Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Italian Tune-Up

At times, I pride myself in being a contrarian when it comes to my health. When I get a chest cold, I like to give myself an "Italian Tune Up".

A what? Well, Wikipedia defines an Italian Tune up as:

... a process whereby the operator of a motor vehicle runs the engine at full load for extended periods in order to burn carbon buildup from the combustion chambers and exhaust system.

A normal person would have climbed into bed. I did that later. Heck, I thought about doing it all afternoon. I went for a ride to the park with my son instead. He's three. He likes his bike with the training wheels. He likes the park.

After dinner, I couldn't shake the feeling of getting out on the bike. I had to do something.

I have been suffering from a chest cold the past few days. At first I thought it was allergies. Meh. This is a cold. I dislike colds.

In order to alleviate some of the symptoms Saturday night, I strapped on the heart rate monitor and pedaled with my heart rate above 150 beats per minute for an hour, I bumped it up above 165 for the last 15 minutes while breathing deeply, blowing out all kinds of phlegm and gunk.

I covered 20 miles on Lincoln's trail network in that hour and scared a group of kids and a guy in a motorized wheelchair in the process. (I ran up on the kids approaching 30mph and then almost ran into the guy on the chair while trying to pass the kids. Sorry about that.)

I felt great for the first half hour after the ride, like my old self. Once my heart rated dropped down to a normal level, I started to cough like I did before the ride, but with more phlegm. I had some 'tussin in an effort to get some sleep.

Yeah, it was sleep, but haphazard at best. I should have crashed the marathon, since I was probably awake from all the coughing.

On the bright side, my throat didn't "itch" today. My nasal passages have cleared up. Did the ride help? I like to think so.

On the other hand: this anecdote is probably the cycling equivalent of "bro-science": my relief is probably due to the cold running its course.

Doesn't mean it didn't feel good pushing myself when I was under the weather.

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