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Would you race with a cold?(17 posts)

Would you race with a cold?BipedZed
Oct 4, 2002 4:00 AM
I've had a cold since Sunday and while I'm getting better I can feel it moving into my chest and I'm developing a cough. Managed to get in an easy 2hr ride yesterday for the first time all week and felt OK.

Problem is the first local cross race of the season is tomorrow. I'm in denial thinking I can go race but the sensible side of me says to skip it, get to 100% and not risk getting any sicker. Cross races are so hard that it could send me over the edge and I could get worse. But then again, maybe not and tomorrow is the first race in a 4 race series...

What would you do?
some help....buffalosorrow
Oct 4, 2002 4:31 AM
Personally, depends on how severe the ailment is.
For starters I would take a ride down to the local heathfood shop buy all the organic veggies, potatos etc.. and stew up yourself a endless crock pot of soup, post race. Also look into a temporary supplement, I have used Source Naturals
Wellness Formula (herbal Defense), kicks the bug. Third buy a shooter or two of some good old scotch, good to numb the aches post race.
Most likely you will be excited for the race, but you might out do yourself and your body might quit on you. Reasons being
heavy on the post race suggestions.
Oct 4, 2002 4:36 AM
I don't think I could stop my self racing the first cross race of the year!!

Can't wait until Sunday !!!!
re: Would you race with a cold?dlbcx
Oct 4, 2002 5:53 AM
Did it one time and that was the last time I will ever try that stunt again. I had a minor sore throat and some sniffling but I thought I could still race. Did the race and went home. Within an hour after getting home, I had a really bad fever, which turned into pneumonia. I was in pretty bad shape so my advice is not to do it.
Depends on you...bk19
Oct 4, 2002 6:54 AM
How well do you recover from most colds? Do they linger for weeks, or are they gone in a matter of days? If you are the type that has colds linger for weeks, you are probably best off skipping it and focusing on being 100% for the next race. Remember this is the first race of the year, and there will be others. You would hate to miss a bunch of other races just because you made your illness worse by trying to come back to early. An "easy 2hr ride" is a lot different from a 45-60 min. anaerobic torture session of a cross race.

Another thing to consider is, will you enjoy the race if you can't be competitive due to your illness? I did my first cross race last year after being off the bike with a bad respiratory infection, and it made a tough race even worse. Between not being able to breathe, rainy weather, and declining fitness it felt like I was bonking from lap 1. I finished (barely) and had fun, but not as much fun as I would have if I hadn't been sick. Of course, that has me looking forward to this season all the more....

In review....
Could racing make me more sick and cause me to miss more races? If yes, don't race.
Will I still have fun if I am not competitive? If no don't race.
I'm no doctor, but..............TWD
Oct 4, 2002 7:06 AM
I'd be cautious if I were you. A few years back I trained really hard early in the season to get ready for the mtb race season. I ended up getting sick, and tried to train/race through it and it only got worse. I ended up with a nasty bronchial infection.

I kept overdoing it trying to tough it out and I got sick repeatedly. Each time I got sick I lost fitness, so I just pushed myself harder and harder at the next race to place well, and ended up getting sick again.

I fought it all season long, and ended up pushing myself so far over my limits at the second to last race of the season that I ended up missing a week of work (didn't have the strength to get out of bed). I missed the last and most important race of the year (by doctor's orders) and ended up not having the strength to ride for three months.

I lost all motivation to race again for almost 5 years.

OK, so this is an extreme case, but my point is, you need to decide whether racing while sick to save one race is worth risking not doing well or being able to race at all in later races.

On the flip side, if it's only a minor cold, you could decide on the morning of the race whether you're feeling up to it. Just be honest with yourself, don't be an idiot like I was and say "I'm tough enough to push through it".
And if you race and feel terrible, then back off.

Good luck and get well

Me, too. Proceed with a ton of caution!Jakob
Oct 4, 2002 11:07 AM
If it was just in your sinuses, I wouldn't sweat it. I once PR'ed in the mile with a full blown, bloody nosed sinus infection. Your lungs are a whole other thing.

The summer before my freshman year of high school, I fought colds and bronchitis for two and a half months. I was in really good shape from track and the summer is the biggest time of year for BMX. I would race, stay in bed the whole next day, ride easy for a couple of days, and repeat. I remember supressing my coughs at night so that parents couldn't hear them just so that I could go out and ride or race the next day.

By September, I was ranked top 10 in my age group, but didn't even make the final at the State Champs because I couldn't breathe. It turned out that I actually injured my lungs to the point that I had developed exercise-induced asthma. I was also pretty emotionally exhausted and burned out on BMX.

Now, 12 years later, I still need an inhaler before I ride or run.

You might be able to get away with racing this weekend, but don't turn it into a big cycle of relapses. It is really important that you get healthy before you start taxing your lungs again.
Sounds all too familiar....TWD
Oct 7, 2002 3:54 PM

Now that you mention it, I ended up with Excercise induces Asthma from my season from hell also. The doctor told me it would go away in 4-5 months, but it lingered for years.

It wasn't until last year (about 5 years later) that I actaully weened myself off the inhaler. It got even better this year, and I made somewhat of a return to racing, and have only had an occaisional EIA attack when doing hard uphill intervals.

May be hope for me yet
re: Would you race with a cold?cross bro
Oct 4, 2002 8:11 AM
I faced the same problem last week at the start of the U.K Cross season. I went to the race intending not to compete if I did not feel 100% when warming up. I felt OK warming up, but during the race I was fine until the first big hill - then I could not get my breath and my chest was tight.
If you suspect your Cold is affecting your chest in any way-do not bother, you will only be dissappointed with your result and take longer to recover.
re: Would you race with a cold?p lo
Oct 4, 2002 8:24 AM
i am in the same situation except that i think i am just about over mine. But cross rules and i want to be on the starting line tomorrow in boulder! so i am going to give it a shot......
the rule of thumb I've heardPauli
Oct 4, 2002 8:25 AM
is that it's best not to exercise when the symptoms have migrated "below your head" a la chest cold, body aches, etc. This is more a guideline for TRAINING, though, I think.

For colds early on, I've used a nasal gel (not painful like it sounds) called Zicam. A Doc buddy of mine used it to fight off a cold before an Ironman and he felt fine.

I think this only works if you start early, before symptoms really set in.
the rule of thumb I've heardatpjunkie
Oct 4, 2002 8:55 AM
from the previous posts you should have noted:
Intense anaerobic excercise while sick opens you up to further illness and secondary infection (2 poster wound up with bronchial infections, pneumonia)
Most who tried wound up sicker and missed more races.
Some lost most of a season or longer from such forays.
If your cold is moving south you will lack energy and have reduced lung capacity both needed for a cx race. You will be further suppressing your immune system to fight what you have and maybe allow something else to join in.
Think long term, stay home, be sad , get well.
Thanks everyone and good luck this weekendBipedZed
Oct 4, 2002 12:06 PM
Looks like I'm skipping the season opener tomorrow. As much as I hate to do that you've all convinced me it's the right thing to do in the long run. Towards the end of last season I kept relapsing after every race but I couldn't skip one to get healthy because I was in the running for overall series money. In hindsight that was probably the wrong decision as I was wasted for CX Nats.

BTW, these responses illustrate what a cool scene cyclocross is with racers being much more friendly. Good luck to everyone this weekend.
if you have to ask...Pb butt
Oct 4, 2002 12:10 PM
When in doubt, be conservative. I like the "shoulders rule." If it's above the shoulders, go for it--the effort might help clear your head. But if it's below the shoulders it's better to take it easy. There's a lot of racing to be done yet, be careful not to blow several more weeks by being impatient.
Oct 4, 2002 12:50 PM
have to agree, I too (actually my coaches) ended a promising swimming career with a cold that turned to bronchitis that turned to pneumonia during 2 consecutive winter training seasons.
Be well. Ride Healthy
Oct 4, 2002 3:10 PM
Came late to the party; sorry to hear you are not going to be there Zed! I managed to give myself a mild strain (playing Lazer Tag of all idiocy) on Weds. night but my massage guy thinks it's okay to race if I don't wake up tight tomorrow AM.

I think the others are right and that you should be conservative. Congestion above the neck is one thing but a chest cold / infection is dangerous to mess with.

Another good determining factor is to go by how you feel once you get 10-20 minutes into the ride/warmup/race (basically once your HR hits Z3). I frequently use this one for winter training if I feel like I have something coming on. If I start to feel better, I'm okay. If I start to feel worse, I immediately quit and go home. Learned this one by trial and error, the hard way.

Using a combo of these two determining factors I raced Boulder Roubaix 2 years ago with such a rotten head cold / ear infection that I could neither breathe nor hear; felt like my head was packed inside a mattress. I felt better throughout the race, and finished strong. The bonus was that it convinced the cold germs to go find a more sedentary host!
re: Would you race with a cold?Jan Gerrit Klok
Oct 7, 2002 10:17 AM
I did it often, I especially remember last season. It was a real small time event, I decided to even do 2 races, the 12.00 cross and the 14.00 mtb race. cross went quite bad, I was slow, couldn't get up to speed, hated the trail, and I'm not much of a cross rider anyways, lacking technique and such. The mtb race, I felt super-strong, said goodbye to the pack already on the first lap and just took off. Mayor gap immediately, and then it happened. Legs grinded to a hold, no longer able to keep me going at a normal racing pace, not for me, not for a lady, not for a tourist, not for an old lady. I almost left the race while in the lead, but was so stubborn to keep trying. Was overtaking by three guys and called it a day. Was heavily criticized by people who learned that I was ill, throat was all messed up, you know. Next day I was seriously recovering, day after healed.
I now try to ride my cold out, clothed to stay well warm, and then get rid of all those germs and slime. I can lose lots of ounces of slime during a training that a day of sniffing won't manage. IMHO, it's best to get it all out.

Oh, on an other occasion, in summer, I had a week of throat crack behind me as well. I'm not much of a training animal, but this week I really went for it, 2-3 hours average, on- and offroad. Just before the race, even my internals were playing up a little, but in the race I was mighty strong, even able to do an all-out sprint at the finishline, which is unusual to me. I was a more complete racer that day that normally. I think the anti-germs in my system, combined with the solid training really helped me to raise my game, at least for that one race. I still consider that race as one of my strongest accomplishments, I finished 7th (national sports).