The recent spate of Australian flu sweeping across the UK has affected more people than I can remember in many years and amongst those people are many triathletes who previously had been desperately trying to kick start their training plans. For those who were already head long into their full training the pressure you put your body through in training for an endurance event can impact the immune system leaving you vulnerable to infections.
Unless you live in a bubble, you will to be exposed to infections. Minimising the risk of getting sick in the first place is always the best plan. Hitting it hard with your training can have a direct impact on your immune system for a directly afterwards and last for up to 3 days. This is called the “open window.” While you are in this window you need to really up your game with prevention. In other words, avoid babysitting after a long hard ride.
Several nutritional supplements and strategies have been shown to bolster immunity. Bonking during training is bad for your immune system. Ensuring adequate carbohydrate fueling during and after any heavy exercise helps counteract exercise-induced immune dysfunction. Meaning. We Love Carbs.
It will happen though. You will get sick, it will stop you from training and every day will chew you up as you fail to hit your weekly targets. Training through sickness is a pretty bad idea and can result in a nasty bout of the flu becoming something much worse. You are much better to scale back your training for a few days rather than risking being out of action for much longer than you need to be. While you are sick, rest, drink plenty of fluids, and take whatever medication you need.
Here are some guidelines for getting back into training following being sick:
- Ensure you wait one day after symptoms have passed before resuming any training.
- Resume training with a day consisting of only one recovery-paced session avoiding swimming until you have fully recovered
- Continue training at a recovery pace until you feel your strength fully returned
- Stop training and return to rest if any symptoms return
- If you were sick for three days or less don’t get back to your training plan until at least completing one recovery day.
- If you were sick for more than three days wait to get to training after at least three recovery days. Gradually ramp up your duration first, then intensity, to full training loads over the course of a week but listen to your body.