Chest infection – again

My Achilles heels, if you know what I mean. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Pearson Scott Foresman)

My Achilles heels? (Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Pearson Scott Foresman)

Just as I’ve got over my slight injury, another setback has hit my running.

I’ve got a chest infection, says the doctor. It’ll be another week at least before antibiotics clear it up and I can run again.

What’s frustrating is that I had a chest infection only a few months ago – in November, after the Dublin Marathon when my immune system was at a low ebb. And the year before that, I had a touch of bronchitis.

This has me worried that my lungs – important for running and also slightly essential for life in general – are something of a weakness for me. I don’t smoke, I’m not asthmatic and I don’t have any allergies or chronic respiratory conditions. But for some reason the ol’ windbag keeps letting me down.

What this current relapse means for my running in the short-term is that I’ll sit out this week completely and then see how things stand next weekend. I’m doing two 10km races during March and April, but I had also been thinking of entering a half-marathon in Dublin in the middle of April. This seems unlikely now – even if I start training next weekend, that only gives me 8 weeks of preparation, including a one-week taper.

And as I’d be starting my training from a low base, that would make a mid-April half-marathon something of a trudge. I wouldn’t get near my personal best time and I wouldn’t do myself justice.

So what happened this time? Well, I had a heavy cold in my head last weekend, which appeared to spread to my chest during the week. At work I was letting out some rasping coughs that surprised even the smokers among my colleagues.

By Friday evening my harsh, gunky cough was being accompanied by general wheeziness, so I knew then that I had something more serious than a cold in my chest. In the same spirit of common sense and early action that saw me head to the physio recently at the onset of a minor niggle, yesterday morning I went to the doctor.

Now, my doctor got me through a pre-race stomach bug in time to run a personal best at the Dublin Marathon last October, so I know that she is sound on the running question. Mulling on my recurring chest infection, the doctor wondered if my move home from Paris left me susceptible to the damper climate in Dublin. She also speculated that having carpets at home meant I was inhaling a lot of dust and other unsavoury particles.

I’m not sure that either of those theories are at the root of my respiratory problems. The southern half of France has drier air that Ireland, but Paris is further north and climatically isn’t too different to Dublin. Besides, the air quality in the Paris metro is poor – you’re inhaling micro-particles of metal, for instance – so the sea breezes of Dublin should be an improvement.

As for carpets, surely wood and tile floors also have their share of dust.

I suspect that the solution lies in my immune system. Last year’s move home and hard running took a lot out of me, and perhaps I haven’t taken enough care to recharge the batteries completely. As a long-term remedy, I’ll start taking some multivitamins and that old favourite of distance runners, echinacea.

And while I’m off my feet I can continue with the foam-rolling and stretches I got from the physio, so that my eventual return to running will be sustained and injury-free.

I just want to get back running again!

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16 Responses to Chest infection – again

  1. WalkToRio says:

    Hope you recover quickly so you can follow your race schedule.

  2. Sam says:

    Get well soon, I hope your back on form soon.

  3. 11315miles says:

    Get well soon.

  4. Aidan says:

    An exceptionally mild and damp winter so far is, I reckon, responsible for a lot of coughs and colds. Similar doses doing the rounds in the college I work in since November. Almost unavoidable!

    • Run and Jump says:

      That’s true too – even the pharmacist said the same thing to me when I went to get my prescription. I was the fourth person in her pharmacy that morning with the same condition and same prescription!

  5. Sorry you are sick! I hope this week with no running goes by fast. Feel well.

  6. Red Hen says:

    I know what a bummer it is to get recurrent injury/illness in the midst of training. I`m not asthmatic either but I`ve had more chest infections since I started running. I find the very cold air and fog aggravate my lungs. I hope you find the source of your troubles. Hopefully its just an adjustment thing from France to Ireland.

    • Run and Jump says:

      Now that I think of it, this winter in Ireland has been mild and damp compared to recent dry winters in Paris, so maybe that and general run-down-ness are the issues.

      Whatever the reason, I’ll get over it by next week – and the rest might do me good!

  7. John Reid says:

    Taking antibiotics for a chest infection should be avoided unless it’s pneumonia as the infection is viral not bacterial.

    The Antibiotics will not solve anything and will make you more susceptible to illness in the future.

  8. SA Runner says:

    I’ve been having the same issues every year since running marathons and ultra-marathons. I’m from South Africa and we have dry cold Winters in the North of South Africa so I don’t think the damp weather is the issue but rather the cold air that causes an irritation in your chest, which causes mucus to build up and traps all the bacteria and starts the infection. In South Africa most of the marathon runners train for the Comrades ultra-marathon (about 89km) and on average train between 50km and 120km a week which might include a marathon every second week but at least every month for 5 months leading up to the Comrades. I suspect that sleep and recovery is a big part of keeping your immune system strong coupled with a good diet but I found that immune boosters like Intragam injections every three months makes a difference. Speak to your Doctor about it.

    • Run and Jump says:

      Thanks – definitely sleep and recovery help, as my doctor says that when the body is weakened the lungs are the first thing to become vulnerable.

      I’d love to do Comrades sometime: through the Marathon Talk podcast and elsewhere I’ve heard so much about it!

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