As we deal with the many challenges of COVID-19 and its impact on health and our lives in general, I wanted to briefly discuss how this might affect your training and achieving your running goals. Many spring events have been cancelled or postponed. In my next post, I will discuss adjusting your training if you have had an event cancelled or postponed. However, in this post I will discuss overtraining and how it can play increase your risk for contracting viruses, such as COVID-19, and how you can build and boost your immune system to prevent viruses from taking hold in your body and derail you from achieving your goals.
Exercise, including running, can be beneficial for the immune system, however too much of a good thing can be detrimental. I know for myself, I can tell if I’ve overdone it with my training, and overtrained, because I will come down with a cold. Basically, when we overtrain we overstress our bodies and our immune system is not as effective, thus we are more susceptible to viruses. Therefore, it is important to plan your training and properly recover from your workouts to avoid overtraining. In addition, there may be other stressors in your life, besides your training, that can make your more susceptible to viruses. Thus, it is important to properly balance lifestyle (including sleep, nutrition, daily schedule), training, and environment (including family, job). For training, it is important to follow a plan that progressively and appropriately prepares you for your next event and incorporates proper recovery, so you can avoid the effects of overtraining.
Signs of Overtraining
Below are signs and symptoms of overtraining. There are certainly more, but these are the ones that are most detectable:
- Elevated resting heart rate
- Poor sleep
- Chronic fatigue
- Loss of appetite
- Persistent muscle soreness
- Increase in muscle and joint injury
- Rapid drop in body weight
- Reduction in maximal exercise capacity
- Increase in the number of colds
- Swelling of lymph glands
- Menstrual dysfunction
- Decreased bone mineral density
- Lower self-esteem and confidence
- Mood changes
- Lack of concentration
- Fear of competing
- Giving up when things gets tough
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, I would recommend taking at least 1-2 days off from running and then reevaluate to see if symptoms have improved. Moving forward with your training, you may need to cut back on your mileage and/or intensity. Also, you may need to reevaluate your training plan and consider if it is appropriately preparing you for your next event, or if you need a new training plan.
Tips to Build and Boost Your Immune System
In addition to avoiding overtraining, there are other important steps you can take to build and even boost your immune system to help you avoid viruses, like COVID-19, taking hold in your body.
Immune Building – Provide the Building Blocks for a Strong Immune System
- The recommended protein intake for runners is 0.55 grams per pound of body weight. For example, I weigh approximately 155 pounds, so I should consume about 85 grams of protein to support my training and immune system.
- Protein provides the building blocks necessary for antibody production, as well as the following benefits: decreasing occurrence of bacterial/parasitic infections and increasing immune response
- Vitamins play an important role as antioxidants and some are involved in production of various components of the immune system. Therefore, it is important to get an adequate daily intake. The most important vitamins for the immune system include: B vitamins and vitamins A, C, and E.
- I strongly recommend a multivitamin/multimineral complex from whole organic foods and not synthetics. Some examples would be Garden of Life and Intramax.
- Speaking of minerals, it is important to consume and absorb sufficient levels of zinc, iron, copper, iodine, and selenium which either serve as antioxidants or are involved in activity of various immune system components.
- Fatty Acids (omega-3s)
- Finally, omega-3 fatty acids provide beneficial anti-inflammatory properties and are involved in the production of antibodies.
- Good plant sources include: flax seeds, flaxseed oil, hemp seed, chia seeds, walnuts, and microalgae oil.
- Other good sources include wild-caught salmon and sardines.
- Supplements: Plant-based omega-3 supplements offer the same beneficial DHA and EPA fatty acids as marine sources do for optimal health. If you insist on fish oil, choose organic, sustainably-harvested sources.
Immune System Boosters
- In addition to immune system builders, you might consider adding one or two immune system boosters. My wife, Karen, has been making us daily cocktails with some of these immune boosters, particularly oil of oregano and astragalus.
- However, you should use caution and possibly avoid these if you have an auto-immune condition, such as Hashimoto’s, etc.
- Some foods that can boost the immune system include garlic, Reishi and chaga mushrooms, and probiotic foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, yogurt, and kombucha
- Supplements that can boost the immune system include: oil of oregano, astragalus, and Echinacea. However, you will want to make sure these come from a good and reliable source.
Please let me know if you have any questions, or if I can be of help in any way.
Avoid overtraining and stay healthy.
Your friend and coach,
Yuri Elkaim. Super Nutrition Academy. Everything You Need to Know About the Immune System.
Bob Seebohar. Exercise Physiology. USA Triathlon Level I Certification Clinic. June 7, 2013.
Ben Greenfield. Beyond Training. Victory Belt Publishing, Inc. Las Vegas, NV, 2014.
Dr. Edward Group. Supplements Revealed.
Dr. Edward Group https://globalhealing.com/natural-health/fish-oil-benefits/
Disclaimer: All the information presented in this blog is for educational and resource purposes only. It is there to help you make informed decisions about health-related fitness issues. It is not a substitute for any advice given to you by your physician. Always consult your physician or health care provider before taking supplements or using any other recommendation in this post. Use of the advice and information contained in this website is at sole choice and risk of the reader. In no way will Denver Running Coach or any persons associated with Denver Running Coach or Enlightened Performance LLC be held responsible for any injuries or problems that may occur due to the use of the advice contained within this post. Denver Running Coach and Enlightened Performance LLC will not be held responsible for the conduct of any companies recommended within this post.