Monday, January 11, 2010

Eugene Prep Begins (Sort Of)

My left nostril was clogged and there was a scratchiness where the nose and throat intersect. It was 4 a.m. and I needed a glass of water. Thus began Day 1 of my 16 weeks of focused training for the Eugene Marathon.

This is my first brush with ill health this winter. What timing! I went for a run anyway, but a short one. Here's why (as reported in Runner’s World a few years ago):
David Nieman, Ph.D., who heads the Human Performance Laboratory at Appalachian State University, and has run 58 marathons and ultras, uses the "neck rule." Symptoms below the neck (chest cold, bronchial infection, body ache) require time off, while symptoms above the neck (runny nose, stuffiness, sneezing) don't pose a risk to runners continuing workouts.

 This view is supported by research done at Ball State University by Tom Weidner, Ph.D., director of athletic training research. In one study, Weidner took two groups of 30 runners each and inoculated them with the common cold. One group ran 30 to 40 minutes every day for a week. The other group was sedentary. According to Weidner, "the two groups didn't differ in the length or severity of their colds." In another study, he found that running with a cold didn't compromise performance. He concluded that running with a head cold—as long as you don't push beyond accustomed workouts—is beneficial in maintaining fitness and psychological well-being.
It wasn’t a bad run, actually. I kept it as low-key as possible: five miles at a slow-as-can-go 9:15 pace on the grass at nearby Normandale Park. I read somewhere once that if you go out to run when feeling a little sick, after 10 minutes—if you haven't dropped dead already—you should take an accounting of your condition. If you feel better, keep running. If you feel worse, stop and go home. I felt better, so I kept going. I flirted with the idea of going for six, seven, maybe even eight miles, but quickly dismissed the foolish notion.

Now, a few hours later, the cold is progressing just as colds do: the nose/throat area that was scratchy this morning is red and irritated and I’ve got a little bit of pressure in the sinuses. No fever, no headache, pretty good energy, huge appetite (that never fails), but, man, that irritation in the nose/throat sucks.

Impossible to say right now what this means as far as my training plan goes. I’ve got three key Eugene Prep runs on the agenda this week: a 13-mile long run @ 7:22 pace; a 2-mile tempo run @ 6:14; and a track workout consisting of 3x1600 @ 5:41 w/ 1-minute rest intervals. That track workout is intense enough and the long run long and fast enough that I wouldn’t want to do either unless I’m confident the cold is beaten. I’m incredibly eager to get this program rolling, but at this point the risk/benefit analysis suggests being careful. And I shall be.

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