15 November 2010

Training while sick?

Now that cold and flu season is upon us, many of us that are active in sports and fitness will face a time where we need to decide: when am I too sick to train/exercise/play?

My general rule is this: if the symptoms are above the neck, then I’ll work out. If the symptoms are the neck or below, it’s time for me to rest and recover.

For example, if I have only nasal or eye allergies, I’ll usually do an indoor activity, so I’m not exposing myself to outdoor pollens. I’ll swim or lift weights or hit the treadmill. I find that usually after about 20 or 30 minutes, my symptoms actually improve. The natural dilation of the airways from exercise are quite beneficial to nasal congestion.

However, if I’ve got a sore throat or cough, I will stay home. I usually will feel a bit fatigued as well. This is my body telling me it is time to rest and recuperate from a bug.

You may ask: but what about that race I’m training for? Or that 100 pushup challenge? Or what about the gains I’ve made, won’t they be lost? Relax. If your race is still a ways out in the future, you will have plenty of time to regain your momentum. If it’s the day of the race, well, it is really up to you and your previous experience as to whether or not you can truly perform.

I personally have had to drop out of a 10K race that I was training for because of a knee injury. I gave the t-shirt away, too, because I couldn’t see myself wearing it. But I consoled myself that it was just one race, and others will come. I’m not an elite athlete by any stretch. I know that when I’m ready, I’ll participate in another race.

So, this week, I will be following my own advice. I have a cold now, and I will not be doing any pushups, or swimming any laps, but only resting, until I am feeling better. I figure it is better to rest now rather than make myself worse and prolong the illness. Hopefully by resting earlier, the body will recover sooner, than later.

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