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06-02-2023 | Eveline van der Hek

I'm sick of it

Like half of the country, I wasn't sick all winter. For someone who rarely has a cold, I was quite bummed when I did catch a respiratory infection in November. It turned out to be the beginning of a long process.

Always good to have a load of COVID tests in stock, but each time I happily scored negative. I also actually have no idea if covid bothers you more these days than other viruses. Anyway, I spent a long weekend snoozing exhaustedly under my comforter on the couch. On Tuesday I felt like I had a 'normal' cold again, and then it's best to work. And riding a Zwift race in the evening, because the team is counting on you. To be honest, that went pretty well and I felt like I was on the mend. Fortunately, I had only missed two training sessions.


Looking back now, in early February, I wonder how I could have thought that back then. After all, I kept having full cavities and four weeks later both my body and the thermometer indicated I had a fever. The comforter once again became my best friend and I decided to switch off for a bit longer this time. The advice is not to exercise for one to three days after a day of fever. The day before Christmas, four were up and I joined a club endurance ride. I did have three shortcuts figured out so I could drop out in between and paddle back with the wind at my back. But it went okay, only my heart rate was a bit higher than normal and after 95 kilometers I was back home without shortcuts.

The holidays I continued to ail. We traditionally spend the days around New Year's Eve at Lemelerberg. My gravel bike was with me and I was eager to try a new route. I had saved up energy all week and enough gusto to compensate for the lack of fitness. After three hours, desire and energy were completely gone and I had 5 kilometers to go. What a setback when you are used to spending hours on your bike. This activated a little voice telling me I was burping backwards. Shut up! Even though you're right. If you don't train for two weeks you will lose some form, but not much. If you hardly ride a bike for two weeks and you're sick, you're burping backwards. Simple. Not fun, but true.

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On January 1, we visited my mother-in-law in the nursing home. For the first time in a long time, I decided to use a face mask again. Call it a hunch because a day later the home issued the warning that several viruses were circulating. An announcement for my third virus party. The cocktail this time included all the symptoms of the previous six weeks added together. Fever, inflamed maxillary sinuses, headache and endless fatigue. I dare not say whether it was the extended version of one and the same virus or whether a new guest kept visiting. I do dare say that I rushed through my post unforeseen in eight weeks in triplicate. And also that confidence disappeared down the drain hand in hand with my fitness.

In the end

I actually lost track a bit. How do you recognize a virus from which it is best to keep training and a virus from which it is better to stay sick? And when are you sufficiently bled out and does training contribute to building up again instead of breaking down? Monitoring my resting heart rate, eating healthy and getting enough sleep were apparently not enough. An Internet search, listening to podcasts about this and asking experts by experience didn't give me unequivocal answers either. I decided for myself that it is better to take two days "too much" rest than one day too little. That that one Zwift race and that one endurance ride did not make me better. Maybe even worse.

And now? After those extra days of rest, I went skiing for a few days. Since two weeks I have picked up training again. I can do a hundred kilometers of gentle gravel riding again, but my wattages on the road bike are, logically, lower than two months ago. Now I have to accept that my form is what it is and trust that smart training will help me reach my goals for this year. In two months the longest distance of the High Mass is scheduled, followed by the Mallorca312, The Ride and the Flatlands300. Pretty ambitious, but performance goals I'm not going to set for now. I'm going for finishing and above all enjoying very hard. Fortunately, I never have to train for the latter.

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