!

I spent the evening catching up on ultra blogs, reading up on this weekend’s Transvulcania race which I cannot wait to follow, reading some stuff about Arctic and Antarctic ski expeditions and cooking baked potatoes to go with a very tasty, fresh, green salad for my dinner. After dinner I took my over the counter drugs and slipped into a sweet, dreamless oblivion!

Thursday 7th May

Less tired. Happier. Hungrier. Not quite ready to run but happy to be thinking about it and planning my return to training. Cough has abated massively, throat is almost back to normal and I think I can throw the Nytol and cough syrup away in favour of fresh lemon, honey, hot water and fresh food.

I’ve pencilled in Sunday for my first run in what will be 12 days! I think a short road run around the block should test the water sufficiently as I don’t want to push too hard, too early and jeopordise my recovery and the chance of a good race at Ox Ultra on May 24th!

Peace & Blessings

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