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  1. #1
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    Flu all week; should I race tomorrow?

    Hi All

    I can't figure out if I should race tomorrow or not. I thought you all might be able to share some wisdoms with me.

    I have had an outstanding winter of training - until last Sunday when I skipped a ride because I felt I was coming down with something. Monday-Wednesday I was pretty much bedridden with the flu, and yesterday and today I am on the upswing. Today, Friday, I would say I'm 90%, but probably I am not quite well enough to go for a ride today, but I think the trend is positive enough that I'll be able to ride tomorrow.

    Tomorrow's race, a crit, is an important one for me, call it a "B" race. It's the first race of the year for my category of frenemies, which is cat 4/45+.

    Here are some of the various thoughts running through my head:
    - I certainly won't be in top shape tomorrow - at the minimum I'll have stale legs. I'm going to get crushed.
    - Don't be a wuss; push through
    - don't take the start line if you're not in it to win it
    - racing is training is racing
    - give 'er a go and see what happens
    - just be conservative and rest
    - At this stage of my illness a hard ride won't impact my recovery (I think)
    - If I wake up feeling like I want to ride my bike, then race; otherwise, don't.
    - If I wake up feeling like I want to ride my bike, then go ride my bike; but don't race, you'll just get crushed and there's no point to it.

    So what would you all do?

  2. #2
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    As long as you are well hydrated going in, you'll be fine. If fact, I had a very strong showing once in a similar situation. The time off actually refreshed me. I started feeling slow and sluggish but quickly turned to feeling strong.

    Good luck and the worse thing that happens is you finish at 90% of your potential peak effort.
    You're just trying to start an argument to show how smart you are.

  3. #3
    So it is LAJ's Avatar
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    If you can get on the bike, and feel like you can keep it upright, you may as well do it. I went into Cobb Lake with the same issue. The Weds before was the first day I could get on the bike and do 100W without sweating buckets. I surprised myself at the race.

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    Thanks for the support you two. I decided to race even after a night of little sleep and lots of coughing. I wasn't quite 100% on the start line, but not all that miserable. I ended up having the opposite of a "no chain day", whatever that's called. Ended up hanging with the pack until the last 1/2 lap at which point my lungs spoke up declared that clearing mucus was more important than increasing oxygen supply, and I trailed in at the back of the pack.

    I actually spent a lot of time riding near LAJ - we're both getting better and I'm sure results will start coming soon.

    It was fun and I'm glad I did it, although it might have set my illness back a skosh.

  5. #5
    Resident Alien Racer Ex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rapwithtom View Post
    It was fun and I'm glad I did it, although it might have set my illness back a skosh.
    I missed this thread when it was first posted. But for future reference:

    My advice would have been "no", for the reason above. You'll likely end up DFL, and further behind in your training and performing worse in later races than if you just sat one out and rested.

    Time after time I've seen people try to race or train while still ill and yep, in a lot of cases they end up sicker for longer. In some cases much worse off. In a few cases they end up in the hospital. You're telling your immune system to go **** itself by racing or training hard while you're ill. And if you're still phlegmed up it's a great path for bacteria to get in your lungs.

    If it was Nats or Worlds or your "A" race then I'd give it a shot. But it was April and a "B" race.

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    Good to know, as I sit here with what I think is day one of the flu.
    ...

  7. #7
    So it is LAJ's Avatar
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    In my case, I was off the bike and trainer for over a week, and I was on the backside of the flu. I think it actually helped finish it off.

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    Got Flu..... Get a Tamaflu prescription from your doc right away. It is an antiviral that works really well if taken within 48 hours of symptoms. Once you are sick enough to go to the doc, a Tamaflu regimen will not work.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

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    Quote Originally Posted by LAJ View Post
    In my case, I was off the bike and trainer for over a week, and I was on the backside of the flu. I think it actually helped finish it off.
    I know of zero medical or physiologic basis to accept the premise that you can "finish off" an illness by racing. While in your case it might not have negatively impacted you, it's pretty much a stretch to accept that it positively affected you beyond a placebo effect.

    Not to say that the placebo effect isn't something to be reckoned with from time to time.

  10. #10
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    I don't think there is much to be gained but there is much to be lost. Give it another week. It's only April.
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

  11. #11
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    I have read some "guidelines" for training and racing when sick. If the cold is above the neck, it is okay to train and race and if it is below the neck (chest) then rest and very easy riding, if any. If there is anything in the chest and one gasps for air or breathes deeply, it is more probable to infect more of the lungs. If I feel better riding hard at the end of an illness, it is happenstance and the illness would have been better anyway.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Einstein

  12. #12
    So it is LAJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Racer Ex View Post
    I know of zero medical or physiologic basis to accept the premise that you can "finish off" an illness by racing. While in your case it might not have negatively impacted you, it's pretty much a stretch to accept that it positively affected you beyond a placebo effect.

    Not to say that the placebo effect isn't something to be reckoned with from time to time.
    I agree with that completely, Racer Ex.

  13. #13
    Senior Member shovelhd's Avatar
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    So how is the OP feeling today?

    I agree with Ex. I tend to favor rest over anything else when I'm sick. I got the flu earlier this year, a nasty strain that kept coming back. Several non-athlete friends got it, and couldn't get rid of it, either, so its persistence had little to do with my training regimen. Three weeks worth, right in the middle of base season.

  14. #14
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Another vote for rest. The older I get, the less sense I think it makes to train or race when ill. Old immune systems are more vulnerable than young ones at the best of times. Athletes in training put more stress on their immune systems than other people. Add these two things together and I can see only bad things coming from trashing an already compromised system.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by shovelhd View Post
    So how is the OP feeling today?
    Moderately, thank you for asking. The flu symptoms (fever, chill) are long gone, but the persistent cough, which began the night before the race, persists. I wonder if the racing aggravated the pre-existing lung irrititation.

    I have a history of being an aggressive rester when ill. In this case, I had put so much work into my fitness over the winter, that watching my form wither tested my patience to the breaking point, and I decided to try something a bit more aggressive.

    I guess in hindsight perhaps I shouldn't have raced but it's not clear.

    In any case I am now trying to simply be patient and buddha-like; surely this illness cost me some fitness, but it's small potatoes and more importantly I know that my lifestyle changes over the last few months have caused a 2-4% drop in body fat and a bike fitness like I've never had before, and that both will come back shortly.

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