Lets stay healthy:
It’s transition time: that time of the year where you are either transitioning from winter miles to race miles or vice versa. This time of year is a killer for colds, flu and miscellaneous illnesses. Here are some top tips that can put in place to avoid illness wrecking this important phase in your training. There is no need to lock yourself away on an island or zip yourself up in a tent with its own life support.
Keep a positive mind: Mental health and physical health are linked closer than people think. Keeping a positive outlook on your training and your life will keep your immune system level and constant. Getting low, sometimes caused by withdrawal from racing or your training not going quite to plan can actually suppress your immune system letting sickness get a hold.
Sleep well: There is a common misnomer that sleeping well means sleeping a long time. Whilst you can get too little sleep; something that should be avoided if possible the jury is out on the length of sleep that you need. Your body and your lifestyle will give you the best guide. Sleeping well actually refers to the quality of your sleep, sleeping through till your alarm, not tossing and turning in the night and not stewing on the days events help your body stay on song and armed ready for any bug that comes your way. I often recommend listening to relaxing music or using either passive or progressive muscle relaxation (can find these on YouTube) to help you sleep in a much deeper way. On a side note while we talk about sleep, using an alarm that wakes you softly is better than your old school alarm clock klaxon.
Supplement your diet: There is a lot of the internet about eating healthy and lots of people suggest that if you eat well you wont ever need supplements to keep you healthy. These sites and the authors are I am sure correct except that they have two very key differences to most of us. They are most often not trying to compete at an elite level in a physically demanding sport or they have a seemingly rather endless source of money (even if we did have access to this source of money we would probably buy lots of bikes not healthy food). So we need to buy supplements to help our body out. A good multi-vit and a Vit C and Zinc tablet should be fine although I did also used an Omega fish oil capsule as well.
Stay Warm: Staying warm on the bike goes without saying. No one likes those cold toes on a ride, but getting really cold on a ride, or worse still, really cold and wet, can really give your immune system a headache. Keeping yourself warm after a ride is also very important too. So wash your bike, if it needs washing straight away before going inside and getting changed. Then once showered wrap up warm to allow your body to regain it’s core body temperature slowly. Often if you jump in a hot shower you superficially warm yourself which leaves your body still trying to warm up using vital energy that should be going to your recovery on raising it’s own central heating this is why wrapping up warm helps.
Maintain your rest days: This one is particularly focused on the people building up for their season and not for the once who’s year is finishing. The pressure of your first race looming fast in front of you often forces you to increase your training levels by loosing a rest day, this isn’t the best way to prepare for your first race or any race for that matter. Maintain your rest day so that your body doesn’t get too run down by the training and become susceptible to colds and viruses. If your season is coming to an end, give your body a break before launching into your winter training to give your body a chance to re-charge to 100% before the winter miles begin.
None of this is going to guarantee to make you cold free during this transition period. Nothing can guarantee that but it will help you. Remember though if you do get ill don’t rush yourself back you will only regret it later either with over training or with another illness. Always over estimate the amount of rest you need with a cold giving yourself an extra few days after the symptoms have disappeared. Over resting is better than over training.