It’s said that lessons repeat themselves until learned. If this is true then there is one particular lesson that has been really hard for me to learn, and I have had to repeat it time after time after time. That lesson is: if you feel sick, don’t train.
My usual pattern goes like this: I feel under the weather, perhaps with my nose congested and my energy low. I decide to go train anyhow, telling myself “I’ll just go light”. Then I head off and do jiu-jitsu (or go for a run, or lift weights) and usually go a little harder than I had planned on. After training I feel proud of myself: ” I didn’t let those sniffles stop me!”. I go to bed, and wake up the next morning sick as a dog.
When I was young and impressionable an ‘expert’ told me that if the sickness was above the neck (i.e. in the throat, nose or sinuses) then it was OK to train. Supposedly you were only supposed to stop training if the sickness was below the neck, in the chest or stomach. Well many years later (and after many colds and flus) I realize that the best way to bring an illness from above the neck to below the neck is to go and work out.
I’m better now – at least 75% of the time when I’m feeling under the weather I back off and do nothing. As a result I’m not sick as often and also lose a lot less training time. I end up feeling like a slug, but at least I’m a smart slug. Better to take a day off and go hard the next day, than to tough it out and lose a whole week of training.
Now you can’t say that nobody ever told you…
This tip actually turned into a two-part series. Click here to read ‘More Sick and Tired.’