Should You Train Through a Cold?

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Sick Person As we approach what is typically referred to as ‘cold season,’ a common question often arises – “Should I train through a cold?” This question often results in as many theories as, ‘which running shoes are best?‘ Some of the most common responses to ‘the training through a cold question’ are:
  • Yes, but not if it’s a chest cold
  • Yes, because if it’s not bad, the exercise will make you feel better
  • Yes, but not if you have a fever
  • Yes, but not if it ‘becomes’ the flu
See the trend? To determine if one should train through a cold, the starting place should be to identify what physiological effects occur to the body during a cold. Aside from feeling like crap, which isn’t exactly a science-based physiological effect, below are three main effects. The body breaks down (catabolism) muscle. Studies have shown that individuals with fevers show microscopic damage to muscles. Additionally, muscle strength decreases and it can take up to three weeks to regain full strength from a three-day cold. Fat metabolism is decreased. During a cold, the body primarily uses muscle protein for fuel, not fat. Aerobic metabolism is diminished. Aerobic capacity and lactate threshold decreases. For most endurance athletes, training days lost to sickness are perceived as exactly that… lost. However, it’s important to be aware that training performed while sick will have little to no benefit from a physiological standpoint and may make an athlete sicker and therefore keep them out of commission for a longer period of time. When sick, one’s energy should be directed to getting better, not training. Therefore, if you’re sick, you should rest until you feel at or near 100% recovered and even at that time, you should look to gradually build back up to their prior training intensity/volume.  ____________________________________________________________________________ Rick Prince is the founder/director of United Endurance Sports Coaching Academy (UESCA), a science-based endurance sports education company. UESCA educates and certifies running and triathlon coaches (cycling and ultrarunning coming soon!) worldwide on a 100% online platform. Click on the one of below links to learn more about our certifications and to get $50 OFF the purchase price! Click here to download the UESCA Triathlon Course Overview/Syllabus Click here to download the UESCA Running Course Overview/Syllabus Click here to sign up for information and launch alerts for the UESCA Ultrarunning Certification.  Click here to sign up for information and launch alerts for the UESCA Cycling Certification. 
Rick Prince

Rick Prince

Founder/Director of United Endurance Sports Coaching Academy (UESCA).

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