It doesn't matter if you're Lance Armstrong or Tiger Woods there's one thing every male athlete fears. No I'm not referring to being caught cheating, whether in your sport or on your wife and being subjected to international humiliation, but a vicious case of man flu. More debilitating than a golf club to the balls from Mrs Woods, a bout of MF can seriously derail your training schedule or race preparation.
There are times when you feel a bit low, when exercise feels like the
last thing you want to do, but it actually completely invigorates you. However, as I've said before there are other times when you should just listen to your body and rest. So what does my favourite expert, Joe Friel author of the Triathlete's Training Bible, advise? When a cold or bug gets you down should you continue to train normally, cut back or stop altogether? According to Mr Friel a "neck check" will dictate your course of action. If you have "above the neck symptoms" such as a runny nose, sneezing or scratchy throat he advises a shorter workout than normal at a lower intensity. He says that once you are warmed up you will feel better but suggests you stop if this isn't the case.
If the symptoms are below the neck, such as chest cold, chills, achy muscles or you have a fever and are coughing up mucus Mr Friel says you shouldn't even start. He warns that intense exercise in these conditions will increase the severity of the illness and can even cause extreme complications, including death! Mr Friel says "below the neck" symptoms are sometimes accompanied by the Coxsackie virus, which can invade the heart muscle and cause severe complications.
I have to confess that in each of the three triathlons I competed in this year I wasn't feeling in rude health. But, as I explained earlier in the week, I am extremely stubborn and find pulling out of a race a very difficult thing to do. One of the races I did last year was the East Grinstead Triathlon which is put on by our club. As a result you can only take part the first year you are a member, after that you take on marshaling duties. I therefore raced when I hadn't properly recovered from a chesty cough. I didn't have any major problems but it did probably take a good week longer to recover.
I'm pretty sure that if I'd done the sensible thing and sat this or the previous race out then I would have probably have been in better shape for the remaining races. But as you may have gathered by now I rarely do the sensible thing.