Smutty Fitness: Training Smart After Illness

Hayley Posted by Hayley at May 3, 2012 13:58:27 May 3, 2012 13:58:27

Hi, Hayley,
I was training for a 10-mile spring race and all was going well — till I got struck down six weeks ago by a sinus infection that has since become "walking" pneumonia. I of course dropped training when I realised I was well and truly ill (although I pushed on a couple weeks longer than I maybe should have), but I wasn't able to simply drop my full-time job, taking three spring-semester classes (a second degree is an insane idea, btw), doing freelance on the side and a trip across the Pond to see my Londoner boyfriend.
Basically, I'm still exhausted all the time, but now that the semester is over (finished my last paper last night!) and I've got two weeks till summer term starts, I'm POSITIVELY ITCHING to get back to physical activity. Even if it wipes me out, I've now got a little spare time to dedicate to starting to get back into shape. My tendency in life is to do too much. But I want to be smart with this — I REALLY don't want to end up out of commission even longer just because I overdid it for a week.



First thing you need to do is make sure you are completely healthy before starting back at your exercise routine so I suggest you get clearance from your doctor before you move forward; the last thing you need to do is get sick again. Secondly, I want you to take a moment and think about what you said in your email: “my tendency in life is to do too much”.  I know a lot of people like that (including yours truly) and we can only burn the candle at both ends for so long.  
I am going to be honest with you: you are not going to see much of an improvement physiologically in yourself after 2 weeks of intense training so there is no point in going as hard as you can for 14 days only to burn out at the end and see no results or improvements in yourself or your health.  

Instead of killing yourself in your runs and your workouts I suggest  you start back where you were before you became sick (maybe try following this program and adding this strength workout at the end of each run) and use the time you do have to set yourself up for success throughout your summer semester.  If you are going to be half as busy in the summer as it sounds like you are, you are going to need to put in place some solid systems to help you to make the most of your time.  

Take a look at what the next 12 weeks of your schedule are going to look like and set a realistic goal for yourself, ensuring you are allowing time for school, work, family and friends.  Maybe it is training for another 10 mile race or perhaps a shorter distance or maybe you might just have to settle with being consistent with a 4 day a week workout routine.  As I said in Tuesday’s post, do not set unrealistic expectations for yourself and challenge yourself according to what you can fit into your life and to what you are willing to sacrifice.

Use these next two weeks to get everything that you need to help you move towards your goals.  Maybe it is purchasing some new running shoes, finding a yoga studio nearby or researching different workout classes, boot camps or running clubs that you might be able to join.  Also, sit down and write out your workout schedule and put it into your day timer, making it a priority – again be careful that you do not over commit.  Stock your pantry with healthy “on the go” foods, such as my favourite Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Larabars, fill your freezer with frozen fruits for smoothies and frozen chicken breast that can be cooked up for a healthy and quick dinner. Designate a day each week that you will plan your weekly meals and do your grocery shopping (and make sure you have the necessary containers in your cupboards so packing healthy meals to school and to work is easy).  One of my favourite cooking appliances is a slow cooker as it makes eating healthy so easy.  You prepare all of the ingredients for the meal the night before and when you wake up you simply throw it all into the slow cooker, turn it on and when you arrive home you have a hot and nutritious meal waiting for you.

Health should be a lifestyle, not a quick two week fix that you fit in when you can so start to create healthy habits now.  Of course when you do find that you are blessed with a little more time there is nothing wrong with ramping up your activity levels but I think due to the fact that you are coming out of being sick and about to head into a very busy time in your life you need to start slow and gradually work your way up.

Attached - Matthew Morrison running with a friend earlier this week.


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