Thursday, January 12, 2012

Winter Illness and Recovery

The winter months can be an exciting time for athletes who want to make large jumps in their fitness and speed, it is also a time that can put you further back at the same time if you don't deal with colds and viruses properly.  With the Holidays, less sunlight and other stresses in your life, the immune system takes a hit over the winter.  M2 is here to help guide you through coming back after getting knocked out of training from illness.

#1 Fever = No Exercise
While refraining from exercising while running a fever might seem obvious, consider that after offering the above advice to a new athlete at the time, I was admonished for such silliness where this same athlete years back somehow managed to train through pneumonia.  We were not a good match as things turned out.

#2 Aches = Light exercise at most
Preferably easy swim or gentle bike versus run.  Common sense here.  Do not be guided by the obligation to train so you do not lose fitness, but instead by whether a light exercise session might get blood stirring and leave you feeling better as a result.

#3 Chest Cold = Light exercise, short duration, low intensity
Important to respect lower intensities and no excessive duration.  Chest colds can be very draining and if you only drain yourself further and prolong recovery by force-feeding training.

#4 Head Cold = Moderate to L1 intensity 
With many head colds, I have often found it helpful to train at L1ish type intensity, or 10-20 below run LT.  Though not a pretty sight at times, such training can help clear the throat and nostrils of gunk that might otherwise remain stuck there.

Liquids, soups, vegetables, fruits are always good health agents.  Hopefully as an athlete you have already incorporated a good balanced diet, but maybe this is a chance to start?

Resumption of normal training:

First thing, do not worry that you have lost all your hard-earned fitness, that would take weeks of inactivity for this to occur.

Second thing, do not blast away the first day or even the send that you feel largely normal.  Test the water first with an easy workout, and assuming positive signals, you can upgrade to moderate and then moderate + L1 intensity.  Give a little watts or run pace and don't worry about it.  You should be good to go thereafter assuming the body responds well.

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