Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Training while sick - The "gray" area

Michelle came down with a cold last week but fought it off very quickly by getting quality rest right when she felt the cold coming on. I thought I had dodged the bullet but I woke up yesterday with a sore throat and felt "blah". I woke up today with more of the same but now I also have head congestion. I don't feel horrible but I am definitely not 100%. For me, this has always been a "gray" area in regards to training.

When you feel a cold coming on, do you:

A) Exercise anyway and if/when you feel horrible, then take a break
B) Do something mellow like riding the rollers for 30' or walking outside
C) Stop exercising altogether in an effort to shorten the duration of the illness

On one hand, I don't have an "A" race until May this year so I can probably afford a couple of days off. On the other hand, I hate the thought of losing fitness when I have put some quality work in during the month of December.

The Mayo Clinic website offers this typical recommendation for training while sick:

"Mild to moderate physical activity is usually OK if you have a garden-variety cold and no fever. Exercise may even help you feel better by opening your nasal passages and temporarily relieving nasal congestion.

As a general guide for exercise and illness, consider this:

  • Exercise is usually OK if your signs and symptoms are all "above the neck" — symptoms you may have with a common cold, such as runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing or minor sore throat. Consider reducing the intensity and length of your workout, though, or you may feel worse. Instead of going for a run, take a walk, for example.
  • Don't exercise if your signs and symptoms are "below the neck" — such as chest congestion, hacking cough or upset stomach.
  • Don't exercise if you have a fever, fatigue or widespread muscle aches"
- Edward R. Laskowski, M.D.

In contrast, reading Joe Friel's Blog make me cringe at missing even a single workout and fuels my paranoia:

"When there is a break in training for a few days fitness is lost and you have to step back in training and begin over again. Many athletes experience this once or twice each season and as a result never realize their full potential."

- Joe Friel

I am not known for my patience and even during the "off season" I struggle with missing workouts. Part of it is simply that I like to train. However, in the back of my mind is this lingering fear that a week off the bike will override every bit of training that I have ever done in my life.

I know, it is ridiculous.

Late Edit: The rest of the "Missed Workouts" article from Joe Friel's Blog can be found here.


StupidBike said...

err on the side of rest, I'm convinced Friel is a paranoid schizo.

Hell 2 weeks of work travel and I come home and finish a CX race in the same slot I always do. A week of east coast travel and I come home to win my sole race of 2011.


Ben Welnak said...

Couldn't agree more with StupidBike.
Miss a few days and have to start over? Jeezus..that guy must not ride much over an hour or two ever (probably not because that would compromise recovery and force you to rest for too long and risk losing all your fitness). Rest up and hit it hard when you can.

Eszter said...

Chris came down with something similar. I avoided it for two weeks (while he kept skiing/playing) before I slipped and shared a cup of coffee with him while he was still sick. 48 hours later I came down with the same symptoms he started with, so I took a day off and was healthy 72 hours later. Chris was still sick.

Moral of the story: Rest. I think.

Vito said...

Enjoy life!!