According to the CDC, there was widespread flu activity in every state except for Oregon and Hawaii as of the end of January 2018. Being an endurance athlete keeps you healthy on most occasions, but there is no amount of training that will save you from the flu. In fact, you are more susceptible to getting sick if you body is under stress from difficult workouts.
Not Getting Getting Sick
The Wall Street Journal wrote an article joking that hand sanitizer was the most abused substance during the Tour de France. That is because cycling teams go to great lengths to keep their athletes healthy, and while you may not have a world-class staff helping change your sheets at every hotel, you should also take caution to prevent getting sick in the first place.
Tips for not getting sick include:
- Wash Your Hands and Use Hand Sanitizer: Wipe down the carts in the grocery store and make sure to clean off the treadmill at the gym both before and after you use it.
- Avoid Shaking Hands: Go for a fist pump, a wave, or a wink and nod instead. If you do shake hands, use the hand sanitizer or wash your hands immediately afterwards.
- Don’t Eat From Communal Bowls: Don’t go to a party and grab from an open bag of chips when you see the person next to you coughing. This also applies to sharing drinks.
- Avoid Friends Who Don’t Self-Quarantine: It is okay to reschedule plans if you know a friend is sick. They may not be an athlete and won’t necessarily understand your paranoia about leaving the room when they walk in. Just gently explain to them that you are training for an important event and it requires you stay healthy.
What to Do If You Get Sick
If you are one of the unfortunate ones who is already sick there are still things you can do to speed up recovery and make the symptoms more bearable. We recommend that you do short walks, recovery rides, or light swims if you are feeling up to it. These should be under an hour and your heart rate should remain in Zone 1.
Precision Nutrition created an excellent infographic that details which symptoms you can train through and when you should stop exercising.
In general, try to minimize how much stress you put on your body. Stress can also build up from:
- Lack of sleep or poor quality sleep,
- Workplace or school deadlines,
- Relationship issues/challenges,
- Poor nutrition,
- Being in extreme climate conditions,
- Travel plus
Feeling bored because you aren’t able to do your typical schedule of workouts? Instead, try:
- Cooking a new nutritious meal;
- Taking a walk;
- Practicing and fine tuning your mental training skills or watching Mental Training Tactics and Race Day Strategies of World Champions with 6x IRONMAN World Champion Dave Scott.
- Watching webinars on Creating a Nutrition and Hydration Plan or Best Practice Training Tips from a Sub 9 Hour IRONMAN® Finisher; or
- Reading a book.
Returning to Scheduled Workouts
When your energy returns, start the first few workouts as easy to moderate. Your training plan may say intervals but you need to listen to what your body says. Fighting the flu or a cold weakens the immune system and increases the likelihood you’ll get sick again if you start stressing your body too soon.
Get well soon!
If you have specific questions about how to come back to your training schedule after being sick for an extended time period, contact ENDURANCEWORKS for a consultation.