Training and illness - Big Mountain Training

Training and illness

 The main goal of training, for someone who is already quite fit, is to remain injury free, avoid getting sick and to make some gradual improvement in strength and skill.

Part of my philosophy on training my clients is that we don’t train under any illness, my belief, which is widely accepted by sports scientists, is that training when you are sick, does not improve your fitness or “toughen you up”. In fact, it will only hinder your progress and make you go backwards. I’ve seen too many people confuse sickness with being weak, it’s an unwise comparison. Put it this way if you have contact with human’s you’re probably going to get sick at some point during your training so be prepared.

While I was training for Ama Dablam, my immune system took a hit after a long silent battle with a tick which I found partially imbedded in my hip after about 3 weeks. I succumbed to a general level of fatigue and lethargy from the tick’s bacteria and it left me open to a cold and flu, that I would normally shake off.

All the things I generally throw at cold symptoms, like vitamin C, raw garlic, colloidal silver, green juices and increased vegetable intake didn’t seem to have much effect. So I decided to put my training on hold as soon as I felt my energy levels decreasing.

The only training I did was some easy days in the mountains, climbing and hiking (work related). I limited my early morning aerobic runs in the cold air to a total of zero per week and I dialled back my strength sessions to mobility and stretching.

After two weeks of rest, my energy levels were back up again and I got back to training. Waiting until I was at optimum health before I started back on my training program was the responsible choice and I saw little change in my fitness. This is the benefit of starting your training program 6 months or longer before your trip rather than 6 weeks! You have time up your sleeve.

This is advice I’m happy to share with anyone, even if it’s costs me a few cancelled sessions with my own clients! It’s all about doing the right thing for your training, long term!

So, here is the low down on training and illness:

  1. Your body is most vulnerable after a hard heavy training session so get dry and warm immediately.

  2. Pay attention to how your daily lifestyle and stress levels impact your training by keeping a training log.

  3.  Stop training at the first sign of illness and focus boosting your immune system through your nutrition.

  4. Spend the time you would have been training researching your trip, routes, gear etc.

  5. Catch up on some sleep!

  6. You can return to training when your energy levels return, even if you’re not 100%, you’re definitely on the mend.

  7. Log your morning resting heart rate to predict when illness might be creeping up on you, pre-empt it by going light!
Train Smart, as well as Hard!

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