Just coming off the high spirits from the birthday ride Sunday — happy to have finished almost a metric century — unsupported — feeling great — I felt it coming on late Monday morning. It started as a headache. Then my sinuses clogged. Then I got a tickle in my throat. As the day wore on, the tickle went away, and an aching rawness replaced it. I medicated myself before bed, and turned in early.
Tuesday it was worse. I slogged my way through the work day, came home and repeated the ritual from the night before. But I must have been more out of it than I thought. When I got home, taking my Tuesday after-work ride was out of the question. After eating, I flopped in front of the TV, never to move until bedtime. I forgot to post something on the blog. I never forget to blog. I worry sometimes (often) that I don’t have anything worth blogging about, but I manage to post some drivel or other.
Then I started looking ahead to the weekend. Now that I’ve broken out of my 40-mile ride limit, can I keep it up? Can I do something over 40, even if it’s not as far as a metric? What if I’m still under the weather when Friday and Saturday roll around?
It’s a question I used to wrestle with when I was a jogger. From time to time, I would do a run with a head cold, and no ill effects seemed to result. But I don’t recall ever going on a bike ride when feeling bad.
The answer is, as is often the case: “It depends.” Dr. Edward Laskowski of the Mayo Clinic says exercising with a head cold can be beneficial. It can open up clogged nasal passages. But the good doctor does qualify his remarks. First, he says, exercise is fine if the illness is “above the neck.” That is, a head cold shouldn’t prevent a person from a workout. Second, that workout should be shorter and less intense than usual. But if your malady is below the neck — chest congestion, hacking cough, upset stomach — fuhgeddaboudit. Exercising with a fever is out of the question, because it can further elevate your already heightened body temperature and make you sicker.
In my case, I feel some fatigue in my body besides my head cold symptoms, so I’m going to lie low. And I’ll take some solace from Dr. Laskowski. He says taking a few days off shouldn’t adversely affect my performance when I resume cycling. So I’m just going to kick back, take some of that codeine-laced cough syrup (yum!) and plan on being back on the roads Friday or Saturday.