How to deal with illness and when to start training again

This is topic is really important to riders of all levels as it can affect anyone. 

As a coach I have worked with many athletes and most at some point in their training have caught a cold, had flu etc. and this means we need to know how to treat our rest/recovery and when and how we come back to our training.

If you have become ill follow the points below: (obviously if seriously ill contact GP or get to A&E)

  • Stop training
  • Work out what you have caught, cold, cough, flu etc. (don’t use Google)
  • Make sure you are hydrating and eating well (our body needs fuel when ill as it is fighting a bug or virus and this uses a lot of energy)
  • Use medication to help with temperature
  • Check resting heart rate (can be elevated when ill)

When/how to come back to training:

  • As you start to feel everyday activity becoming easy and non-exhausting
  • Chose a route that you know and is short (or use a turbo)
  • Aim to ride/run this route at sub base intensity (zone1)
  • Watch heart rate while riding, if it is feeling very hard even at low intensity then back off and head home
  • If heart rate is higher or lower than normal by 10 beats plus then head home
  • Trust in how you feel, if you are not happy then head home
  • If heart rate is reflecting effort, then all is good
  • Keep next few rides/runs as above to allow your body the chance to fully recover

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We need to look after ourselves, as much as we feel that urge to get out and train we must rest and make sure we are recovered.

We find it hard psychologically as we are wired to be active and so anything causing involuntary sedentary behaviour will tend to have a negative mental impact and so we must have a process in place to deal with this.

Understanding how our body deals with illness, will help us to go through the steps above as these steps will get you back to training properly much quicker.

We can go and train when ill but you are putting your body through too much stress and so it is having a powerful negative impact which delays repairs to your health this delay will cause more psychological impact and this will increase the delay further to getting back to health.

The reason I state keep first test session at zone 1 is because it is the most likely achievable target zone after being ill, you achieve this and your mental state will improve (it’s about setting sensible, achievable goals, see goal setting)

I hope this article will be of help and can act as a reminder for you if you get ill and help you deal with it in a positive and constructive manner.

If you have any  questions on this article or any other areas of training or racing in the endurance sports world, then please