Can I go cycling with the flu or a cold?

Training 23/01/24 15:44 Migue A.

In these days of winter, with cold temperatures, viruses and bacteria that cause respiratory diseases are very common. Those who have planned training sessions are faced with the dilemma of either continuing with their planned sessions or losing a few days and recovering.

Don't let a cold stop you

When we are preparing for a competition or participation in a special event, we all have the feeling that we cannot miss any training if we want to arrive in the right shape on the appointed day.

Therefore, when we find ourselves with unexpected circumstances such as suffering a cold or we catch something as common as the flu, or in recent times, the covid, immediately the world comes to our feet and we think that the efforts we have been doing for months are going to go down the drain, nothing further from reality. It is when we consider to continue training at all costs without thinking if it is the most appropriate thing to do.

Although sport in general and cycling in particular have among their advantages that of favoring the body's natural defenses, it is also true that, in times of higher training intensity, when we tune our weight as much as possible and the loads are high, our body is weakened and is more exposed to infections which, on the other hand, are totally common at this time of the year.

Which option to choose

When we have to make the decision, being sick, between going out to train or stop and recover, we have to take into account several factors. In general, it is usually differentiated between whether it affects only the upper airways: nose and throat, or whether it has caught us more deeply, going down to the bronchi or lungs.

In the first case they are usually mild symptoms that cause discomfort such as difficulty breathing due to nose and throat congestion, perhaps also headache if the sinuses of the face are also congested, but nothing that prevents us from cycling. Of course, it will be preferable to vary the plan if it was a high intensity session. Mainly because we will probably not be able to meet the set parameters, not for lack of strength but because of breathing difficulties. Instead, a light riding session may even be beneficial to keep the body active.

Another very different case is when the infection has reached from the neck down. In these cases the congestion is usually large, generating extra symptoms such as cough. In the case of a viral infection, fever may also appear, which, in addition to weakening us, may bring with it other symptoms such as loss of muscle tone and generalized pain.

In these cases, the sensible thing to do is to stop for a few days and let the body recover properly while we take the medication prescribed by the doctor. Stopping those 4 or 5 days can mean the difference between stopping training only those days, or that the disease ends up extending to 10 or more days which would be even more detrimental to our form. In addition, under these conditions it is practically impossible to comply with the program unless the demand is a little high.

Of course we will go to see the doctor to get an accurate diagnosis and we will follow his instructions regarding the medication he prescribes. No self-medication, even if we think we know what we have and we can use the medicines we have at home, especially for those who resort to antibiotics at the slightest opportunity, a practice that is becoming a real health problem worldwide due to the resistance to them that their incorrect administration is generating in bacteria and that is making their effectiveness decrease. Antibiotics are not effective against a virus, such as the flu virus.

Precautions for training while sick

If, in spite of everything, we choose to keep to the plan, it will not be superfluous to take a series of precautions, starting with hydration which, if it is usually an important parameter, when we have a cold it becomes much more important as it helps to fluidify the mucus that the body generates as a response to the infection.

Protecting mouth and nose with a neck brace or similar will also be convenient to avoid that the cold air can aggravate the symptoms we already suffer. Also related to clothing, we must be especially careful with what we choose because it will be as harmful to be cold as to protect ourselves too much and end up sweating too much and then freeze.

It goes without saying that, when we get home, the right thing to do is to go straight to the shower instead of lazing around as we often do between checking messages on our cell phone or uploading what we have just done to Strava. Top priority to wash off the sweat, recover temperature and put on dry and clean clothes.

Although we always like to ride our bikes outdoors, we must also consider that, in these conditions, it is a fantastic option to choose the turbo trainer, which will allow us to stay at home and be able to stop at any time if, once the session has started, the sensations are not good, as well as minimizing the chances of catching cold and aggravating our condition.

Getting sick in winter is practically inevitable since this type of respiratory disease travels through the environment. In any case, to reduce the chances of falling, it is advisable to apply some of the practices learned during the pandemic, such as the use of hydroalcoholic gels to keep hands disinfected or use a mask in closed places with a concentration of people, although, as in everything, 100% protection is impossible and it is rare not to end up falling. Of course, this is when we remember that perhaps, if we had been vaccinated against the flu a couple of months ago, we would not be planning these issues now.



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