As the nights get longer, the days shorter and arm warmers start appearing from the depths of our activewear drawers, we are reminded that Winter is fast approaching.
Being careful and smart about Winter training isn’t just about wearing a wind vest and toe warmers, or ensuring your bike lights are bright enough to be visible when it’s still pitch black at 6am (but seriously please be smart) it’s also about protecting yourself against the germs… And there are SO many germs!
As fast as those daylight hours are disappearing, cold and flu season is approaching. Sore throats, runny noses, headaches, coughing, sneezing aches and pains… You name it, it’s here.
So how do we protect ourselves? Obviously hygiene is important, cover your mouth, wash your hands, avoid contact with risky people (hang on I work in pharmacy… Is that even possible?)
Get a flu shot. I’m not getting into a vaccine debate, but my opinion is that if you’re healthy you should get the jab. It reduces your risk of getting the flu by 50-60%, but more importantly protects the vulnerable ones around you who aren’t able to have it (think cute babies, cuddly oldies and the immunocompromised who already have enough of a fight on their hands).
Eat well… Whilst cookies and red wine by the fireplace do sound tempting, the great thing about Winter is that rich hearty soups and stews full of vegetables will also warm, nourish and protect you… Now I just need a houseboy to make these for me whilst I’m out riding… Hmmm any takers?
Take vitamins/herbs/supplements that are going to support your immune system. There are plenty of options, Sambucol, echinacea, horseradish, vitamin C, olive leaf extract, everyone has their favourites… But if you asked me what I take myself, or would give my family when they were sick: Definitely “KI Cold and Flu attack” it’s got andrographs, ginger and zinc in it. At the first sign of a cold I dose up on that and believe it drastically reduces the symptoms and severity.
If you do get struck down with a cold, flu or virus don’t play the tough guy. There’s absolutely no need to keep training through it and prolong feeling awful. I know some people try and justify it by saying if its above the chest you can keep going. But if you rest up, stay hydrated, eat ALL the fruit and vegetables and take a few days off work/training you will bounce back faster. Let your energy be spent fighting the germs not being counterproductive trying to train through it.
Above all be smart. Get out of bed and exercise if you’re healthy, you wont regret it (having the motivation to train through Winter is a whole other topic). But if you’re unwell then rest up. Listen to your body… Unless all it says is cookies and wine by the fireplace… Then maybe listen to your brain.
Until next time remember, health is the best wealth.