When to back off

poster bike health

When to back off?………An important and  difficult question. When should you push it when you’re tired? Ignore a niggling injury? Disregard a sore throat?

If you’re anything like me, you’ll hate doing it and mentally attempt to tune out every signal thrown at you by your body. On the weekend for instance, I ignored a very sore throat and raced at Pembrey country park. My logic was ‘well…..I don’t enjoy watching when I could be doing, so I might as well do it anyway’. I didn’t feel good whilst racing, I was off the pace, slightly at sea and struggling for a top gear, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. As a consequence, on Monday I came down with a full-on all systems blasting chest infection. Right now I’m dosed up to the eyeballs and rattling when I shuffle around on account of all the medication jiggling in my stomach. Would the illness have broken in this way if I’d not raced? Maybe. Maybe not. But there’s no doubt that I gave it a little encouragement, weakening the immune system to let those bugs have a good old go at taking over for a little while. Now after two sleepless nights and a chest that feels like a reanactment of the garbage compactor scene in Star Wars, I’d probably do things a little differently.

This post however, is not a ‘woe-is’me-let-me-illicit-your-sympathy’ type of thing. Far from it. A chest infection is hardly the end of the world and we all take responsibility for our choices when we toe the start line. But what I’d like to do is draw your attention to one of the most important tenets in sport; Always listen to your body. Cycling  – and sport generally – is one of the best ways of ensuring health and well-being, provided you’re sensible. Check out muscular niggles. Look at the set up of your bike. Get a sports massage. Don’t ignore warning signs. Back off when you’re feeling slightly under the weather, perhaps opting for the turbo where you can step off if you’re feeling out of sorts. Don’t feel obliged. Nobody forces you to ride/train/race. Go with how you feel.

Anyway…..sermon over. I’m off to get this thing out of the system before the season ends. There’s still life in the old dog yet.

Generally bang on message public service poster via City of Buenos Aires and the La Comunidad ad agency.

9 replies »

  1. The old sages in the club say; if it’s above the neck get out and ride, if it’s below the neck stay in. Seems to ring pretty true. Good luck.

    • Sound advice! A chest infections is not the end of the world, but kicking myself slightly and mildly irritating. When you have a spare 5 minutes I’ll tell you my ‘running on a broken ankle for 16 miles’ story (it wasn’t really broken, but I thought my physio was going to be sick when she offered her diagnosis).

  2. Did the same at Brecon. Convinced myself it was nothing, then as soon as the race started I thought “hmm, this isn’t quite right”. Good luck shifting it and hopefully you’ll be back for the last round if not before.

    • Ouch! I’d be the same. Suggest gently testing it on the turbo (if you have one), but check out timing with a sympathetic medical person. My GPs attitude to any injury/illness I sustained changed entirely when he learned that I competed on the bike. Appointments now last longer, are very thorough and geared toward getting me back on the saddle in double quick time (bless him).

  3. Oh God – snap.

    3 hours on Saturday morning when the body was saying no, then 6 hours standing up and shouting for Cavendish at the Ghent 6 while pretending I only had a head cold.

    Chest infection, week at home, important fundraising meeting missed………

    Very grumpy too.

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