by ALP Cycles Coach, Brianna Walle
Winter is in full force and base-miles and intensity are increasing. With the increased training, cold weather training conditions and all the viruses that are floating around, the body is often put into a suppressed immune state. The same formula occurs in season, with big racing blocks, added life stress and travel….point being, we are human and we will get sick. This weeks’ blog post is about what to do (or not to do) when sick.
Some basic rules:
Rule #1. Your Health is #1, always. Period.
Rule #2 Be HONEST with yourself, both physically and mentally with how you are feeling. Acceptance of being sick and taking action towards getting healthy is the hardest thing to admit. Nothing is more annoying than being in denial about your health or having others (especially in a team environment) be in denial as well. Do yourself the favor, and be vulnerable and courteous to yourself and others.
Rule #3: communicate openly with your coach- even if you feel like you *might* be getting sick, include your coach in the conversation. You’ve hired your coach to mentor you, and your health status dictates the direction of training once you’re feeling better.
…………………………………………………So, how does one tell if they are or getting sick??
First off, if you experience any of the below symptoms, you are sick and warrants time off the bike and NO TRAINING:
Fever, chills, clamminess or “off” body temp (ie: sweating when you’re cold)
Scratchy or sore throat when swallowing
Excess mucous or pressure in lungs
Aches in the body, general weakness
Changes in resting HR (if you keep track, take note of resting HR in the AM when healthy as baseline. If HR is elevated more than 5%, there’s a good chance your body is tired and/or fighting a bug.)
No training means NO: riding, running, lifting, skiing, hiking, backpacking, or extensive walking, anything that demands any kind of strength or stamina
Some other helpful tips to battle illness (or if you’re shutting down the onset of illness):
Increase your water and hydration and sleep and rest as much as possible.
Increase Vitamin’s A and D (through supplements and nutrition)- Vitamin A- orange veggies (Beta carotene)- is a bacterial fighter. Supplement 5,000-10,000 mg’s per day for one week when not feeling well. Vitamin D is a Viral fighter and helps with hormone production (amongst other things) and bone rebuilding. It’s important to supplement and take with meals so it can be absorbed with fat. 5,000mg’s a day for 1-2 weeks. Fish, salmon, trout, sunlight, some diary. Colloidal silver is a great supplemet to take at the first sign of illness.
Drop sugar levels as low as possible and eat lots of fruits and veggies.
During the process of resting, keep your coach updated of your symptoms and progress. Remember Rule #2, be honest with yourself and your coach.
Once you’re feeling better, a typical schedule might include the below:
One day away from any of the your symptoms: Recovery pace 30-60 min
Two days away from any of the your symptoms: Recovery pace 60-90 min
Three days away from any of the above symptoms: Endurance training, up to 2 hrs (if you’ve been sick for longer, you might need more recovery rides before entering endurance)
Four days away from any of the above symptoms: Talk to your coach about how to return to your regular training program
Our number 1 concern as athletes is that taking time off means decrease in fitness and derails your game plan, but remember you can take 10 days off the bike before losing fitness. The sooner you can address your health, the faster you can come up with a game plan to bounce back. Also remember, it’s easier to build an athlete back up than to recover from over-training, especially when in the deep dark holes of illness.
True story…….In my racing career, there were a number of times when I was forced off the bike to rest from illness. It’s a huge blow because you have big goals ahead of you and being sidelined by illness makes you feel like those goals are not attainable anymore. However, it can be a blessing….A great example was in 2014- I was sick with bronchitis and flu symptoms. I took a full 10 days off the bike. Later, 5 days leading into Tour of California, I started up with some recovery, later some endurance and some openers for the Time Trial and Circuit race. That illness was a disaster, but it turned into a golden blessing in disguise. Before getting sick, I was on edge from months of hard training and racing. I was overly susceptible, and in my “open window” got it, hard. On the positive side, being out meant forced rest and recovery after a hard block of racing. I was able to bounce back into action with more energy and placed 2nd in the Time Trial, 3rd in the Circuit Race!
Being optimistic and positive is also very helpful in recovery. The mental game goes a long way.