Training and Recovering from Illness
Our own Chris Hall has had it pretty tough over the winter battling a series of illnesses. He's now starting to get back to full fitness. Read below to see how he has trained and recovered.
The festive period is often a time where we relax, socialise and spend time with families. Unfortunately, this wasn't quite the case for me. Having spent a big year on the bike (see below stats from veloviewer.com).
As you can see, it was a big year. Lots of crazy challenges and experiences. Sadly towards the end of the year I started to feel unwell. The amount I was getting out on the bike started to drop off as well. After a visit to the doctors we found out I had a mild case of blood poisoning and, more worryingly, a bad case of shingles.
Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is an infection of a nerve and the skin around it. It's caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which also causes chickenpox.
It's estimated around one in every four people will have at least one episode of shingles during their life. The main symptom of shingles is pain, followed by a rash that develops into itchy blisters, similar in appearance to chickenpox.
An episode of shingles typically lasts around two to four weeks. It usually affects a specific area on just one side of the body.
The chest and tummy (abdomen) are the most common areas.
It is an incredibly frustrating and painful virus that causes you to basically be bed bound. The thing I found most difficult was the fatigue. The pain was bad, but continually needing to sleep shows how tough shingles is on your body. I have spoken with the likes of Dean Downing who has suffered from it before. Dean's advice was:
'Don’t mess around with shingles. If you don’t rest and if you come back too soon. It will ruin you for a long long time.'
Dean had it when he lived in Belgium. In winter at the end of January in 2002. In his own words, it was caused by too much training, too much stress and too much partying. He saw a doctor, had 3 months off and on May 1st started riding and training from scratch. Later that year, he won the British Crit Champs in September.
I have been very lucky to have the support of my coach, Ken and nutritionist, Will Girling to help try to aid recovery as quickly as possible. Will is the nutritionist for Pro cycling team, ONE PRO and Trek Drops. It's amazing having support from people like Dean, a true British Cycling great, keeping an eye on me. The recovery was slow, but I got there eventually.
During shingles, I found that the key was to be very strict about the training I was doing. No junk miles, no extra rides. Just getting the specific training sessions done when Ken had put them into Training Peaks for me. To start with, these sessions were every other day, Z1 and Z2 work just to get the legs spinning again. We then started to work on getting some more higher zone work in the legs, but made sure there was plenty of rest after these sessions.
Rest was key: sleeping as much as possible, not getting up early to lap in Regent’s Park, allowing the body time to recover. I was told by the Doctor that it can take up to 4 months to be fully recovered from shingles. So that was it, it was simple in my mind. Be strict, constructive and positive in these times so that I would be able to come back as strong as possible.
The positive news is I came back stronger when I got riding again. My FTP increased by being so regimented and my weight had also been dropping. The increase in the FTP I believe was due to both being strict with my cycling and also losing weight. Will has known it’s been a goal of mine to lose about 12kg, so managing to do this whilst recovering was a cheeky bonus.
Now I’m starting to feel much better; pretty much back to full health. I gave myself until May to be so strict, only now having a bit more fun on the bike and getting back to some of the challenges I have wanted to do.
Onwards and upwards for the rest of 2018.
Images by Sean Hardy