Training despite a cold? – Yes!

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As long as you pay attention to a few things, a bit of exercise is good for the body – even when your nose is running.

Active people not only have a fitter body than couch potatoes, they also have a stronger immune system. This results from sport improving the immune system. Exercise makes the body more resistant to germs.

At some point, however, sportsmen and sportswomen might still get it: a runny nose, a sore throat, a slight headache – should you really go running now? The answer is: Yes, but take it easy!

Fit for running?

Good preparation is the be-all and end-all. It is thus advisable to dress appropriately. For example, a scarf around the mouth ensures that the cold and dry winter air is not inhaled directly.

If you have a cold, the warm-up before the run is best done in the living room. If you already feel that you are not feeling as well as you need for training, this is a good point to stop – and stay at home to get some rest.

The same applies outside, of course: If, for example, at kilometer three, you notice that you can’t perform as usual, the best way to finish the run is to walk back home.

Recovery thanks to easy exercise

Amateurs, in particular, tend to “ignore” their body feeling when it indicates an illness. However, this is not a favor to their organism.

Moderate movement supports the immune defense during a cold. A side effect of running is that the nasal mucous membrane is better supplied with blood and the respiratory tract is well “ventilated”. Both promote recovery.

However, too intensive training has the opposite effect: it weakens the body and makes it susceptible to injury and infection. In concrete terms, this means no high-intensity training during colds, no plyometric training, no interval training and of course no participation in a competition. No wrong ambition at the wrong time!

No training in case of fever

Fever is – in the truest sense of the word – a no-go. The reason: during sport, the body core temperature rises. Fever plus sport can increase body temperature to such an extent that vital proteins in the body are destroyed. Also, the body is not ready for training if it generally feels ill, experiences dizziness, a sore throat, breathing problems or if the cough increases during activity. If at least one of these symptoms persists, it is better to pause.

Optimal recovery depends on many factors. Sufficient fluid, enough sleep and a balanced diet are the keys to a rapid return to your training routine.

Training during colds

In general, it is important not to push the limits during training if you have a cold. Slight sweating during running is good in this situation, but full sweating would be too much for the body.

A good guideline is the pulse rate. If the resting pulse in the morning is higher than usual, it might indicate that the body is still occupied with the immune defense. In this case, it is better to skip a workout.

People who know their heart rate zones (training pulse) on the running track, can orient themselves towards it during training. If the heart beats faster or the stage feels more strenuous than usual, then the body needs more protection – and this immediately, not after completing the run.

In addition to running, casual strength training, gymnastics or stretching can also be useful. Swimming would also be suitable from the point of view of physical exertion but is not advisable during a cold. The disinfectant in the water can irritate the respiratory tract additionally and the germs in the warm indoor pool will do the rest.

Tips:

  • Highly intensive training sessions and competitions are forbidden during colds
  • If it’s cold outside, it’s better to put on a layer more than usual if you have a cold.
  • If you have a severe cold, drink enough, sleep enough, eat healthy, give yourself time and ensure that stress is kept within limits.
  • A good training plan improves both your fitness and the immune system. Exercising at the right time and at the right intensity is more effective than always putting the pedal to the metal during training.

Author: Raphael Huber, MSc. Movement and Sports Science, MAS in Nutrition & Health, Medbase Winterthur WIN4

 

Stair climbing for runners

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Do you want to spice up your training? All you need is a staircase. With different staircase climbing variations you can train your leg strength specific to running and set a new stimulus. So, let’s go and say hello to your staircase challenge!

Benefits of stair climbing

  • You train your running-specific strength endurance.
  • Your impression (plyometrics) becomes more powerful. You will not only benefit from this when running uphill, but also on a flat surface, a space-filling step is of advantage. In addition, active footwork helps to stay injury-free.
  • It’s a very effective training and there is a new stimulus for the cardiovascular system.
  • The playful training brings variety to your winter workout and is also an ideal option concerning safety, as you can look for a lighted or even an inside staircase when it’s dark outside. Stair climbing as a training can of course also be included in summer workouts.

General tips for stair climbing:

  • Stair climbing should only be carried out when warmed up.
  • Caution in wet conditions: You might want to switch to an indoor option.
  • Stair climbing can be a good substitute for a short interval training unit.
  • Quality before quantity always applies to stair climbing, as a clean and dynamic execution is important to avoid injury.
  • During each execution, the body remains stable: Special attention applies to the torso, which should always be tightened during the training.
  • A cool down should be carried out afterwards. Nevertheless, you may feel the staircase training the next day with sore muscles, especially at the beginning.

Possible sequence of a staircase training unit

  • 10 to 15 minutes of warm up
  • Mobilize joints, 3 interval runs
  • 10 to 15 minutes of stair climbs in a row (more than one passage possible) – usually at full speed up and down. Choose your favorites of the exercise collection below (or try all of them!):
    • Skipping and coordinative climbing down the stairs (don’t forget to include a short break at the bottom of the stairs as this is intense, too)
    • Ankle jumps
    • Frequency runs sideways (both sides)
    • Squat jumps (if the downhill jumps are also included, again, take the break at the bottom of the stairs)
    • Sideway jumps
    • One-legged jumps (both legs)
  • 10 to 15 minutes of cool-down, then stretching

Collection of exercises: Stair climbing

The exercises will be shown by Judith Wyder, 5 times OL World Champion and one of the fastest runners of Switzerland.

Skipping and coordinative climbing down the stairs

In skipping, every step is done explosively, and the knee is pulled up. A good coordinative exercise is the staircase-downhill, but beware: start slowly!

Ankle jumps

The toes are actively pulled upwards, jumping off with your forefoot. The knees always point forward to ensure a good leg axis.

Frequency runs sideways

The movement is carried out at a 90° angle to the staircase. The leg frequency is high, and a coordinated arm work is key for this exercise.

Squat jumps

Squat jumps, also called frog jumps, can be varied depending on the level: Try to take 1, 2, 3 or 4 steps in one. The jumps can be dynamic or static, depending on the goal. A good leg axis is important for both. The downhill jumps should be approached carefully – Attention: We warned you about the potential of muscle soreness!

Sideway jumps

Power and coordination in one, no matter whether you exercise them statically or dynamically. This exercise is especially recommended for trail runners and cross-country skiers.

One-legged jumps

There’s more to these one-legged jumps than one might think, no matter if you take every step or jump over some of them. Also, the jumps should be carried out in an explosive way.

These videos have been kindly provided by indurance and Judith Wyder.

Author of this blog entry: Stefanie Meyer

Running training in low temperatures

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Hello, Winter Wonderland! Or should we say, hello cold temperatures and frozen, icy roads? One thing is for sure: winter and running training aren’t mutually exclusive. However, it is worth noting certain points and you might have to make some adaptations in your training in some cases.   

We are going to show you how you can organise your training the best way possible in winter conditions, as a solid winter training makes you both physically and mentally strong for the next season.

Controlled breathing in very low temperatures

In winter, our muscous membranes are generally irritated, as we stay a lot inside in warm and, more importantly, dry air. This makes things easy for bacteria and viruses. This effect is reinforced by the cold air outside.

Generally, at low temperatures, breathing through your nose is recommended, possibly requiring a reduction in running pace. Breathing through your nose, the air is cleaned, heated up to body temperature and saturated with water vapour. If the intensity is too high for you to breath through your nose, a cloth covering your mouth works as well.

Never without warming up

No matter if it’s a base run, an high intensity training or a competition; a good warming up is important both for your lungs and your muscles. Thus, start slowly and take your time for your muscles to get warm. This is especially important for intervals, middle pace sessions and competitions. Deliberately plan more time for your warm-up.

Appropriate clothing

Generally, one should make sure not to put on too much clothing. The best way to do it is to follow the onion principle, also called the «three-layers-principle ». The first layer should be a tight functional shirt (moisture transfer), the second layer can be chosen depending on the given temperature, but should also consist of functional fibres, and the third layer serves as protection (water-repellent, wind stopper). Cap and gloves provide further warmth. It is important to always cover your achilles tendons during the cold time of the year. After training, put on a cap as soon as possible, in order to avoid unnecessary waste of energy.

A must during winter is to mind your own (and others’) safety in the dark: wear reflecting clothes, running vest and/or a head torch.

Ground surface

Running through new snow is, of cours, great fun. However, it is also more exhausting, which is why the intensity needs to be adjusted to the ground surface. Special caution is needed if the surface is slippery or frozen. Firstly, because of increased risk of falling and secondly, because of the great strains that the constant balancing and stabalising mean for your body. In this case, it is sensible to transfer the training to a treadmill.

Training duration and intensity

In very low temperatures, training durations should be reduced, training intensities should be decreased, or trainings should be conducted inside altogether. In our running.COACH training plan, this can be regulated/indicated by a minus sign. A good warm-up is especially important in the cold as well as starting slowely and building up speed progressively.

Alternative training or fitness centre

If it is cold or icy outside, it is sensible to conduct one or the other session in the water (swimming, aqua jogging), on cross-country skis or in snowshoes.

Nutrition

Even during winter, sufficient supply of liquid is important both before, during and after a session. Thus, after training especially, drink enough and refill your carbohydrate reserves with a high-energy snack, as you burn more calories in the cold.

Positive effects of winter training

  • It helps to resist the winter blues
  • It offers a lot of new possibilities for training
  • It burns additional calories, which helps to avoid the winter fat deposits
  • It gives your immune system an extra boost
  • It makes you mentally stronger

So, keep on running, brave the winter and get the maximum out of you for the next season!