Training When Sick
It is that time of the year again.
I have retired my bike to the basement on the trainer until May when I can head out for an hour and not come home with frozen fingers and toes. The winter run clothing has come out of the closet because the treadmill was only invented for temperatures colder than 15 degrees below zero.
It is also the beginning of cold and flu season. Now if you have kids, it seems like the season never ends. My little one is pretty healthy most of the year, but we do encounter kids with the endless dripping nose or that cough that “just won’t go away”. And if you work in an office, come on, re-circulated air can be a killer.
If you are like me, the winter is when most of your training hours are accumulated. I am talking long, slow training sessions building your base fitness for the upcoming season. You are spending time training specific aeras where you identified a limit during racing season. If you also like me, you don’t want to miss out on a training session, or three.
So when you catch a cold or flu, how do you know when it is alright to continue training or if it is best to take a rest day? There is a defining line when it comes to rest or no rest, the neck.
Symptoms Above the Neck – When a head cold is bogging you down, maybe a runny nose or throat a little sore, it is alright to continue with training at a reduced intensity. The key word, reduced intensity. I don’t like to use zones to relate to training as eveyone definition of ‘Zone 2″ is different, but you need to keep intensity below 65% of your max.
Start your workout and gauge how you are feeling. If your effort level is higher than normal for the intensity, then turn around, head home, and get some rest. If you are feeling alright, then keep going and remember, reduced intensity.
I actually feel better if I can hit the road for a one hour road ride, the trick for me is to take my workout outdoors. Fresh air can do nothing but good for you.
Symptoms Below the Neck – When your symptoms extended below the neck, stomach issues among others, it is wise to skip the training all together. There is evidence that training with symptoms below the neck can comprimise the health of your heart, leading to addtional complications. Take a couple of says off to allow for your body to heal, then see how you feel. Don’t go back to training until the symptoms below the neck have cleared up.
There are times when your body is at a higher risk of picking up a cold or flu; no mom, it is not because I head outside without a jacket. After an intense effort, such as a race or high intensity training session, your immune system is surpressed leading to a high chance of catching that cold your cubical partner has. I have read stories of professional trathletes wearing masks on airplanes on the way home after a race to reduce the risk. Going a little far for me, but being a triahtlete is not my job.
The best way to ensure you do not miss a workout due to an illness is to properly protect yourself during cold and flu season. I am no ‘germ a phobe’, but knowing what I know now, I will do my best to avoid any chance of picking up a virus this winter.
Question: What do you do when you get sick during your training season?