About half my UK based riders (and me), have picked up a cold bug that seems to the doing the rounds at the moment. Now, I’m a bloke so when I’ve got a cold I don’t like to go on, and on, and on and on about it. Typically, I’m stoic and don’t like people to make a fuss… ahem.
However, in the interests of ‘Bro-Science’ and at the risk of severe criticism for the total lack of either medical knowledge or peer review I thought I would, indeed, batter on about it for the dubious benefit of fellow sufferers. There is, at least in part, some good reason to my droning on in addition to just reaching for non-existent sympathy. I always tell my riders to rest when they’ve got a cold. I’ve never seen anybody improve their fitness training with a bug but I have seen it demolish hard earned fitness when people have trained whilst still showing symptoms. It risks increasing the chances of post viral fatigue and all sort of nasties. In addition, I coach the GB Transplant Team who are purposefully immunosuppressed to mitigate organ rejection so I’m naturally cautious.
I’m as sure as I can be that the ‘it’s fine to train if the cold is above your neck’ trope is bollocks – a virus doesn’t know or care if it’s affecting just your head or not, you feel shit because of your immune response to the virus, not the virus itself, it’s almost certainly resident in the whole of your body. The same virus can effect two people in different ways.
Colin has given me a right battering. I did an FTP test just before it got hold of me so I know where my aerobic endurance level was before being infested with this vile pathogen. I’ve tracked the time its taken me to get back to what I laughingly refer to as ‘fitness’ using power (output measure) and HR (input measure) data for the middle 8 minutes of a sweetspot session (88-93% FTP) interval (table below). The good news for me, and you if you’ve picked up the same bug (and it’s affecting you in a similar way), is there does appear to be some light at the end of the dark snotty tunnel.
So, it’s taken me the best part of 4 weeks (25 days) to go from picking up the virus to being back to where my FTP test indicated I should be pre-cold. Fundamentally, whilst I felt okay but was seemingly recovering from the bug on 19th January, I needed more input (164 bpm) to produce less output (215w). I was trying hard but getting nowhere. By 30th January, less input (153 bpm) was resulting in more power output (245w). I was, at least by my standards, getting there. Interestingly, after I'd caught the bug but before I was symptomatic, I needed a fair bit more input (166 pm) for the same output (245w). I say it's 'interesting' but you'll be the judge of that.
Not remotely representative I know (52 year old, reasonably well trained if immunosuppressed male) and you can’t generalise anything from this anecdotal ‘evidence’ so I will do just that, generalise…
Thanks for listening, sniff… Rich
The ramblings of a cycling coach...