Resources 16 Aug 2012

BCP Moto Coach: Common Colds

Learn how to fight off those mid-season common colds in this latest edition of BCP Moto Coach.

There aren’t too many things that will send your season into a flat spin quite as fast as catching a cold at the wrong time. And when do they not happen at the wrong time?

Aside from dropping your fitness level dramatically, a cold will have you feeling like you are spaced out on the moon while losing most of your ‘much needed’ coordination. Let’s take a look at firstly how to avoid these things and secondly, how to deal with them when we do.

One of the most critical factors in both avoiding a cold and dealing with one is your diet.Starting with a good balanced diet is a great way to get the ball rolling.

Plenty of fruits and vegetables with a good amount of grains such as wholemeal breads, pasta, rice and cereals while not overdoing the fatty junk foods will keep your energy levels up while making sure your immune system is functioning well (our bodies defence against colds).

Unless you are a vegetarian it is important to eat a decent amount of lean meat such as beef, lamp, chicken and fish.mBy the way, if you are a vegetarian you may want to look at a protein supplement and also possibly an iron tablet.

One thing to remember in the diet department is that quite often dairy products will increase mucous production which can quite often help you catch a cold.

Some people deal better with dairy products than other people but personally I steered well clear of cows milk, cheese and chocolate during the race season as I knew for me it would almost double my chance of catching a cold.

And if I already had a cold and had milk products it would pretty much double the time I had the cold while increasing the symptoms. Trial and error will help determine whether you are a person that can or cannot handle dairy well.

The food you consume will enhance your chances of fighting away colds. Image: Simon Makker/

A good substitute for dairy milk is soy milk or even rice milk. Cheese is a bit of a luxury that you don’t necessarily need to include in your diet but there is also a wide range of non dairy cheeses on the market.

You need to remember though if you drop dairy products from your diet without substituting with a soy or some other high calcium product then you will need to take some calcium supplements.

Far and above the main factor I have found over the years of racing and catching untimely colds is the amount of water you consume.

Nine times out of ten when I would catch a cold right in the middle of the race season I would look back over the last couple of days and realise that I hadn’t drank nearly enough water. This is especially important for athletes as they are training constantly and need ridiculous amounts of water to keep hydrated.

I honestly was so bad at remembering to drink water that it wasn’t funny. My mechanics job was just as much to remind to drink water as it was to spin spanners on my bike. He’d be walking around with a spanner in one hand and a bottle of water in the other.

Personally I feel that the average punter should be going through at least a 1.5 litre water each day. Now for the average athlete it jumps up to around 2.5 litres per day and that isn’t even on a difficult day or a hot day.

All these factors need to be brought into consideration. When you are drinking water in this quantity it is recommended to drink a good portion in the morning and not leave the majority until the afternoon/night or you will be up all night going to the toilet and grumpy the next day from lack of sleep.

The main supplements you need to consider for preventing or dealing with a cold is vitamin C and B. Both of these vitamins are water soluble so work best when taken just after food (preferably breakfast) where the vitamins can latch onto some food and get absorbed into your system.

Drinking water is vital for building a strong immune system. Image: Simon Makker/

If you take you water soluble vitamins on an empty stomach then the next time you urinate it will look the colour of Ryan Dungey’s front fender.

This is because you have flushed most of your good vitamins straight out. There are a bunch of foods that have plenty of vitamin B and C in them but here’s a small list to try to include in your diet:

• Orange juice and/or oranges
• Blackcurrant juice
• Most fruits and vegetables

Make sure you read labels or consult your health professional on the right quantity for your age and body size.

Completely off the subject of diet and nutrition is your physical training combined with the amount of rest you get. A lot of people think that if you burn the candle at both ends by partying too much, getting no sleep and training too much that you will get a cold.

Well yes, sooner or later you pretty much will. However, this isn’t the only way you can catch a cold from overdoing it.

You may be the most determined, dedicated rider on the planet and train every day to your absolute maximum while avoiding the partying and you are still almost just as likely to catch a cold. Overdoing it is still overdoing it in anyone’s language and therefore you need to be smart.

Listen to your body when it’s telling you it needs a rest. If you are really going through a stressful period of pre season training where you are driving your body into the ground then perhaps you need to bump up your nightly sleep from 8 to 9 hours per night. Your body will tell you if it isn’t getting enough.

Good luck and stay healthy.