I had a phone conversation with a friend about being sick and missing training. He was complaining about not feeling well and missing a week of training. He sounded stuffy and miserable on the phone. So what did I do? I made fun of him and offered him some advice. I said that if you are sick “below” the neck, take time off; if you are sick “above” the neck, you can train. I forgot to mention what to do if you are sick “in” the head.
I think I read the "above the neck/below the neck" rule on cyclingnews.com in their oddly detailed Fitness Q & A. It is oddly detailed because they don't just answer general questions, they sometimes will give very specific advice in a series of e-mail that ultimately results in the reader buying a new pair of cycling shoes, moving his saddle 4 millimeters up and 3.2 millimeters back (this sound logical to Rider 1), saving his banana for after the ride and taking Psych 101 as an easy prerequisite. I just don't get that, but then again, I took Deviant Psychology instead. Anyway, I digress.
I was also recently sick. I have the landfill worth of Kleenex to prove it. BTW, Team Two Wheel is not endorsed by a particular brand of facial tissue. I just thought it was easier to use that brand name than drawing attention to the clumsiness of that sentence with the words "facial tissue" in the place of "Kleenex". Anyway, I digress.
The problem with my recent sickness is that I was really sick. Sometime I get a runny nose or sound bad, but I don't actually feel too bad. I can still ride my bike, but I have a built-in excuse. When I ride up to the group and it sounds as if I have my nose squeezed tight but my hands are no where near my face, it comes across as a nasally way of saying, "I'm here because I am such a hard man, but clearly it is like riding with one lung and therefore you can reasonably expect me to be at the back of the pack and if I am front of you it is just more proof of what a hard man I really am." Last week, though, I really was sick so that I not only had that nasal sound, but my chest felt tight and I was prone to intermittent coughing fits that forced me to the side of the road. It hasn't made riding any easier, but then again, we don't do this because it's fun, right? Wait. What? Anyway, I digress.
The point to this is that the early season can be a sloppy, cold, miserable time of year to ride, or it can be decent outside and just sloppy, cold and miserable in your head. The important thing is knowing when it is better to just get on with the riding and when it is better to rest and recover so that you don't make yourself sicker and miss more training as a result.
So remember this simple rule: If you are sick above the neck, go ahead and train. If you are sick below the neck, recover and wait on your training. If you are sick only in the neck, get advice from Dr. Spalm. In the meantime, move your saddle 4 millimeters in some direction and save your banana for after the ride.