Saturday, 15 December 2012

Attack of the Taper Flu

Norovirus is rife at the moment and winter colds are floating about infecting the general public as everybody huddles inside away from the sub-zero temperatures. Air conditioning systems blasting out hot air are sharing the germs generously around and wine flu is also particularly virulent as the Christmas Party season is in full swing.

There is however, something much worse lurking in the background. A sneaky, unpleasant disease that lays dormant until your taper for your next big event begins. Taper Flu is tricky to diagnose as it can take so many different forms; it can get into your respiratory system and mimic a chest or throat infection; it can affect your brain so you start doubting your ability to complete your upcoming challenge and it can even get into your muscles, playing havoc with old injuries or throwing up new ones. This list is not exhaustive. In bad cases it can take over your whole body and you can be affected by all of the ailments above.

There does appear to be a direct correlation between how long you've trained for, the emotional investment you have put in and the severity of Taper Flu. It has been known to prevent completion or participation of events altogether.

It's no coincidence that this rotten syndrome ordinarily rears it's ugly head at the start of the taper, a time which usually marks the end of the heaviest training period when the body is tired and lacking a good immune response. Some, less educated individuals blame "overtraining" for putting the body into such a vunerable state but Taper Flu can affect even those with the most conservative of training plans.

There is very little you can do to prevent the onset except for eating a meticulously clean diet, having plenty of good quality sleep and keeping the muscles in tip-top condition with a highly disciplined stretching and massaging routine. Before anybody pipes up, I know this is what you should be doing anyway. 

So, it's kicked in. You're in bed all snotty and coughing up lung custard, wondering if you'll make it to the start line and entertaining yourself by YouTubing videos of how to apply kinesio tape to prevent the runners knee and plantar faciitis niggles you picked up in your last big week of training. What can you do? Well, it's more of the same: rest, nutrient-filled foods, taking care of the muscles (which includes no weightlifting, apparently), positive thoughts and getting everybody you know to send you healthy vibes!

What you must not do is try to train through it or fight it. Know you've done the hard bit, you've trained, you're ready and you have a week for Taper Flu to give up. What Taper Flu doesn't know is that the extra rest will probably give you an added boost on race day. Just keep telling yourself that. It'll be fine.

Healthy vibes people, please!

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