"I can't stop sneezing while watching Mad Men!?!"

This week I’ve noticed a few people sneezing or coughing during workouts at Toguri Training. While it’s been reported that many people sneeze when thinking about having sex or an orgasm, I suspect one or two of you also have a cold.

"I can't stop sneezing while watching Mad Men!?!"

Cold and Flus

Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between the start of a cold and a flu, but they are the result of two different viruses. In general, influenza is worse–even the name makes you feel like part of a history of pandemics, including the global Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 with estimates beginning at 20 million dead. The flu is serious. If your body aches and you’re dry coughing with a fever while feeling wiped out…you’ve probably got influenza. You need rest or these common symptoms might develop into bacterial infections within your lungs…or worse. Think dry cough turns to wet cough turns to blood in your mucous…

Colds tend to be much milder, and involve running noses and/or stuffed sinuses with the accompanying headache. You should feel anti-social, but you shouldn’t have to get out of bed by rolling over out of damp sheets until your clammy body slaps on the floor. That is, you should have energy.

When to Workout and When to Rest

Exercise can help a cold and runny nose. It is often said a workout can blast a cold out of your system. There is some truth to this as exercise promotes the release of white blood cells, which help fight disease, into your blood stream. If you are going to workout with mild cold symptoms, however, reduce the intensity. Recovery rides or shorter endurance workouts can be helpful “just to keep the blood moving”.

Do not workout when you have a fever, body aches or when you’re exhausted. When you have these symptoms, your body is screaming for rest. Also do not workout with a hacking cough or congested lungs. You probably have a fever if you have these symptoms, and training with a fever is not only counter-productive, it elevates stress on your heart. If you train with a fever you are really risking a major setback in your overall training schedule as it is quite common for athletes to go from a mild fever to severe exhaustion after a workout.

DO NOT COME TO THE GYM WITH A COLD OR INFLUENZA!! That would seem obvious, but it needs to be said. Cold and flu viruses are contagious!! If you insist on training, don’t do it at the gym out of courtesy for others.

"I'm starting to feel better! How about you?"

At TTS, coaches have the right to ask you to leave and make-up a class later if you’re sneezing and dripping all over the handlebars. Recognizing and reducing bad training habits, and bad training environments, is part of what we do. But what can you do to reduce the likelihood of getting a cold or flu?

Reduce the Risk of Getting a Cold or Flu

Yes, you can try to boost your immune system by taking 1000 mg of Vitamin C four times a day. You can take echinacea tincture if you feel it helps, though the literature is mixed. There are many “immune-boosting” remedies out there but THE WAY TO REDUCE THE RISK OF GETTING A COLD OR FLU IS TO WASH YOUR HANDS REGULARLY AND PROPERLY!!

When you train in a gym, you are touching surfaces touched by people with colds. Guaranteed.


Seasonal viruses love the membranes around your noses and eyes. I’d guess that each of you touches your face AT LEAST 10 times during a workout, often rubbing your noses or wiping around your eyes. Use the provided towel to wipe your face of sweat!! Also, we provide a hand sanitizer!! Use it on your hands, and even a bit on the handlebars before you ride!!

Do I have to mention that sharing water bottles is a bad idea??

"I forgot my water bottle but there was one that someone else left behind. Lucky me!!"

 Cold Buster Tea

I tend to avoid cold remedies, though I will take something for a headache if it persists. I stick with lots of fluids and sleep. My body also prefers fish or vegetarian dishes when it’s run down, and I’m a big fan of soup when sniffling. Most of you will have your own approach to colds but in general, they take a week or two to pass through your system. Here’s a recipe for a “Cold Buster Tea” that I love. I’m not extolling its medicinal virtues, but I like the taste and find it comforting. I’ve passed this recipe on to clients and in general got the “two thumbs up!”

There are a lot of different versions of this tea, but here’s what I make and to my surprise it showed up in a British cycling mag a few years back with notes about the medicinal qualities of each ingredient.

–Any herbal tea serves as a base: camomile or any “dream” tea at night. Some people use Green Tea because researchers at the University of Sherbrooke found it helped stop the replication of the adenovirus (a common cold virus), but green tea has caffeine so only use it during the day. Others use echinacea tea, and Tulsi tea is now all the rage…

Add the following. Measurements are for one large mug of comfort!

–the juice of 1/4  lemon

–tablespoon of grated fresh ginger

–honey to taste

–a dash of cayenne

Follow with a good night’s sleep with dreams of the big ring!


About Scott Toguri McFarlane

Scott Toguri McFarlane is a former Elite racer, and the founder of Toguri Training Services. For more than a decade, his approach to training has helped aspiring professional racers, provincial team members, and recreational cyclists of all ages and ability achieve their goals, including gold medals at National and Provincial Championships.

What our lovely readers have said about it:

  1. Rod Matheson says:

    “Have to get out of bed by rolling over out of damp sheets until your clammy body slaps on the floor”

    Hey, what were you doing in my bedroom the week before last? Unfortunately I came down with the flu and based on the people I’ve spoken to, this year’s ‘version’ seems to be particularly heinous.

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