Unfortunately, I caught a really annoying cold. Since it started only with a sore throat for 5 days, I continued to do zone 1 and 2 work. However, over the weekend it developed into a full-fetched cold with running nose and a little bit of coughing – overall the symptoms aren’t very bad. Luckily, this was a transition week, so I was able to step down a bit. However, this week the training plan is continuing with race preparation. Shall I wait until the symptoms have completely gone away before continuing the training, or can I do at least some zone 1/2 work for a few days? When is it reasonable to start again with more intense training sessions?
I have found quite controversial suggestions on the internet. From staying away from training altogether for a week up to the old saying “above neck continue, below neck stop”.
My experience is that above the neck the risk is spreading the infection. Below the neck interferes with breathing which is fundamental to any aerobic activity.
What I do, which may not be best practice, is for a head cold just run easy as long as I am not fatigued; and for anything below the neck stop until I think running will help break up the congestion. It is important to keep in mind that when you are carrying fatigue you are also more susceptible to infections.
There seems to be a point where resuming training accelerates recovery. If you hit it it helps, but I also have missed it and prolonged the infection for weeks. Worst case, I once ended up with walking pneumonia for months…
Sometimes harder said than done.. but try to listen to your body.
Stress is stress, and when the body is trying to fight a cold, or infection that is it’s priority. Adding in stressful training risks your body having to juggle it’s priorities and leaves your immune system exposed to a bigger infection/illness/setback. As Charles mentioned there is always a sweet spot of exercise that helps when you have an upper respiratory illness and this often low intensity but done to RPE not your zones. So keep exercising to tolerance – keeping the effort low, adding in walks, but your focus should be on good nutrition, hydration and sleep to allow your body to tackle the cold.