A Staten Island triathlete and endurance coach ventures into the ultramarathon realm where there are seemingly no limits to human endurance. In 2013, he successfully finished the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning (picture of 2013 Grand Slam finishers above; I'm second from right), becoming only the 282nd person (since its beginnings in 1986) and only the fourth New Yorker to finish four of the oldest and most prestigious 100 mile ultramarathons in the U.S. in only 10 weeks.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Thoughts - March 7 - Training With a Cold, Group Trail Runs

It's Monday again, although I don't think you need to be reminded.

The past 4-5 days I've been saddled with a particularly nasty cold. Although I was able to do most of the training last week, it still was tough to actually get focused to do them.

Colds can be nasty things. Sometimes they just throw your schedule out of whack for a week, or even more if the cold is severe enough.

The decision to train while under the weather is a dicey one for a lot of athletes. What should your ultimate decision be each time you need to train? Should you train anyway? Should you bag it? Or maybe train a bit easier than what you normally would have done?

For all the technical stuff coaches tend to give, I always try to simplify things so that anyone can understand. People like using plain English to try to explain things.

So I narrowed it down to 2 rules.

1) If you have a fever for ANY reason, do NOT train at all.

2) If you're not running a temperature, but your cold is making you feel abnormally fatigued, it's strongly recommended you bag your training for the day.

Now the technical mumbo-jumbo...

Fundamentally speaking, exercise breaks down the muscles in your body in anticipation that they will heal stronger than what they were before you exercise. This breaking down of the body does have costs associated with it; it has to work to heal that muscle back, right?

A cold is basically your body's way of fighting off an invader to the system (viral or bacterial). This fight also comes with costs as the immune system has to use energy to fight off the invader.

Now, if you do exercise while having a cold, there is a good chance that you tax your body enough so that both your healing and your immunity could be impaired.

If your body is taxed too much, and your immunity system is compromised, this might lead to a more serious cold.

When you feel unnaturally fatigued, this is your body telling you that the cold is pretty serious and that the body using a lot of its energy just to fight it off. If you try to exercise on top of this, you might compromise the system and the cold might progress to a more serious state.

Better to bag the training and let your body fight this cold off. Missing training for 2 days will not destroy your season.

A fever is a more serious condition. This should tell you that the body has a desperate fight on its hands and is resorting to the more drastic measure of raising the body's core temperature to fight off the infection. Never, NEVER, exercise when you have a fever.

On the other hand, if you have the sniffles or sneeze a lot, but you are not overly fatigued at all, you can definitely train while under the weather. Just monitor your condition carefully; if you start to feel any abnormal fatigue coming on, then you might want to reconsider your training.

That's it! Two rules. There's nothing technical about them. As long as you listen to your body, you're fine.

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This past weekend I did manage to train in the midst of a cold. I was not abnormally fatigued at all (although I was getting tired of sneezing). Today, it seems like I'm finally getting rid of the cold. Hooray for me.

I did manage 40 miles of running last week. This week I will try 55 miles of running this week. Hopefully without a cold.

And now, I start running regularly on the trails. The snow is all gone now. Good riddance winter. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

I would like to open up my long runs to those who are interested in running long. Starting this Saturday and every 2 weeks afterward, I will be running long in either Staten Island or in New Jersey (maybe altering between the two). If you want to come on down, you are surely invited. We will go slow, and I will supply some water and Clif Bars.

The first run is this Saturday (March 12) on the Greenbelt White Trail at 7AM and 9AM. We will start at Great Kills Park. Park in the main parking lot near the bathrooms. The early group will start promptly at 7AM, doing a 10 mile loop (people can certainly do less mileage if they want). After the 10 mile loop, the early group will pick up the 9AM group and do the second 10 mile loop. 

You can do either loop or both if you're enterprising enough.

The second run is in Cheesequake Park on Saturday March 26, about 15 minutes away from Staten Island. Same times (7AM and 9AM), same distances. Again, water and Clif Bars will be available.

If you are from Staten Island and want to carpool I do have 3 spots available in my car. This way, bridge tolls won't be a problem.

If you have questions regarding the 2 runs, you can e-mail me at ironpete@ironpete.com

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