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Running with a cold

The last part of the Cape Three Points Road climb
out of Avoca
I'm trying to gradually increase my training intensity, while taking care not to overtrain as I come back from the right arch injury.  This makes me reluctant to step back when something such as a minor cold comes along.  Since Sunday, my nose has been running, my sinuses are blocked and I'm coughing a lot.  Like most runners, I believe that running with a head cold is unpleasant but not such a big deal.  However, I also believe that it can risk bronchitis, or worse, if the congestion goes to your chest or you get too run down.  The rational thing would be to back off for a few days and avoid hard running and breathing, but that also means less mileage and a slower comeback when the cold may just pass by anyway.

I have never been very good at backing off for illness (or injury).  For many years, my personal rule was that, if I was too ill to run, then I was too ill to work, and because I always wanted to run, I was rarely sick enough to miss work (in fact, I can't ever recall missing a day through illness, though there were probably a few early in my career).  Of course, I was lucky to never suffer a serious illness, though I did run a few times with a high temperature and flu symptoms, and occasionally against medical advice.  It's hard to draw the line.  There's no point in ending up in hospital or worse, but none of us feel 100% every day and I don't want to miss training unnecessarily.

Copa beach
In recent years, I have modified my illness rule to be no running with a temperature.  I have heard a few horror stories of runners collapsing when training or racing with temperatures, and have no desire to join them.

With just a cold to worry about, I set off for this morning's 14.5km road run knowing that it might not be pleasant.  I ran a regular course, but in the opposite direction to usual, making it easier for the early kilometres and back-loading the toughest hill - Avoca's Cape Three Points Road.  It was yet another beautiful warm sunny morning as I crossed the lagoon sand bar to McMasters Beach and cruised along the shaded Scenic Highway.  After a few kilometres, I spied another runner up ahead and thought I might catch them, but wasn't running fast enough and suddenly they had disappeared.  The first hill elevated my cold symptoms, and I was soon coughing, hawking and wheezing as I struggled up the climb.  My head felt stuffed up and I was sweating profusely around the eyes, a tell-tale sign of sinus problems for me.

Despite all that, I was moving better than a week ago, and it really was a beautiful morning for a run.  Even the first part of the Cape Three Points Road hill wasn't too bad, but the hill has a concave shape, meaning it gets steeper as you get higher, and I really struggled up the last part, spluttering all the way.  The reward, of course, was the run down the other side into Copa with it's magnificent coastal views, and the icing on the cake was a brief stop on the beachfront to watch a whale wallowing just beyond the surf break a hundred metres from shore.  I finished in 1:17, which was an acceptable time, two days after a hard long run, and the good news was that  my right arch injury was barely noticeable (though my right calf muscle had a tender spot).