HealthTrainingBack to School: Staying Healthy

FasterSkier FasterSkierSeptember 2, 2010

Josh Smullin is the XC Ability coach for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. He races for Team Rossignol.

School has started and the weather is about to get colder.  You will soon be spending more time indoors in close quarters with germs and the combination of these stressors increases your likelihood of getting sick.

I want to give you a few guidelines to follow that can increase your chances of staying healthy this fall.  The best way to increase your fitness this year is to stay healthy and consistently meet the training goals we have set.  To be a successful Nordic skier you must pay attention to energy expenditure in all aspects of your life.

1. Drink water throughout the day and keep hydrated.  Bring a water bottle to school!

2. Wash your hands all the time and eat foods with a fork and knife instead of picking them up with your hands.  Keep your hands away from your face and especially eyes.

3. Change into dry clothing after training on cold days and take a warm shower when you get home.

4. Eat a carbohydrate rich snack (Chocolate Milk,/PBandJ etc.) Immediately after training.  Ensure that you have adequate iron and protein in your diet (particularly women &/or vegetarians).  Include unsaturated fats (avocados, nuts, olive oil) in your diet.

5. Try to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night! Your efforts to take care of yourself directly impact your ability to head out the door for another productive workout. Conversely, piling up lots of quasi-productive workouts while not taking care of yourself is a recipe for being sick, hurt, overdone, and unmotivated come early fall.

If you begin to feel sick and/or tired, there are several ways to fend off a nasty virus or cold.  Try any and all of these methods:

1. Take zinc such as Zicam throat spray or Cold Eeze.  I have had some great results taking these especially just before I go to bed 15 minutes after I brush my teeth.

2. Echinacea.

3. Vitamin C – up to 1000mg an hour.  You can also buy vitamin C lozenges and take them throughout the day to keep your throat moist.

4. Garlic – include in your diet.

5. Green Tea – In the morning.

6. Saline nasal spray can be bought from most grocery stores.  You can keep your nasal passages moist by spraying it in your nose several times a day. Other options include using a Water Pik, or Neti pot filled with non-iodized table salt to flush out your nasal passages.  This is an extremely effective technique and can keep a low-grade virus from becoming a sinus infection, or worse.

7. Another thing to try is to do some cold/hot exchanges with water. Easiest thing is to use a shower and turn the water as cold as you can stand for 10-15 secs, then go to hot for 10-15 secs, back and forth maybe 3-4 times. Focus on your primary ski muscle groups as best you can. This is very similar to the Northern European jumping out of the sauna into the snow. Can really stimulate recovery and just wake up your body enough to train or race. I’ve seen remarkable progress with this in big event weeks so it’s not just for illness.

8. Gargle with antiseptic mouthwash up to 8 times throughout the day.

If these techniques do not help and you do get sick, here are a few rules to follow:

1. Don’t work out AT ALL, if you have a fever over 100 degrees.

2. Do not do intensity or long distance workouts.

3. If you have a cold with symptoms of only a runny nose, or mild sore throat, light workouts such as weights, plyos, circuits, 30-60 min EASY distance may help you to recover quicker because keeping your body moving helps you to flush out the sickness.

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