Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Oh No...I Have a Cold But I Need to Train! What Now?

I swear it's been one thing after another for me so far this season. My vision of ramping up quickly and easily for tri season is quickly and easily fading. This week it's a cold. Doesn't sound like much, yet it's totally thrown off my training this week. Sunday's swim was rough. My Monday afternoon lunch run was a hot mess. My Tuesday training was non-existent. So here we are now in the middle of the week and I am just hoping to get in a halfway decent run tonight and maybe a swim should the tri gods feel so generous as to grant me the energy for this.

I know I am not the only one to experience this "I want to train but I'm sick" dilemna. In fact half of my office alone is sick right now as were two of my kids so I am fairly sure that there is a nasty cold going around right now. This post is dedicated to how to fight off a cold and get back to training quickly.

What do the Docs say?

A little Google search for common cold revealed a plethora of websites with information on how to treat the cold. Ready for the answer? Brace yourself my fellow athletes...the first item on the list is a nasty four letter word...REST!
  • Rest - in other words take it easy and take a day or two off or otherwise significantly decrease the duration and intensity of your training.
  • Drink - drink lots of water, juice, electrolyte-rich drinks and beer. Just kidding about the beer. I know it was a cruel joke.
  • No alcohol - this is not the time to party. Give it up. A glass of red wine with dinner may be acceptable but shots of tequila are generally not advisable.
  • Zinc - Many people feel taking zinc supplements can help shorten the lifespan of a cold. 
  • Vitamin C - Again it is thought that adding vitamin c can help your immune system fight off a cold faster. Vitamin E is also a good one to add.
  • Treat pain/fever with ibuprofen - generally take this every 4-6 hours as needed. On the plus side the rest and ibuprofen should be good for nursing any aches or lingering injuries you may have from training.
  • Herbal tea with honey - Tea when you're sick is a win/win. It helps you hydrate, soothes your senses and provides antioxidants that can help fight off a cold.
  • Sore throat - gargle with warm salt water, use lozenges or ice chips for soothing.
  • Runny or stuffy nose - use saline or allergy medicine or vick's inhaler to aid in nasal ailments.
  • Coughing - use cough drops, drink tea, use cough medicine as needed.
  • Ease back into activity - when returning to training from rest take it easy for a day or two, even a week until your body feels strong and recovered fully.
Hopefully you avoid the cold this season...unlike me. If not, relax and rest, allow your body to recover and you'll be back to training at your normal level soon. 


  1. That's a good point. A week off usually doesn't affect someone's fitness level. It's just that most athletes hate to rest. I am guilty of this. I am feeling better today. Planning some easy working out tonight. Nothing too intense. Happy training!

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  3. Thanks for posting this just at the right time! I feel like crap and was feeling super guilty about just the possibility of not working out. It just takes one person to put it in print for me to realize I am an idiot and need to rest! Thanks.

  4. Lauren, hang in there. Just take a day off and see how you feel. Jeff, this made me laugh!

  5. My poor arse has been sick for the last week or so. Gosh it is hard to slow down which makes it even harder to get better! Stupid germs!

  6. Jan - hope you feel better! I know, I hate resting or slowing down but guess it's our body's way of saying take it easy!