I planned on taking a down week before starting my 16-week training cycle for the California International Marathon. What I wasn’t planning was taking this much of a down week. This week was just one of those weeks where a perfect storm of factors made for very little running: illness, poor air quality, and a heat wave.
I was sick with a chest cold on Sunday of last week through Tuesday of this week, and the symptoms lingered through the end of the week. On Wednesday, a heat wave began and smoke from the wildfires in Canada began to waft down through the Seattle area. On Thursday, reports said our air quality was worse than that of highly polluted cities such as Beijing. The smoke is only a minor annoyance, and I am grateful that we are not dealing with wildfires here, but I still didn’t want to risk re-irritating the sore throat and chest cold that I had just overcome.
Monday: Sick day
I woke up with my chest cold from Sunday still present and I was in no mood to run. My appetite was still lacking, my throat and chest were aching, and I had low energy. Even after I drugged myself up with ibuprofen and cold/flu medicine, I didn’t want to run and just delay my body’s recovery. Thank goodness that I work from home and do not need to take sick days, but it took all of my energy to simply walk the dogs and do coaching work.
I feel like illness is more noticeable for us runners. I honestly did not feel ill enough to take a sick day from work, but I felt crummy enough to know not to run. It’s feeling bad enough not to run that makes the difference and almost makes feeling under the weather more apparent.
I also napped for almost an hour and woke up to Ollie staring at me, quaking with excess energy, probably wondering why we hadn’t gone for a run at all in a few days.
Tuesday: Sick day
I was on the upswing with a bit more energy, but the continued chest discomfort and sore throat indicated I was not well enough to run. I’d rather rest an extra day when I still feel the symptoms in my throat and chest than to prolong the illness and have a string of crappy runs. If it’s a head cold, sure, I’ll run through it, but I’m a strict abider of the “throat and below” rule for resting while sick.
I also could not take another dosage of cold/flu medicine, because it was making my stomach feel off (a common problem I have with cold medicine), so I switched to these Burt’s Bees Cough Drops. These made life so much better.
Wednesday: 30 minute run
We had a thick haze settle in on top of a heat wave. When wildfires occur in Canada, the smoke drifts down into the Seattle area, especially Snohomish County (north of Seattle). The air felt thick and smoggy and just got worse as the day progressed. Thankfully, Ollie and I got out for our run early. I set my watch to show just a timer and ran for 30 minutes.
Thursday: 30 minute run & 20 minutes Pilates
Poor Charlie danced with excitement in front of the door as we laced up our shoes, but the combination of the heat and poor air quality from the wildfire smoke would be too much for his short puggle snout. Ryan, Ollie, and I did another 30 minute run by time and effort.
You could feel the smoke in the air on the run, as well as see it. It looked like fog, but felt thicker than fog and harder to breathe. When the sun rose, it shone red from the thick veil of haze. I hope any Canadian or PNW readers stayed safe with the smoke out there.
Friday: 4 mile treadmill fartlek
We opted for the treadmill rather than running in the poor air quality – the reports said the air quality in our area was downright unhealthy. I just recovered from being sick and I do not want to get sick again, but I didn’t want to skip a run. my legs were feeling ready to run hard.
My legs were feeling ready to run hard, so I ran one of my favorite fartlek workouts: 3 repeats of 1 minute hard, 1 minute easy, 1 minute hard, 1 minute easy, 2 minutes hard, 2 minutes easy. I ran at 8.8-9.0 for the fast intervals and the time on the treadmill passed by far more quickly than I anticipated. My knee hurt a bit near the end of the run, because I think my form deteriorates on the treadmill.
Saturday: 3.3 mile hike
The smoke was so thick that we could see only the outline of the mountains in the distance. We hiked along a segment of the Pacific Crest Trail to Lake Valhalla. We started our hike at noon, which was probably later than we should have due to the heat. We had to stop a few times to let the dogs rest and drink water.
We encountered the strangest thing we have ever seen on a hike. We paused to snap some photos over a canyon and as we were fishing our phone out of the side pouches, a military-style jet whizzed by, at most 500 feet over our heads. Both Ryan and I froze as the dogs cowered, and then before we could recompose, another jet rushed by. The noise shook us enough, as did wondering exactly why two jets were flying so low through the mountains. We then recalled that there was an air show in 80 miles away in Seattle, but hearing jets that closely was still jarring.
Lake Valhalla was stunning. We spent the afternoon playing in the water with the dogs and relaxing in the shadow of the mountains. Backpacking trips are utterly relaxing.
Sunday: 3 mile hike
We awoke to swarms of bugs outside our tent. I think that was about the quickest we ever went from sleeping to hiking back down the trail – less than 90 minutes for coffee, breakfast, filtering more water, and packing up our campsite. The hike down was gentle and easy, and most of all, Ollie behaved the best he has on a hike so far.
How was your week in running?
Do you run by time or distance?