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Tips to Avoid the Flu Season

December 07, 2015

Tips to Avoid the Flu Season

Keeping up with your training routine while you are fighting a cold or the flu is very bad advice.

by Patricia Schwager, ALP Cycles Coaching

Having to deal with a cold or flu is no fun. Getting sick is always a setback in training. It takes time and energy to recover from a cold or flu. The best thing we can do is to avoid the flu season or getting sick all together. However, we are not living in a bubble and this means we are exposed to infections. We also can’t avoid contact with other people in our daily life routine.

Our immune system is here to protect us from getting sick. However, after intense training, our immune system is stressed and can’t protect us as well as usual (open window). That “open window effect” has a duration of 3 to 72 hours and it’s when our bodies are most susceptible to infections and illness. This is why it is very important to get enough recovery and properly take care of your body, especially after a hard ride or workout.

Here are a few helpful tips and rules that can help you reduce the risk of getting a cold, sick, and/or the flu.

  • Consume a healthy diet of nutritious food – avoid processed food.
  • Maintain good hydration.
  • Maintain vitamin and mineral levels (especially vitamin C, D and zinc, taking some sort of multi vitamin is a good idea too).
  • Get enough rest and recovery after hard training sessions.
  • Get enough sleep at night (at least 7-8 hours).
  • Keep life stress to a minimum. Stress is just as hard on the immune system as hard training days.
  • Do not share food or drinks with anybody.
  • Minimize contact with sick people.
  • Keep your distance from coughing and sneezing people.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with your hands.
  • Carry a hand sanitizer with you to keep your hands clean (regular and thorough hand washing will reduce your chances of infection).
  • Wash your hands before eating or after contact with other people, bathrooms, public places.
  • Dry mucous membranes (in nose and throat) also makes it easier for bacteria and viruses to penetrate our immune system. Another reason to maintain good hydration (throat). You can also use a spray or cream for your nose, especially in dry and could climate and while traveling (airplane).
  • Avoid over training and chronic fatigue; stick to your training plan or talk to your coach at the first signs of fatigue, or illness.
  • Wear appropriate clothing to keep core body temperatures warm and avoid getting too cold.

In case you are getting sick with the cold/flu:

Keeping up with your training routine while you are fighting a cold or flu is very bad advice. Rest up and put your whole focus on getting healthy as soon as possible. No riding at all with fever symptoms.

Be aware when buying cough, cold, or flu medication. Off the shelf or over the counter products may contain prohibited substances. Double check with USADA ( before you buy or take any medication.

Once you are feeling ok again, you can start with some easy riding (low intensity!!!). You should only return to normal training if you are feeling 100% and energy levels are back to normal. Once you are feeling healthy, you can then step it up gradually back to normal. Ask your coach for advice. The most important rule is to always tell your coach as soon as possible when you are not feeling healthy or well.

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Patricia Schwager began cycling in 1998, racing as a junior. After racing on the domestic level and completing her Diploma as Pastry Chef, she got her first pro contract in 2006. 2015 will be here 10th year of professional racing. Patricia has a lot of experience racing in the European peloton. In 2013 she started working with Shawn Heidgen (Current ALP Cycles Coach) as her personal coach. In 2014 she changed her focus to racing in the US. Patricia is a 6 time national Swiss champion and has represented her home country, Switzerland, at the World Championships 12 times.

For 2015, Patricia will race for Team Tibco. Along with racing she’s looking to share and pass on her knowledge in her new role as an ALP Cycles Coach. Visit her online at


About ALP Cycles Coaching

ALP Cycles Coaching is located in the mountains of Colorado, and is a cycling coaching company with over 25 years of professional sports experience. ALP Cycles Coaching is unique in that we have 4 coaches, Alison Powers, Jennifer Triplett, and Patricia Schwager who each brings her own coaching strengths and personal experiences. We work together to create a training plan that works for each and every person. Visit them online at


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