Triathlon/immune system

Seems to be well know that the more highly trained you are, the harder you get hit by illness. I was speaking to someone the other day who had done a couple of ironmans (qualified for and did Kona, so no slouch!) and found his immune system was really in trouble and took ages to get back to being able fight things off - anyone have experience of this and what if anything you can do to prevent it?


  • I guess its because you constantly put the body in a weakened state, and it can't fight things off as it's just too busy repairing itself.

    Plus a heavy training schedule and you might feel tempted to try and train through things that you'd be better off resting up with.

    Rest days are v important, and it's easy to knock yourself back if training whilst ill. The benefit that you can gain from that single session is minimal compared to the risk.
  • marathons.. & the 24hr thing really take it out of me...

    i've often ended up with a cold shortly after a marathon.

    i try to counter it now with plenty of vitC before and after... and during particularly tough training weeks
  • Ed - are you watching that Hercules thing on Beeb 3?

    I would have thought it was up your street with 24hr racving and stuff.
  • yeh.. not sure about the hanging thing.... but the giant hamster wheel looked ace :)
  • On first sight I didn't think it looked that hard, but it's no picnic pushing it round is it ?

    They'll all be in oxygen tents by day 4 !
  • What's the wear on an ordinary domestic car?
    Compare it to an F1 machine.

    there's also the comparative effect. People who are at the peak of their health and fitness are going to feel knocked sideways by a bug that would just leave a couch potato - who doesn't know what peak health is - feeling a bit more under the weather than usual.
  • DazDaz ✭✭✭
    i suffer hell of a lot through colds, flus etc. Had tonsillitis for first 1-2 years when I gave up squash and footy for running, etc. Some people just have weeker immune systems than others and when you reach a certain level of hard training you'll suppress it even further.

    I've tried echinacea and othe rherbal 'remedies', vit-c and protein overload (an atkins effort for a week does help!), plenty of water.

    But just have to be sensible - keep warm, change as quickly as poss out of damp clothes when it's cold. Keep your hands clean (I bite my nails a bit......ever read THAT article about whats lurks on underground train seats!?), etc

    Endurance Coach @
    Elite Ironman, Ultra Trail Runner
  • acksherly i think there's a peak somewhere...

    at a certain training level my immune system seems invincible... there have been alot of bugs i should have picked up from or via my wife from her school.. but rarely do.. and her nurse/doctor has been amazed that i haven't.

    if i was in couch potato mode i think i would have been much more likely to succumb.

    however, as i said above when a marathon or similar pushes me toward total exhaustion i frequently pick something up at the drop of a hat (mixed metaphores?)

    so really jj i'd prefer a clapped out banger... brand new car.. and f1 machine analogy ;)
  • heavy training, and particularly stacked sessions, releases large quantities of the 'fight or flight' hormone, cortisol

    one of the nasty effects of this is that it suppresses the immune system

    lots and frequent doses of vitamin c helps (it washes through the body quickly, so a tablet every morning doesn't help much) (also, other citrus chemicals such as bioflavonoids aid its absorption, so a tablet every morning helps even less)

    eat an orange every few hours or something

    leaving more than 6 hours between training sessions allows cortisol levels to susbside, and a quick sleep helps even more (so morning and night, rather than morning and lunchtime)

    glutamine imbalance has been linked to suppressed immune system too... there's some evidence to suggest that glutamine supplementation can to some extent counterract cortisol build up when training hard or racing
  • yeah see... what the man said
  • anyway i'm not sure how ed managed to get a cold after his 24 hour run... he only went about 6 or 7 miles to my recollection
  • sigh

    speaking as a clapped out old banger, I'll leave the sensible stuff to other people. Not quite up to it today, I guess.
  • My boss objects when i try to have a quick sleep
  • errr... i didnt get a cold after the 24hr
  • DazDaz ✭✭✭
    Endurance Coach @
    Elite Ironman, Ultra Trail Runner
  • ah, makes sense then
  • how do you know your boss objects if you are asleep, Will?

    He doesn't wake you up to tell you does he?

    How inconsiderate
  • Sleep deffo works for me - run/sleep/swim particularly. And an afternoon nap is so civilised...
  • Napping - the 4th discipline.

    Anyone ever nod off on the bike at all ?
  • This is an interesting thread, ive been stricken by one bug after another for the last 4 weeks and its perhapsd not a coincidence that this occured when I stepped my training intensity up.

    Other than the VitC comments are there any other suppliments e.g. vitimin pills etc that I should take (Im training for FLM and Ironman in July).

    When ive trained for Marathons b4 ive just took the one a day Sanatogen Gold multi-vitimins.

    Advise would be really appreciated.
  • recovery periods and sleep are the best things

    and as noted, you could try l-glutamine - i think it worked for me - i read about this during an extended period on the verge of overtraining (my rest pulse was up 10+ for a month), bought a tub of this from Holland & Barrett and I was back to normal after two days

    use 20-30g a day, after training and with meals
  • Have just done 2 years of using echinea(?). One pill for first 10 days of each month. Had colds when everybody else had them but not bad & could still train. Stopped taking in August and had a a series of bugs over the Autumn including one losing 2 weeks of training & forcing me out of inter-counties X-country champs -my first representative vest - gutted. Have now restarted echinea.
  • Solgar mega VM75 Vits, garlic capsules, wash hands after being on public civic buildings etc, good rest, good food and correct clothing.
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