Training and illness

Training and illness

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Knowledge Level: Beginner

Feeling under the weather, not bouncing back from your workouts or suffering from training camp tummy? Bugs and viruses can easily fell the strongest riders and leave your training and racing plans in ruins. Andrew Evans gives us some expert advice on when you should toughen up and press on, when you should skip a session and how to avoid falling foul to the latest bout of illness doing the rounds.

To train or not to train?

If you’re suffering with an illness and are unsure whether to train, the most reliable indicator is probably your waking resting heart rate. Get into the habit of measuring it every morning when you wake up and, if you see an elevation of more than 10 beats per minute, take this as a warning signal that your body is fighting an infection.

This doesn’t mean you have to confine yourself to bed and, if you feel up to it, you can ride easily in Zones 1-2 but higher intensity efforts should be avoided and you may well be better doing nothing. Once you’ve noticed a rise in your heart rate, work by the 3 times 2 rule. The illness will take two days to develop, you’ll have it for two days and then it’ll take two days to leave your system. So, once you’re feeling better, give it another two days before upping the intensity or you may just rekindle the illness that will still be in your system.

Symptoms below the neck, such as feverish aches, should definitely keep you off your bike and, if you start producing green or discoloured phlegm, you should avoid training.

Help your body

If you’re training hard, you have to make sure you give your body a fighting chance to battle infection. Recover well after rides and, where possible, take some time off your feet. If you’re on a training camp or travelling to an event, when not riding, do as little as possible. No walking, no shopping, prioritise rest and recovery.

Always keep well hydrated by making sure your urine is clear. As well as eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetable, take a multi-vitamin and mineral to cover your bases.

A protein and carbohydrate recovery drink is essential post training. Some high quality products also contain micronutrients such as zinc which are essential during heavy training blocks.

Personal hygiene

Avoiding sources of infection. If someone is ill, keep away from them although, if you’ve got kids, this can be tricky. The most effective way to avoid picking up bugs is basic hygiene awareness. Always wash your hands thoroughly and carry a small handheld gel for when you’re out and about.

Travel tummy trouble

Many riders when travelling to race or train abroad often suffer from stomach upsets. More often than not though it’s just a change in environment upsetting their bodies and will resolve itself in 24 hours. Don’t reach immediately for the Imodium. Let the body deal with it naturally and flush it out. If you’re still suffering after 2-3 days, see a doctor. If you’re travelling or suffering from any form of gastric distress, a quality probiotic will always help. Here are some tips on avoiding stomach problems.