WEATHER: Chilly (for DC, that is…so maybe 30 degrees)
MILES THIS WEEK: πr^2
WHERE TO: Dupont Circle, Georgetown, etc.
MOOD: Face-’splosion is imminent.
My dear readers, I lost roughly 15 pounds over the weekend. Or, at least, that’s my estimate, and I’m pretty sure that 98% of it was expelled in the form of post-nasal drip. You see, I stayed home from work on Friday and stayed home from life yesterday as the result of a truly fantastically ass-kicking cold. The kind that–if you weren’t doped to the gills on NyQuil (for the congestion) and ketamine (for the hell of it) and nutmeg (for the purpose of testing urban legends) and thus unable to do anything other than pet your roommates’ faces and mutter, “pretty kittyyyyyy…”–would make you sit back, fold your arms, and nod appreciatively at the awe-inspiring power of Mother Nature and Her Evil Pathogen Minions.
Naturally, not having run in 72 hours left me with this uncomfortable, quivering, withdrawal-y feeling. Not the shakes; more this strange sense of being well-rested for the first time in a while. It was strange. I’m not sure I liked it.
So today I got back on the horse, and I will now answer a simple question for you:
SHOULD YOU RUN WHILE YOU’RE SICK?
To start, I called a trusted physician, Dr. Phyllis Schnauzenbonker of Georgetown University Center for the Study of Beautiful Gams.
“Some doctors use the ‘neck rule’ for determining if you should run, which basically amounts to asking where your symptoms are,” said Dr. Schnauzenbonker. “If they are located above your neck–that is, stuffy nose, headache, and so on–go out and run. If they include body aches and chills that wrack your body with shivers and thoughts of punching a wallaby every time you breathe, the rule dictates that you perhaps stay in and don’t run.”
“That,” she continued, “is a load of poppycock.”
To get a better idea of her stance on the topic, she and I sat down to chat at a neighborhood too-cool-for-school coffee joint that shall remain nameless. Below is a transcript of our interview.
Thank you for joining me, Dr. Schnauzenbonker.
My pleasure. Can you get them to turn down the music?
Believe me, I can’t.
Is it always Phil Collins?
Sometimes it’s Paula Abdul.
How ironic of them. So. Shoot.
So what do you think are the main flaws to the so-called “neck rule”?
It advises you not to run at times when you really should be able to just pull up your big-girl panties and gut out your symptoms like a real champion.
Can you give some examples of such symptoms that can be overcome?
Well, take chest congestion, for example. Nothing that a big, unattractive snort, spit, and a farmer’s blow can’t take care of.
That’s pretty gross. And also, not everyone is capable of executing a farmer’s blow.
Let me guess: you’re not. Lemme see.
O God. Can we get a napkin and/or towel over here? And some Lysol?
<wipes nose, shirtfront, and table> Moving on. On what do you base this assessment?
Well, first of all, there was this fascinating study done out of Northeastern Idaho University, where they infected 100 runners with sinus infections and left 100 healthy as Clydesdales on mating day. And then they put all 200 runners on treadmills and made them run and run and run until they were just exhausted as all hell.
All the sinus-infected runners collapsed way before the other ones. But I’m pretty sure they could have yanked on their bootstraps and gone longer.
That is true scientific proof if ever I saw it.
Then there was this other study where scientists put 100 sinus-infected runners in a big glass cage with this set-up where if they hit this little bar they’d get to suckle a dose of Nyquil out of this big glass upside-down bottle like you give to guinea pigs.
What was the finding of this study?
Well, you put a bunch of beautiful runners in a cage and they get all hot and bothered and whatnot for each other. But then the Nyquil takes effect and eventually there’s just a lot of listless floor-writhing. It’s pretty entertaining.
You’re telling me!
So you have a firm grounding in hard scientific fact here.
Well, I also base my opinions on experience. I didn’t win the International Falls, Minnesota January Freeze-Your-Nads-Off 100-Miler without learning one or two things.
You’re THAT Phyllis Schnauzenbonker?
One and the same!
So are there any conditions under which one shouldn’t run while sick?
Yes. I call it the “ladybits rule.” Basically, if you hit the point where every five seconds you are blowing your nose SO HARD that even your ladybits hurt, it’s time to take a breather.
What if you’re a man?
In the long run, women are better runners. Men don’t matter. Screw the patriarchy.
Yes! Screw it right in the ear!
Yes! The left ear!
<Together, just as Phil hits the emotional climax of “Sussudio,” Phyllis and I take pitching wedges to the coffeehouse stereo and stride purposefully outside.>