Why do I get ill when I start training? Last year it was a repetitive untreatable ear

infection, which came on after training.

I also suffer from swollen knees, and get every cold going. My diet is good and I used to be an international athlete. I am 37.

Steve Edwards, via email

Those who have previously trained at a high level can later suffer with poor immune function. High-intensity, long duration training can have a negative effect on the immune system, unlike moderate training which boosts immune function. You may be trying to return too quickly to an ?elite? training load and therefore picking up bugs each time you train.

It can be tough to hold yourself back, but devise a training plan with only 10 per cent training load progression per week. Begin with a short, low-intensity ride for the first week, then slowly increase training, allowing your body to adapt gradually. Build an endurance base first, putting speed and strength work in only when your body is coping well with your mileage.

It is sensible to reduce training volume every fourth week to allow your body to adapt. As your diet is sound, I?d recommend using a colostrum product once a day, as this has been shown to reduce infection rates in athletes. Also invest in a vitamin and mineral formula designed for active lives. However, if you are still getting ill, see your doctor for a general health check.

Lynn Clay

Nutritionist

Former runner and expert on all things dietary