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Dealing with Illness

“Coach I’m sick!” Never words I like to read but the law of averages dictates that we will, inevitably fall ill and miss a few days training at times. After the crazy year that we have been living through most of us have started hammering the training again now that events are starting to happen again and motivation is sky high as a result. Pushing our bodies as hard as we do can make us vulnerable to illness and how we deal with it when it occurs can make or break the rest of our season.

Now I’m no doctor but these are some things I have learned from personal and coaching experience over the years.

The best cure for illness is SLEEP. Not only the amount that we get but the quality of that shut-eye. Many wearable devices will track both quantity and quality of sleep but how do we improve that? Make the room dark and quiet, close your eyes and SLEEP. Even dozing in and out of SLEEP is good. It’s like closing all the apps on your phone. It allows your body to focus all its resources on fighting whatever is ailing you. Your body is fit and efficient, it is good at this, give it a chance.

Don’t MEDICATE. Yes there are obviously things that need it but the common cold or influenza does not need cold and flu meds and especially anti-biotics. Good food, plenty of water and… SLEEP. Taking meds may make you ‘feel’ better by relieving some symptoms but, in my experience, they don’t hasten recovery and there is often a period, after you are well, when a return to training is impaired to ‘get over’ the meds. Certain anti-biotics actually increase the likelihood of tendon injuries. Masking the symptoms can also convince us that we don’t need to stay in bed and SLEEP, keeping other ‘apps’ open and forcing the body to spread resources.

Don’t try to make up the training you have missed. Every case is different and it depends on where you are on your progression whether you go back a bit to start or, you carry on with things as planned but overloading the days after you return to training, in the hopes, that you can make up sessions you missed will begin a downward spiral of fatigue and more illness.

Missing a few days training will not set you back at all. If you recover clean, without anything from the pharmacy, you will be able to get back into training straight away with an easy session or two to make sure all is well. If you have a good, consistent period of training under the belt already, the impact will be even less. Trying to train while ill will not be useful as your performance will be impaired. You risk making things worse and you’ll prolong your recovery. Put it out of your mind and SLEEP.

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