If Bridget Jones’ iPod had gotten stuck playing Adele’s Someone Like You on repeat for a week, she still wouldn’t have gone through as many Kleenex as I did in the last few days, thanks to the Cold of Doom.
You’re welcome, paper tissue industry.
This whole week, I was home right after work, usually in bed. Tapering was already part of the plan but it came accompanied with one of the worst colds I’ve had in the last few years, just for good measure. So instead of “running less” and “cross training at the gym”, as I had planned back in my healthy days, I ended up running zero and doing nothing instead.
During that time, among other things, I played with the cat, spent daylight hours in my pyjamas, read a lot, slept a decent amount, and perfected the art of feeling sorry for myself. For the first time in the last couple of years, there are more “regular” clothes than running clothes in my laundry hamper. Plus, I’m pretty sure all this extra time I’m spending at home is freaking the cat out a little bit.
All these afternoons of going home after work and not getting changed into running clothes were taking their toll on me. I was (and am) sick of being sick. So yesterday morning, I got out of bed before the sun was up and ran 5k (another clear sign of illness, but a different type). The marathon on Sunday will tell me whether this was a really good or really bad idea but I just couldn’t handle not running anymore.
But more importantly, I ran because I was feeling guilty.
Even though the Cold of Doom was as unexpected as the Spanish Inquisition, I was supposed to be tapering this week anyway. Not running is okay. Not running is expected.
But every time I open my browser there’s some running-related website reminding me that I should get off the couch and run, that I should run on good days and run harder on bad days, that everything is okay if I ran today and yadda yadda yadda. While those sayings are usually inspirational when I can run, they’re like spit on my face when I can’t.
This whole week, as I drove past dozens of runners getting their sweat on every day, I felt a mix of guilt and jealousy. At times I thought I should get out and join them, even if only for 20 minutes, but those thoughts were always quickly kicked to the back of my mind by another coughing or sneezing fit.
Guilt can be a good thing, if you’re really just being lazy. It does get your ass off the couch, it does take your hand off the Pringles container. But sometimes, you have to stay on the couch and, sometimes, that extra salt from the Pringles is a good idea. Like when you’re about to run a marathon and have been attacked by the Cold of Doom.
Luckily, Thursday’s early morning 5k didn’t have a negative impact on how I was feeling. I’m still keeping the paper tissue industry alive and well, with a marathon the day after tomorrow, but I’m not worse than I was before that run and, at this stage, “not worse” is pretty damn good to me. That 5k run helped with my confidence too. I was starting to only sort of remember running like you remember that friend from high school that you only hear from every so often and I needed to make sure I still knew how to properly tie up my shoelaces.
So, for my own reference, and for the sake of everyone else out there torturing themselves with another motivational running quote on Pinterest: it’s okay if you didn’t run today. In some cases, it’s actually the best thing you could have done for yourself today. You smart thing, you. Now eat another Pringle.