At this time of year, when most bike racers are putting in lots of hours on the bike, and the air outside is cold and dry, and the air inside is hot and dry, and some racers are dieting or already close to race weight, sickness is always lurking around the corner. But the big question is, what should a bike racer do when he or she gets sick?
WHEN IS OKAY TO TRAIN?
I've always heard if it's above the neck you're good to train; below the neck, don't train. If you have a fever, don't train.
In terms of training schedule, if I'm sick above the neck and don't have any races or anything coming up, I'll just continue my training as usual except remove harder efforts. I also minimize anything that makes me breathe hard outside in the cold, dry air to avoid aggravating my throat.
If I'm sick above the neck and I have a race coming up I'll totally rest to try and get better before the race. I think it makes my top end not quite as high, but being sick makes me overall slower. In terms of training I just rearrange my training schedule for it to be a rest week. Same thing if I'm sick below the neck or have a fever.
GETTING HEALTHY FASTER
Obviously everyone wants to get back to health fast in order to start training again (I guess to feel good generally too, but that's kinda secondary, right???). I have a teammate who swears by Zicam, and we have a Dr. on the team who echoes that. I tried it last time I was sick but started it too late to be able to tell if it helped for certain.
That said, I've generally done similar to taking Zicam by taking a double dose of vitamins, as well as upping my intake of nutrient rich foods (OJ, kale salads, things like that). I take a Calcium/Magnesium/Zinc supplement when training hard as well, or when sick. Sometimes when sick I won't feel thirsty as often, but I think it's important to stay very hydrated to flush things out. Like most things in life, I also thinking have a positive attitude about getting over being sick (and not worrying about it that much) actually helps to get over it faster.
So does all that work? I believe it does for me! But obviously I'm not a doctor or nutritionist, and everyone is different.