by Oliver Evans
Often it’s difficult to listen to what your body is telling you, especially if you’re particularly motivated.
During my first training and racing block of the year, I started to feel really tired really quickly. I’m not sure why. I pushed through and raced and trained. By Redlands, I was still really tired and ended up racing for time cut every day before pulling the plug in the final stage only 25 km in. I was tired and starting to feel a little sick.
I decided to take 5 days off the bike after the race and drive home along the coast with a friend. Five days seemed like a reasonable amount of time, and the trip would force me to take some time away from the bike both physically and mentally. I was extremely motivated to start training hard the second I got home.
During the trip I lost my appetite and by the end my scratchy throat that I woke up with on the final day of Redlands had become very sore and swollen, along with my neck. I had a constant headache and woke up on the last night unable to move my head. As soon as I got back to Canada I went to a clinic to take advantage of our excellent healthcare and figure out what was up.
There was a good chance I had strep so the doctor wrote me a prescription for penicillin to fill as soon as I heard back from the lab in two days time. I didn’t hear back though, and figured I just had a little virus and would be fine.
Despite being as sick as I was, the weather was fantastic and I was back with my friends in my favourite place in the world. I couldn’t resist the temptation to ride. Generally, a ride with friends will always be a little competitive. Me being me, I couldn’t hold back and did some hard efforts racing my regular training buddies. At the end of the ride I felt terrible.
Pushing hard when you’re sick and tired generally isn’t a good idea. After riding poorly in the first part of the season, all I wanted to do was train hard and get faster. I tried to take it easy and only rode a few more times the week after seeing a doctor. I actually started to feel a bit better and raced a crit this past Sunday. However, the effort of the crit brought back a few symptoms and I found out the following day (this past Monday) that I did in fact have strep. At this point, I was leaving for Winston-Salem in two days time and determined that starting on antibiotics would be unwise so close to the race.
In hindsight, I should have just shut it down and put my feet up when I got home. I’m also extremely mentally fatigued, which is all the more reason to rest up. I was too excited to be with friends and enjoy my favourite roads in perfect weather to justify proper rest. I think I made a bit of a rookie mistake over the past couple weeks.
Rest when you’re sick. Rest when you’re tired. Rest when you’re sick and tired. Take it from me.
Oliver Evans is a 19-year-old cyclist from Winnipeg, who is currently based in Victoria. He races on the road with H&R Block Pro Cycling.