18th century English doctor in protective beak costume

"Just take three leeches a day, drain a pint of blood from each leg and you'll be back running in no time!"

Though I’m reluctant to show any sign of weakness to my 39,999 competitors in the Paris Marathon, I must admit that I’m sick these days and not running.

The doctor tells me I have bronchitis, so I’m taking antibiotics and a sachet of powder for loosening mucus from the lungs. (Hello ladies!) The day after seeing the doctor, I was at the dentist for some serious drilling under local anaesthetic.

On top of that, since yesterday I’ve had a splitting headache and I’m taking some paracetemol for that. And this cocktail of drugs is making me feel queasy in my stomach, so I’m not eating much and consequently have no energy. This Sunday morning, while my brain and my stomach debated the merits of breakfast, I saw runners and joggers from my kitchen window and I just wanted to shout “Okay! No one else run while I can’t run!”

My doctor didn’t tell me to stop running, thankfully. But one time a French physio treating my injured calf muscle told me: “You should give up running and take up a better sport. Like cycling!”

I suspect my illness dates from about a month ago, when I got wet and cold one rainy Sunday afternoon while strolling around Paris. (I live there. Now read on.) In particular, that draughty spot where I sat in the café of the Louvre, just beside a fire exit, may be the cause.

But maybe my body was still run down from the Dublin Marathon five weeks earlier. I’d emptied the fuel tanks and run hard to finish in a time I was happy with. Perhaps that left me a bit vulnerable to bugs and viruses and the likes. (I was even careful not to get my winter flu vaccine too soon after the race, lest I get the flu from it.)

And from that one could go back further and ask if I overtrained for the Dublin Marathon. Two weeks beforehand, my body crashed like a computer. I could hardly lift a leg. Even the day before the race I was fearing the worst – a long ordeal around the course. Thankfully, I ended up having a good and enjoyable race; perhaps adrenaline kicked in and saw me right.

Of course, no runner will ever admit to overtraining or making any mistake. So I’ll follow the party line: what bad luck I have to be sick! (And I’ll reluctantly rest up until I’m fully recovered.)

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