Over the month or so, I’ve been struggling to shake of a cold and chest infection. As we become more involved in our chosen sport, we are often driven by key performance variables such as increasing our strength, running pace, functional threshold power and maximal aerobic capacity. However, we sometimes overlook the fact that months of hard training, commitment and preparation can be set back by illness.
With the winter flu an cold season heading our way, it’s something that we should all bear in mind and take steps to mitigate. Research from the English Institute of Sport and UK Sport suggests that infection is one of the most common causes of lost training days across all sports over a four-year Olympic cycle. Most of these infections tend to be common to us each winter and includes upper respiratory tract infections (coughs and colds) and gastrointestinal infections (diarrhoea and/or vomiting).
We all know how easily these infections can be spread between family and work colleagues. They can also be just as easily spread between athletes, trainers, coaches and support staff, especially when there is direct contact such as treatment at a physio. We tend to be more vulnerable to catching these infections during periods of heavy training, travelling or during competition due to the additional stress on our immune system.
Prevention is always better than the cure. Stick to the basics and ensure you reduce the spread of infection with these simple hygiene measures:
Wash your hands frequently
Be considerate to others if you’re feeling unwell to prevent the spread of infection.
Don’t share water bottles.
Avoid contact with potential sources of infection where possible, particularly during periods or heavy training and competition.
These simple measures can help you mitigate the risk of infection and improve your availability for training.