Never having flu before I was completing taken by surprise at how severe it hit my whole body. After being in bed with no appetite for nine days and nights I finally began to feel much better. I lost eight pounds which was mostly muscle and I was told by numerous people that my skin looked grey. However, I felt ready to get out, back on my bike and in the pool – “Start from where I left off.”
I quickly realised that this wasn’t going to happen. Once I was out walking I felt a bit breathless which increased when I began going up any stairs. I also noticed that my resting heart beat was way above normal from 42 bpm to 53 bpm. So, I drew up my three week recovery plan which was all based on staying at talking pace zone one and two with a gradual increase of speed and power in week two and three.
I am all too aware that stopping exercising for up to a fortnight can be tough for those of you preparing for your major events this coming season. I am also conscious that some of you may think that if you miss your training due to illness that it’s a disaster. The tendency is to rush back as quickly as possible to where you were before being ill. Please be careful and remember the quality of your training is more important that struggling through quantity. Training too hard when you’re not 100% well isn’t going to give you that quality and will give you what we call dead miles.
I am conscious that everyone’s recovery from flu or any illness is unique and there is no hard and fast rule for when to return to exercise. However, if you draw up a two or three week plan it will help reassure you that you will get back to the quality of training you are used to and be back on track.
I have no scientific evidence but I have lots of anecdotal evidence of members who have correctly recovered coming back stronger and fitter. Whatever you do, don’t try to make up for lost time by pushing too hard, too soon, as you will be struggling for a lot longer that if you had a recovery plan which is self monitored on how you feel during and after each session.
Finally, proper recovery is necessary during this phase in terms of food, rest days and more sleep. I found that my body was crying out for me to go to bed much earlier than I normal go.
I am now on my third week and feel stronger, fitter and back to a normal sleep pattern. I feel so much better and optimistic at being back on track very soon.