Nothing makes an athlete more grumpy than a cold. Taking time off to lay in bed feeling miserable is not quality rest, it is pure torture. Especially while you watch your training partners out training, getting fitter and winning races while you struggle to even turn the pedals. This spring, I had two MONTHS of alternating sick in bed a few days, feeling miserable a few days, a few days of crappy training, then one positive training day, only to find myself back in bed sick. It has been a nightmare. Lots of people I know have told stories about themselves or co-workers dealing with nightmarish flu bugs and allergies this season, but this experience has been something altogether new for me. Now, two months after my first symptoms of a cold, I am finally on antibiotics, but hopefully this is the last step to getting healthy.
It is always a crapshoot whether you should train, or not train, while you are feeling sick. The rule of thumb in cycling was always if your symptoms are above the neck, you can train, but when it moves into your chest you need to lay off. But what about when you are at the tail end of a cold and you have that hacking cough that lingers for weeks? Also, sometimes you feel worse when all your symptoms are in your head, feverish etc? I am not sure that above the neck theory is correct.
All I know is I trained at half potential now for two months, and I am still not well. I took some days off, and trained some days. I am not sure now when I am at the end of it all what I could have done differently as I didn’t feel sick enough to lie in bed, I just felt like I had a VO2 of about 20. What I do know is how important it is to have a good doctor, who cares, and who is an athlete. I just started working with Vanessa Young in Victoria, who is an athlete herself, who has finally sorted out this illness for me. If your doctor is not athletic, they won’t know how desperate you are to get back to training, at what intensity your activity can be, or how well you take care of yourself otherwise. Athletes want to hear how LONG to rest, how MUCH to do when you are coming back, and how they should be feeling.
So what do you do while you are sick? Well, I guess rest more is the first key. Drink more water. Eat lots of greens and fruit. Take zinc and antioxidants. Take whatever antibiotics are prescribed for you for the whole course, even if you feel that you are better half way through. And I guess the most important thing is to try and think positive. I ended up pretty miserable and frustrated that I wasn’t better sooner, and I am sure that didn’t help at all. It is a long season, and these spring colds could be a blessing in disguise. Those of us training year round can find ourselves a bit burnt later in the season, and a bit of a graduator on the early season can be a good thing.
So while I slowly creep back towards healthy, I wish everyone the best of health. Nothing makes us appreciate more what we do until we can’t do it. Take care of yourself!