Pre-marathon Chest infections

I'm having a bit of a problem with getting hit with a chest infection just before a marathon (happened 5 times now). I tend to follow the same training plan and have a 3 week taper, with the last week consisting of a couple of short runs and perhaps a swim. During that week, for the last 7 marathons I've trained for, I've ended up picking up a chest infection mid week and either running a poor time, or just accepting I'm not going to make it and pulling out. It's all a bit frustrating after spending 4 months training well, only to be prevented from achieving what I'm after by a cold going onto my chest. I do have a history of asthma. After any adice or suggestions, or even a recomendation of which heath care professional I could ask, as I'm completely stumped would be much appreciated. GP was sypathetic, but not a massive amount of help.


  • stutyrstutyr ✭✭✭

    I understand where your coming from as I have a half-mara on Sunday, but have been struggling with a chect infection for just over a week.  I'm hoping it will clear before the weekend.

    I'm assuming the chect infections have been colds rather than anything more serious, so are caused by viruses.  Two catalysts for a viral infection that I'm aware of are (a) lower immunity and (b) exposure to new viruses.

    For (a) this could be due to fatigue from the marathon training catching up, and coughs & colds are a symptom of over-training.  So you may want to look at your training schedule and see if its pushed you too far in the preceeding weeks.

    For (b) you need to look at your movements etc over the previous few weeks, including your family. Do you travel around to new areas, or do you have school-age children?  For example this is the second cold I've picked up since my kids went back to school, and I've assumed they've been the carrier as they are mixing with new people etc. 

  • Wash your hands better / more often. Taking Zinc might help.

    Also, colds are more common in winter. So go for an autumn marathon rather than a spring one.

  • You could try supplementing with a daily dose of glutamine, which boosts immune system and helps with recovery. Most commonly available as a powder to dissolve in warm water or juice. When I get myself into a routine of taking it every day, I definitely get fewer colds and sniffles. Unlike most other supposed 'wonder supplements' it's cheap - you can pick up a kilo for about £25 on eBay, and with a daily dose being just a teaspoonful, it lasts for months. Worth a try I'd say...


  • If you always swim n get an infection don't swimimage or don't run change the pattern. Heck maybe run more?
  • I know this sounds a bit off the wall but drinking a can of Coke after a significant run (or a tickly throat) works well for me! Don't know why but I assume its the sugar killing off the bugs? Are you sure they are chest infections? I tend to suffer bronchitis which is a bit like a chest infection (cough up colourful muck) but without the high body temperature. These tend to occur on a build up to a big (for me) race; but as above the Coke seems to help!

  • Some excellent suggestions there, and confirmation of some of the things I was thinking. I take Echinacia (with a break after marathons), vitamin C, sometimes Zinc and was considering other supplements, some of which have been mentioned.

    I'm considering doing more during my final taper week, not high intensity or mileae, but not as little as I have been - I'd discussed the stress hormone thing last night with my Chiropractor and she said it's a bit like going on holiday and getting ill. Your stress levels have been greatly reduced so your body decides it's time to relax and repair itself and in turn is a bit suceptable to bugs.

    Final thing which I didn't mention originally is that I don't eat meat (I do eat fish, but not every day). My chiropractor also felt my protein intake isn't high enough particualry during the high mileage phase, and that is kicking in later on in the process, just before the race.

    Thanks for all the input, much appreciated.

  • Being a veggie shouldn't make a difference - might even be healthier not eating red meat - as long as you make sure you're getting enough protein from other sources. Tons of it in tuna, sardines etc. also in beans and pulses. For menu options you might like to read Scott Jurek's book - he's a world class ultra runner and also a vegan and his book's full of his own recipes.
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