How do I avoid catch­ing a cold while run­ning?

Pa­tri­cia Storey, Bath

Trail Running (UK) - - Training -

As win­ter ap­proaches, your chances of catch­ing a cold rise. Al­though a cold is a rel­a­tively mi­nor ill­ness, it can in­ter­fere with your train­ing and even­tu­ally lead to big­ger prob­lems.

Anna Whit­taker, pro­fes­sor of be­hav­ioral medicine at the Univer­sity of Birm­ing­ham, says: “A cold is caused by a virus that en­ters and repli­cates within the up­per res­pi­ra­tory tract, re­sult­ing in the symp­toms we all know – runny nose, cough­ing, sneez­ing, itchy throat, bunged up nose and si­nuses.

“It’s dif­fi­cult to com­pletely avoid catch­ing one as they’re spread through air­borne droplets. How­ever, if you do be­come in­fected through con­tact with an­other per­son who has a cold, this doesn’t mean the in­fec­tion will turn into what we call the clin­i­cal dis­ease. You can be­come in­fected, but your body could fight it off so you don’t get ill. This is more typ­i­cal in in­di­vid­u­als who are health­ier to be­gin with so have a stronger im­mune sys­tem. In other words, those who have a healthy diet, are phys­i­cally ac­tive, not too stressed, get enough sleep, and don’t smoke, take drugs or drink too much al­co­hol.

“How­ever, if you’re per­form­ing ex­tremely vig­or­ous or en­durance ex­er­cise such as a marathon, the phys­i­cal stress this takes on the body ac­tu­ally opens up your body to a greater risk of con­tract­ing an in­fec­tion such as a cold. If this is the train­ing you en­gage in, then you need to be ex­tra care­ful dur­ing these pe­ri­ods to try to min­imise in­fec­tion through get­ting ad­e­quate sleep and healthy nu­tri­tion, and re­duc­ing stress lev­els as much as you can.”

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