Coaches Panel: Advice on training while sick

A reader asks whether he should continue his training when he is a bit under the weather.

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Training while sick

Hi Coaches,
Do you have any advice or guidelines for continuing to train while sick? I’ve heard that it’s ok to continue to train if you have a head cold, but as soon as it descends into your chest you should cease training. Is this an arbitrary distinction? What is considered “too sick” to train?

— Jason

Yes, the general rule of thumb is that if you have symptoms below the neck you should not exercise. This is because symptoms below the neck can be associated with viral infections such as influenza and there is risk of Viral Myocarditis, a condition in which a virus invades the heart muscle, possibly causing significant damage.

If you have mild symptoms above the neck, such as a head cold or mild sore throat and you feel like training, it is probably okay to do an easy ride providing your doctor agrees. But do keep in mind occasional missed workouts will not adversely affect your fitness and the added rest may be beneficial in getting you healthy and back on the road.

Best wishes,
— Eddie

Eddie Monnier is a USA Cycling licensed Elite Coach (Level 1, the highest certification achievable), a USA Cycling Certified Power Coach, a bike fitter, a category 2 road and track cyclist, and oversees the NOW-MS Society Elite U25 Development Team. Although he lives in Santa Monica, California, he coaches athletes from all over through his Velo-Fit, LLC coaching business. You may reach Eddie at

Editor’s note: Any information or advice offered by the members of the Coaches’ Panel should not in any way be viewed as personal medical advice. The recommendations made in this column are offered as general information for healthy, physically fit amateur and professional athletes. None of the information provided by members of the Coaches’ Panel should be viewed as a replacement for personalized, professional medical treatment or to replace the advice or services of your physician. While some members of the Coaches’ Panel are Licensed Medical Doctors, Licensed healthcare professionals, and certified coaches, their advice in no way establishes a doctor-patient relationship between the writer and readers of this column. If you are beginning or resuming a vigorous exercise program, it is important to visit your health care provider for a complete physical examination in order to identify and treat any potential risks you might face.

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