Over-training or the Flu?

So my week went like this:

Tuesday: I worked out at the gym having taken nearly a month off. I pushed myself to levels of which I knew I shouldn’t have attempted, but it felt good to be back in the gym again. See, I’m a bit abnormal in the fact that I love lifting weights and dislike doing cardio (indoors at least, cause I love mountain biking or hiking). Many of my friends are the other way around, and I know plenty of people who maintain a gym membership for the cardio aspect alone. So when I take a few weeks off from working out, I want to get back into a routine as quickly as possible – not smart. I’ve been working out (off and on) for well over a decade now. Granted there were times in university when I’d give it up for months at a time, but generally it’s simply been a part of who I am – meaning I should know better than to over-train.

Wednesday: Started feeling a bit ‘out of it’ but figured it was just my lack of sleep the night before. By Wednesday afternoon I knew something was wrong, but figured I had just pushed myself a bit too hard in the gym. However, when I got home I started getting aches and chills, with the onset of a slight fever. Once again, these are classic symptoms of over-training as well. I took some pain killers and slept it off.

Thursday: Made it to work but was definitely useless throughout the entire day, and couldn’t focus as I was still masking a fever with pain killers. At this point I was feeling worse and started wondering if I has a strong cold or the flu instead of over-training. By Thursday night I was absolutely miserable. Couldn’t sleep much throughout the night, which just made things worse. My fever held at around 102 (39) but didn’t get any higher.

Friday: Knew I couldn’t go to work, so I stayed home and drugged myself up watching the rest of the season one of “24”. The fever wasn’t even going away with 1000mg of Panadol at this point, and my head was pounding like I’ve never felt before. There’s no way this was a common cold, but it’s been years since I’ve had the flu – and I couldn’t remember how that felt. I decided I should finally get to the doctor. He literally laughed at me when I asked if there’s any chance it could be bird flu – so is that Indonesian for “yes, you will die soon” or “not a chance”. He quickly responded with, “If you had bird flu, you would have been dead yesterday and wouldn’t be standing in front of me now.”. What a warm human being.

They took my blood, and the results showed a very strong immune system with no problems at all – meaning he couldn’t give me anything to get better, cause I simply had the flu. Finally I asked for some stronger pain killers and maybe something to help me sleep. I’ve never tried a sleeping pill in my life, but it didn’t even work – maybe I need to double the dosage. Once I got home, I checked out the painkiller on the ‘net. Oddly enough, the drugs he gave me were specifically marketed towards menstrual pain!?! Yes, they have the effect of killing pain overall, but were targeted towards menstrual cramps. Who cares cause they sure helped!

Saturday: Finally, the fever has subsided and I’m feeling a bit better. I know I won’t be feeling like myself for a couple of days still, but I’m MUCH better than yesterday.

So here’s my theory:

Lifting weights is, by nature, a process involving the breakdown and rebuilding of your muscles. When you work out too hard or over-train, you can greatly reduce your immune system’s capabilities in the short term – therefore opening your body up to viruses, etc that you normally may be able to fight off. Whether or not this is the case in what happened to me, I do know that if you’re going to take time off from working out, you should really ease back into your routine. This is advice that I’ve never taken. I always tend to push myself harder than I should, and I guess combined with the fact that I’m getting older and living in a place that has many different ‘bugs’ that our cool-climate bodies aren’t used to, you just have to take a bit better care of yourself.

I’ve noticed that ‘colds’ or things like that are a bit different here. It seems that because of the fact we’re in air conditioning most of the day, it’s easier for germs to become circulated and spread to others. For me, at least, when I get a cold here in Indonesia, it seems to hit harder than in the States, but only for a few days versus the usual week or more. Many Indonesian doctors also remark that germs and viruses are different here than in N. America – is there truth in that?

All I know, is that it’s not too cool to get the ‘regular’ flu, when I’m living only miles from the past outbreak of the bird flu virus – it definitely makes you re-think your priorities.

“If you haven’t got your health, you haven’t got anything.” – The Princess Bride