A question we frequently hear at this time of year concerns how to handle a cough or cold in terms of training? You are naturally a pretty committed group which means that our advice probably errs on the side of caution.
There isn’t a lot of clear research on what works best, but if you pay no heed to your symptoms and continue to train, then you do risk prolonging or worsening the impact of the virus. It seems sensible to plan to reduce your efforts, and to monitor really closely how you are responding to even a gentle session. Replace a long run with a long walk and see how you cope – if you feel like running the last mile, then you have probably found a very sensible compromise. Things to monitor include excessive sweating, elevated heart rate (compared to normal training), as well as aches and chills. There is a risk of dehydration if you do not replace fluids lost through excessive sweating.
Avoid sessions that leave you forty miles from home, with no choice but to ride hard to get home before dark (for example); equally avoid group sessions where you will feel compelled to keep-up (masters swimming can be a competitive place!). In brief if you can face the prospect of exercise, then this is a good sign, but don’t over-commit. Plan a session that can be built-up into something useful, or abandoned without inconvenience. Think in terms of maintenance sessions rather than big growth sessions….If you cannot even contemplate exercise, then you have answered your own question – be sensible, and do nothing for a day or two. Drink a lot of fluids, and get as much rest as you can.
Several learned sources advocate light training so long as symptoms remain above the neck (runny nose, sneezing, sore-throat etc.), but no training if symptoms are below the neck (chesty cough, wheezing, muscle aches, upset stomach) – as noted above, a fever can indicate that the body is struggling to cope with temperature regulation and should be rested. The old saw “feed a cold, starve a fever” is not an invitation to guzzle comfort food. In fact, it should read “if you feed a cold, you will finish by starving a fever”…now I don’t know if there’s science behind that, but do remember that if you take time off training, you shouldn’t need as many calories, and you certainly don’t need a box of chocolates…..
Of course we hope that we can avoid the cold in the first place, but if you do succumb, then keep things in perspective; it will pass! A week or two off training is recoverable, and this is infinitely better than never quite getting rid of the thing….