Should I keep training when I’m sick?

October 2, 2010

It happens at least once a season, I get a sore throat in the week or two before a big event and I know a cold is on its way. Should I keep training when I’m sick?

There is a ton of opinion online but I tend to refer to my two unfailingly reliable fonts of knowledge, Friel’s The Cyclist’s Training Bible and Burke and Pavelka’s The Complete Book of Long-Distance Cycling. Both use the same rule of thumb: if it’s a head cold with no fever then at least start a training session and see how you feel. Keep the effort moderate and go home if you don’t feel up for it. Often, it will clear your head and do you good.

Of course, if you’ve got a fever or a chest cold then don’t even think about riding. Give it at least a day after the fever breaks before trying a short ride to see how you feel.

When to give it a go

  • Head congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Scratchy throat

When to give it a miss

  • Fever
  • Chest congestion
  • Hacking cough
  • Muscle aches
  • Loss of appetite

Image by Michael Verhoef used under licence

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One Response to “Should I keep training when I’m sick?”

  1. richard Says:

    It will do you no harm to rest the final couple of weeks. The main problem is psychological – worrying that “form” is being lost. But if you have done the training for weeks and months beforehand that won’t be a problem for an amateur; fractions of difference only matter to professionals. Anyway, the final week before should be tapering (i.e. resting) anyway.


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