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Is Getting Sick an Exercise in Discipline?

If you’re an athlete (or want to be) getting sick can feel like someone just threw up a giant blockade in your road to success.

I don’t get sick very often. In fact, I get sick at a rate of about once every 2-3 years. The problem is that when I do get sick I get taken down, and I mean hard. That was what happened a few weeks ago when I noticed I had picked up a little cough and it quickly turned into fever, chills, fatigue and the whole deal. I was down for the count.

Getting sick can feel like someone just dropped
these in the middle of your road to progress.

Of course this happened just as I was getting started in a new training cycle and making some great progress. This is where many people start getting in trouble. Why?

They try to keep training. Most of us probably had the same experience in our 20s where we would get sick and then go for a run or perform some other type of exercise and actually get better more quickly. Unfortunately if you’re in your forties that party is over. The problem is no one told you. So you keep trying to party. And then you fall over.

Do you want to know the worst part? Two weeks before this I injured my shoulder! Fortunately I know enough about rehab that I was able to fix it pretty quickly, Right before getting sick. So, for me the temptation to try and train through being sick was pretty big, but instead I decided I needed to be discipline and let my body recover.

When we think about discipline we don’t usually think about it in the context of laying on the couch, but sometimes that’s exactly what it is. If you’re hurt or sick and you try to keep pushing through it, odds are good you’re only going to make matters worse, and ultimately knock yourself out of training much longer than you needed to be.

Yes, discipline is definitely a factor when it comes to pushing yourself in your workouts, but this may help with some contextual re-framing to understand how it also applies to scenarios where we need to stop pushing and learn to be disciplined about our long term health and recovery.

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