Train through illness or pull a sickie?

Today I’ve had to pull a sickie on myself. Crohn’s disease in my gut means that my body acts like a barometer for external pressures, and a couple of tremendously tough days at work has left me tied in a knot through the middle. I could only manage half an hour of running yesterday. I missed my favourite ride this morning. It was painful to walk home from the station after work this evening. So I’ve called it: I need a rest day.

But there’s a huge level of pressure, and guilt, creeping in. I shouldn’t be resting this close to our race. I should be loading up on training, chucking the sessions in the bank so that come race day, I can say I’ve done everything I can to perform at my best. But right now, it hurts just to stand up. So there’s no way I’m running/riding/swimming anywhere today. And I know that the rest will be more valuable to me. I need to stop reporting to the athlete inside me for the day, and tune back into the human being who is walking along a very fine line between health and illness.

I try to think of training as a job, so that I don’t miss sessions, and so that I pay my training schedule the respect that it deserves. Approaching sessions like a job means that you can’t not turn up. But writing this whilst at the same time pulling a sickie from training probably demonstrates that I’m not the best employee when it comes to training…

I also have to treat my illness as a job sometimes; there’s appointments, follow-ups, blood-tests, scans, MRIs, ultra-sounds, colonoscopies (my FAVOURITES. Jokes), infusions, prescriptions etc. You have to organise your life and manage your symptoms. And you have to prioritise your illness job over and above your training job. Because if the illness job gets miss-managed, you can kiss goodbye to your training job.

And then, of course, there’s my job. Which I am legally bound and contracted to treat like a job. This job is the big one, and all other fun bits of life are dependant on this one running smoothly.

But the funny thing is, each of my three ‘jobs’ seems to hang in a very fragile triangular balance. And as soon as one is applying more pressure, the other two are knocked off kilter; when my job-job is throwing rocks at me, my illness-job stops running so smoothly, which means I miss a couple of shifts at my training-job. When my training-job is working me to the bone at 20 hours a week, I struggle to stay awake at my job-job…

On the upside, pulling a sickie on myself today means I can get some rest and clock-in early tomorrow for training. If only training paid decent overtime.

Finally, I trawled google-image’s best finds to try and get a suitable image to capture the theme of this post. But all I could find were people hunched over and looking sad. So I decided to go with a couple of shots that I have taken of me slacking off from my illness job and eating bad stuff that doesn’t alleviate the problem (like I said: bad employee)…

Me plus Bad Guy

Me plus Bad Guy

Bad Guy

Bad Guy


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13 thoughts on “Train through illness or pull a sickie?

  1. Train…in moderation! I just found your blog (thanks for visiting mine) and am amazed you are about to complete an Ironman!! I would like to do a half-ironman one day but I don’t know if I am crazy enough to attempt a full. I can’t wait to read more and hear about your training and the race.

  2. Karla says:

    OMG – Love the royal wedding mug!

  3. poseyplays says:

    You “only” ran a half hour!? 🙂 I know you’re in training and probably doing a lot more than that, but that still sounds really great to me!! Crohn’s is so hard! Hang in there — sometimes REST is a part of training!

    • You’re absolutely right. Sometimes it’s easy to forget how hard you’ve been pushing yourself, and accept that it’s ok to take a breather for the benefit of your health – the rest is absolutely part of the training!

      • poseyplays says:

        I did a marathon 10 years ago and it was HARD. H.A.R.D. I am glad I did it but I have no desire to do it again. 🙂 Good luck!

      • There is nothing easy about a marathon. Oh boy. I am certainly not looking forward to that leg of the Ironman. But at least the you’re in the final THIRD. OMG that sounds ridiculous, what am I doing?? Hahaha… thanks for stopping by 🙂

  4. AndrewGills says:

    It’s better to turn up at the start line undertrained than over injured. (Someone else’s line not my creation)

    Remember to enjoy running and training. Unless you derive income from it, enjoyment as priority is fundamental to longevity in the sport. An experienced trail runner with decades of involvement in the sport told me he sees talented athletes run for 2-3 seasons then burn out. But those who take a Month off every summer (our off-season) & rest when they are unwell stay in the sport much longer.

    • You’re totally spot on. I took 8 weeks off and de-conditioned a little before we signed up for Ironman, so I definitely felt rested and ready to start winding it up again. I can’t wait for April to have some extended recovery!!!

  5. bgddyjim says:

    Don’t forget the recovery ride for those days where your legs are protesting a bit. You point out something funny about fitness… When I started this exercise dealio, I didn’t realize that I’d have to learn how to juggle too.

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