Sunday, March 9, 2014

On Illness, Consistency, and the Little Things

I live in a college dorm. And, like most college dorms, this one is probably a lot less than sanitary. I'll be the first to admit that I'm pretty sure I've dusted my desk three times (maybe) since moving in. However, I feel that I've done a pretty good job staying healthy. Eating right and keeping clean has been a big help, and I haven't been down and out for a while. Until last week.

I got sick. Real sick, throwing up and barely-breathing sick. So I laid in bed for a solid three days. When I got up, I could barely breath because I have asthma, and illness tend to bypass my throat and and go straight to my lungs. That means that I've been out for over a week. I hate sitting on the sidelines, but I take solace in the fact that I've already put in enough work that coming back, I won't be very far behind.

Having that solace is important. Everyone gets sick, there are few that make it a calendar year without doing so, and being consistent the other 350-odd days that you're not ill is important. It allows you to focus solely on resting and healing instead of worrying about how far behind in your training you'll be.

Consistency is often what makes an athlete. The average Olympian trains six years, 350 days a year until they make it to the Olympic games. Six years, only missing 91 days (including the leap year). If my math is wrong, sue me, I'm a physiology major not a math guy. Regardless, consistency is probably the most potent weapon in an athlete's arsenal and the most important. If you feel a little niggle in your leg, it's probably best to cut the run short than have the problem blossom into a massively damaging, six week on the sideline injury.

That being said, there are a ton of things you can do to ensure that your workouts are as consistent as possible. Eating right, sleeping enough, and trying to be active every day are probably the three most important, but also put an emphasis on the things that could drag you down. Make sure that your environment is one the motivates you to work out (I still have an autographed Craig Alexander poster on my bedroom wall, right where I can see it every day. And even the small negativities, like taking your shoes off the second you walk in the door to minimize the spread of germs can be helpful in ensuring that you have a consistent and bang-on season with minimal time devoted to healing.

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