Training when feeling ill

This subject has been touched on in other threads but should surely have its own (I searched Tritalk training when ill on Google and it did not bring up a thread on here) ?
This is very relevant for me now because I feel am coming down with another Cold and am hammering the Vicks First Defence at the moment !

On the one hand I think it is accepted that training (hard training ? ) when ill, even with “just” a cold, can potentially cause severe health issues.
But on the other hand if one avoids training every time one feels under the weather one would miss a significant proportion of ones training and lose significant fitness.

What policies do the esteemed members of this forum advise and/or adopt ?

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Problem is, how do you know it’s a cold when it first comes on? I trained through “a cold” that turned out to be whooping cough and it totally wiped me out. I had to stop everything to get over it and I never did restart.

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I’ve learnt the hard way to back right off - even if you are mildly ill.

Very simply, the body has finite resources - if you ask it to spend some of those resources on recovering from a training session, then you deny those resources from fighting the illness.

Best case you extend your recovery by 2/3 days, worst case you leave the door open for a worse illness. Don’t forget you won’t be getting much training adaptation even if you do grind the session out: the body will have illness recovery as a higher priority then improving your ability to ride your bike at Z3!

Heart rate is my indicator; I have a good gauge of expected heart rate for Z2 bike - if I am say 5 bpm above expected I’ll probably run with Z2 (no higher), if at goes to 10bpm above climb off. Repeat until HR is in the right area.

Plus, we’re amateurs and its f*cking miserable trying to train through when you feel absolute shite, no need!


If symptoms are in the head & throat I’ll train but with caution & monitor myself frequently.

If it’s migrated to my respiratory system intensity of training is dropped even more, as this is when there can be more risk than reward.

I’ll also add that it’s just not cricket to go swimming when full of snot :sneezing_face: .


I always worked to a similar rule. If the symptoms are above the neck I’d train, but nothing too hard; if below the neck (I.E. chest), knock it on the head until better.


If all the objective measures (resting heart rate, temperature and blood oxygen levels) are all normal, is that good to go ?

Quite often I can have quite a bad cough, but once I get in the pool it gets very much better. My 10 year old lad even more so, he was coughing himself silly, but once in the pool it pretty much disappeared, he had loads of energy and he swam well.
Warm damp atmosphere perhaps ?

Sometimes I have gone swimming even when I feel definitely under the weather, resolving to just do techniques swims, but once I’m in I feel OK !
“Just working on technique” rarely works for me anyway, one way or another I find myself working harder than I meant to.

These are objective measures…it is their interpretation which is subjective…

Covid ? :wink: :slight_smile:

It depends on what is causing the cough and any additional symptoms…

Resting HR for me…in the low 50s means I am fatigued…any higher then i am likely to be unwell…

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Sorry, a typo, since corrected…

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no drama!

we all make subjective interpretations all the time…that’s what the purist scientists don’t recognise…

I know this has been covered in another thread, but just to keep it all together, does anyone use Vicks First Defence, and have they found it works ?

@SheffSwim1 a really good question and thread.

A mate of mine (Hinckley CC) had a cold on the chest and did his usual hill reps on the bike (he was top man in the club, sub 20 10k, hill climb guru etc etc).

To cut a long story short, he had an enlargened heart after that and had to be really careful with his training and he always said post that he’d learned his lession, head cold ok but on the chest no no.

Probably echoing the low HR and other feedback on the thread.

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Part of the reason why I do this nonsense is too ensure I get out everyday. I find this is very important to me mentally speaking. Therefore covid/cold/whatever I go out if I am upright.

But of course as others have said intensity is way way down. For example, Covid I walked 5-6k a day, (i did not have it bad), but then ran slowly for circa 3 weeks until the HR to pace started to behave again.
so to expand, I go easy, my max easy run HR is 130, which is 4:45-5min/k when normal, but if I feel a bit naff I will walk parts, jog at 6min/k whatever to keep the HR down. But I will always do something. Maybe not the smartest from a physiological point of view, but life is more than that


This echoes what I remember reading about a study of orienteers many years ago. They concluded that heart problems could result from training (I assume she meant hard training) whilst having only a “cold”.

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I find training is essential for me to keep sane in this world which I find increasingly stressful and, TBH, increasingly do not like as much as I used to .
However down I feel, getting in the pool and working hard always makes me feel better, it works far better than any drugs, and with only positive side effects.
Obviously I also want to keep up my speed / fitness/ strength, but it’s even worse than that actually because I have always bribed myself to train, and I want the huge piece of cheesecake which I only get if I do a training session !
Thus there are several powerful motivators working on me to train.

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All these measures were OK last night so I trained.
I got through it but I felt a bit short of breath (though I can sometimes fell like that with no illness symptoms) and weak, though the latter could have been due to a bit of weights I’d done the day before.
My cough was almost absent once in the pool hall.
Bottom line is I didn’t enjoy it much and was counting down the reps to get out, but the session still improved my mood (and I got my piece of cheesecake…).

I caught a cold over the weekend and 40ish days from race day didn’t want to stop entirely.

I had another 16h+ week planned with three big sessions, so I did one 1h workout Monday, exercises fine feeling rough.

Tuesday woke up to the heavy cold but no fever or shivers just feeling rough and snotty, stayed in bed working and swapped out my training week for the planned recovery week next week.
Went out pm for a super easy run in the evening (easy pace plus 1min/km). And three glasses of red for medicinal purposes.

Weds feeling a bit better. Easy ride outside at lunch. Endurance ride on the trainer in the evening.

Thurs feeling a fair bit better, ran 40mins with 10min tempo at lunch and 1hr endurance ride in the evening. Still quite tired but working out at these intensities is no problem.

So in summary, if your body feels good exercising at recovery/endurance levels cut back the volume but keep some movement in your day. If you try an easy ride and feel awful, quit and get back to bed.

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