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It was only a week, but I was on a roll. Speed-training, followed by swimming, followed by a tempo run, followed by rowing – I felt great! All that was left of my first week of training under the FIRST program was to get my fast-paced 14-miler in this past weekend.

So much for planning.

I started to feel a little off Friday night, a little tickle in my throat.

By Saturday I was full-blown sick – my head hurt, my nose was congested and runny, I was coughing like a pack-a-day smoker, and my lungs were completely waterlogged. I had to bail on a bowling date with my little one, sending Jess in my stead. I slept all day, hoping that I could lick this thing in 24 hours. With a little luck, I’d get my 14-miler in on Sunday morning and then it was off to my older one’s birthday party.

So much for luck.

I woke on Sunday feeling worse than I had on Saturday. Not only did I not get my run in, but I missed my baby’s party – it just didn’t seem fair to expose her friends to my illness, especially since I was still hacking away.

It’s only one run that I’ve missed so far, but honestly, I still feel like crap and I’ve got another round of speed work scheduled for tomorrow – 3 x 1200m at 10K pace minus 40-45 seconds. If I feel like this tomorrow, there is no shot that gets done.

What if this thing lingers?

What if I get better, but the fatigue doesn’t go away?

At what point do I cut my losses and choose to walk away from Sugarloaf and race another day?

This has been a strange winter to be sure here in the northeast. According to the news we’ve received 8 inches of snow this year. That’s down from over 80 inches last winter and an annual average of about 40 inches. Yet during this mildest of winters I have been sick more times than I have over the last 3 or 4 winters combined. It has not helped my running to say the least, but I think I may know why it has been happening…

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Oink

– My wife’s Facebook status on Wednesday afternoon

I spent the majority of Thanksgiving Week running from the pigs.

They came for my younger daughter Saturday night, then for my wife on Monday night and finally for my older daughter on Wednesday night. No, I wasn’t being chased by the police. I haven’t called a cop a ‘pig’ since high school. OK, maybe since college, but I digress.

I was running from the swine flu. Wednesday night we had three girls down.  I was the last family member standing.  Our Thanksgiving plans to visit family had been laid to waste.  I scrambled last minute to find a Turkey and all the trimmings. All week I was thinking one thing – with the rest of the family out of commission, I could NOT get sick. My wife had been hit especially hard and was pretty much bedridden.  My older daughter (too young to take care of the household anyway) was just entering the worst of it. I had to make sure that the piggies couldn’t get me.

I firmly believe that breaking a major sweat goes a long way toward boosting your immune system. So starting last Monday, I ran.  Not away from my family – they needed me to take care of them. No, I ran away from the flu.  Every day, I ran. Whether it was my quick 5K sprint on Thanksgiving Day morning or my slower but longer 10 mile runs on the dreadmill – er treadmill – I was determined to break a major sweat every day.  I was going to make my body an inhospitable place for any little pigs who might want to take up residence.

I ran more miles this week than I have in any of the weeks in the past several months.

My legs…are…tired.

But you know what? It worked. At this point, as I write, the girls have all come out of the depths of swine and we are pretty much back to normal. Knock on wood, I am swine-free.

Is running the cure to the H1N1 virus? No, absolutely not. But I do think that it helped reduce the effects it had on my body. There is no way that I wasn’t exposed to it. I will admit now that I woke up both Wednesday and Thursday mornings with pounding headaches and I went to bed both of those nights with a very, very slight case of the sniffles, but it never got worse than that. The sniffles were gone each morning and the headaches went away with breakfast and coffee.

So if you feel a chill coming on or your nose is starting to drip, this is my prescription: Run once a day – either hard for 30 minutes or at an easier pace for 60 – 90 minutes. Either way, break a sweat – a real sweat.

You’ll thank yourself for it later.

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