Q&A: Post-illness recovery

I am 61 and have enjoyed good health, riding 5-6,000 miles a year, mainly over fairly demanding terrain. I am not disgraced on the local club runs, which are never easy and are usually ridden at a sporting pace.

Last winter, I had a couple of heavy, chesty colds. Since then, my health has been poor and my fitness is suffering. For much of the past year, I’ve experienced a general malaise with low energy, mildly cold-like symptoms and an ill-defined sense of not feeling well. I continue to ride my bike, but have cut my mileage and pace drastically. I’ve had numerous blood tests and examinations but my GP has not been able to detect anything specific.

It seems I’m suffering from post-viral syndrome. Do you have any advice on how best to manage this type of condition so as to promote recovery? 
Andrew Smith

Dealing with illness-related fatigue is never easy, but you’ve done the right things by visiting your GP and reducing the volume and intensity of your rides. At 61 with a good fitness record you should be able to get back to the riding you were doing previously, although you may need to be patient.

The symptoms you describe are often experienced by athletes who suffer from overtraining, a condition caused by a long-term build-up of training load, usually where the volume of training at a high intensity has been excessive and prolonged. It could be that your initial viral infections occurred because you were run down as the outcome of the fairly hard riding you had done.

My advice would be to take a couple of weeks’ rest off the bike. A holiday somewhere warm would be ideal; failing that, a low-key period of time at home with plenty of sleep, healthy food and fluids.
It’s likely you would then be able to begin riding again, starting at low volume and intensity then building back up until you feel a return to full fitness.

Although it’s tempting to jump back in the saddle as quickly as you can, both the recovery period and subsequent cycling plans need to be carefully managed in order not to impede the healing process – so don’t rush your comeback.

Rob Mortlock is a BC coach

Have you got a training question? If so send your training plan to
: robert_hicks@ipcmedia.com

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This article was first published in the December 5 issue of Cycling Weekly. Read Cycling Weekly magazine on the day of release where ever you are in the world International digital edition, UK digital edition. And if you like us, rate us!