During winter training in severe weather on dirty roads, it’s important for cyclists to armour the immune system. Don't miss precious training miles due to illness, and emerge from winter with a solid base ahead of the sportive season. Get into these good habits now for year-round health...
1. Avoid Snotty Socials
If you know a friend or family member is ill, avoid them! Our cycling circle of friends are always quick to admit when they’re infectious - and aren’t offended when we take a rain check. Likewise, if you do become ill, do everyone else a favour and stay home.
2. Colour Your Plate
Sportive training requires an optimal diet to boost immunity. Add a little extra colour to every plate to turn a beige bowl of food into a rainbow of vitamins.
At Struggle HQ, we pimp our porridge with fruit and seeds every morning. We add wilted spinach and pan-fried cherry tomatoes to our scrambled eggs. Any surplus veg from the fridge goes into our pasta sauces. And if we think our day is looking fruitless we whizz up a smoothie with frozen berries.
3. Hit the Vits
It’s often difficult to consume all the nutrients our bodies need from real foods. A great way to supplement your daily healthy menu is with added probiotics and vitamins in capsule form.
VitxCycle provides daily nutritional support for cyclists - delivered to your door. Their Protection, Recovery & Flexibility capsules provides a blend of essential vitamins and minerals for cyclists.
Including vitamins A, B1, B2, B5, B6, C along with iron and selenium, VitxCycle supplements help cyclists maintain normal function of the immune system, reduce tiredness and fatigue, promote red blood cell formation, protect cells from oxidative stress and maintain healthy bones.
4. Stress Less
Everyday work and life stresses suppress our immune system and make us prone to illness and infection. That’s why many professional athletes integrate mind - as well as body - exercises into their training plan to ensure they stay fit and healthy.
At Struggle HQ, our fave' stress remedies are the meditation app Headspace, a bath after a long ride, feet up in front of GCN, or a chill-out in one of our local coffee houses.
5. Max-out on Sleep
Sleep is the optimal way our body combats stress and strengthens our immune system. More importantly, sleep aids the body's adaptation after long sportive training rides. After all, the only training we're benefiting from is the training we're recovering from.
Ensure you get at least seven hours of sleep per night. For the data lovers, why not track your sleep with Whoop?
6. Don’t Suck Your Nipple!
Sportive training requires long, winter rides in wet, muddy conditions. Drinking from a bottle covered in germ-filled road spray is a recipe for illness.
That said, it’s important to stay hydrated for a fully operational immune system. Squirt the contents of your bottle into your mouth rather than touching the nipple to your lips. (No puns intended).
7. Insulate & Energize
Protect the body from illness by ensuring you keep your core temperature up while out on a long ride. Layer up and wear a gilet to keep the Arctic wind off your chest.
Here at Struggle HQ we love a cafe ride, but we never stop when it’s raining to avoid getting cold when sat in wet clothes. If it's forecast to rain, take a little extra food. Munch an energy bar or down a gel - and keep riding.
8. Recover from your Ride
After a long sportive training ride your body’s immune system will be suppressed and this is when you’re most prone to catching a cold. Ensure you practice good recovery techniques - as standard.
Eat protein 20 minutes after your ride, coupled with carbohydrate to replenish your glycogen stores, and always rehydrate well.
9. Accept Illness
Sore throat, sneezy, aching? These are sure signs you’re getting ill. It’s important not to ignore these alerts and continue to train. Stay off the bike until you have fully recovered. A week without riding is better than a month in bed.
It can be mentally tough to do so - especially when your sportive is looming - but training through illness will just dig you into a deeper hole and you’ll struggle to regain fitness.
10. Hold on to Good Habits
We should all be pros at practicing personal hygiene by now, such as washing your hands regularly.
At Struggle HQ we’re staying armed with personal hand sanitisers, which we carry in our pockets and use when leaving cafe stops, bike shops and other public places. We're also sticking with our masks in supermarkets and crowded places for extra protection during the winter.