A lament for my (formerly) ironclad immune system … and impact to training. Anyone else?

Probably a meandering post … but looking for any shared experiences and insights.

Prior to the pandemic (pre March 2020) I was a verifiable “road warrior” in the corporate sense. I traveled 3-4 days a week, was in airports, taxis, Ubers, hotels, restaurants, offices, etc., in addition to having a daughter in elementary school … point being, I was exposed as much (or more) human contact and associated contagions in crowded, unsanitary places than almost anyone I know. I washed my hands regularly, but was nothing approaching a germaphobe, During this time … and I am not being hyperbolic … I NEVER got sick. During a period spanning ten years from (2010 - 2020) I remember only two occasions I was unable to work — both were during the year my daughter first went to school … the culprits were 1) norovirus, and 2) strep throat.

During this time, I never got the flu — despite only receiving the yearly flu vaccine in 4 out of the ten years (mostly due to me being too lazy to get it if it wasn’t incredibly convenient). When my wife and daughter got the flu, I floated through life as if in a bubble. When they got really bad colds and/or sinus infections … I would perhaps, occasionally get a little congested for 24-36 hours, but nothing which in anyway curtailed my energy — and I always recovered quickly.

However, much like most everyone else in the world, for 2-3 years my business travel essentially ended, I wore a mask in public places, airplanes etc., and I assume there was a degradation of my immune system’s “ready state”. Meaning, my non-scientific, layman’s brain thinks of my previous life as one in which my immune system was so continuously assaulted by various pathogens that it’s defenses were so primed and ready that I never fell ill.

Fast forward to mid-2022 … my daughter gets (officially diagnosed) Covid in April. Despite not distancing from her, I don’t get it. My wife gets (unofficial) Covid in July (never tested positive) but the symptoms (mainly the cough) was so severe and so lingering (6-8weeks) after returning from a convention where dozen of others tested positive that we believe she had it. And still I never contracted Covid, or if I did I was 100% asymptomatic.

In the fall of this year, I went to get my annual flu shot … however despite doing that, I contract Type-A influenza in early December. It never got terribly severe, but it lingered for more than 10 days, keeping me off the bike the entire time. I briefly started training again, but after 2 days came down with a diagnosed sinus infection which required a full course of antibiotics and shelved me for another 7-9 days.

After resuming normal training Jan 1st with a severely deprecated FTP, I completed a 4 week block and a rest week last week and was ready to hit it hard again this week … however, my daughter contracted a cold a school last week … and as has been my recent custom, it has knocked me out of the box for the last 3-4 days.

In short, it has been 10+ years maybe 15+ since I have had this many maladies during the winter, and this frustrating me to no end.

My questions are.:

  1. Is anyone else having a similar experience … specifically if you have traditionally, rarely been ill?, and
  2. Are there any N=1 anecdotes, homeopathic or otherwise, of what you all are doing to bolster your immune systems, etc., to allow you to better fight these things off?

DISCLAIMER: I’m not seeking any sort of medical advice, nor am I trying to instigate a debate over vaccines and their efficacy. Just looking for similar experiences (in a misery loves company sort of way) and any tips/tricks on how to keep your systems battle hardened :muscle:

If any of this devolves into a medical/political debate, I’m happy to remove the thread.

I’m just a frustrated cyclist with some lofty goals who keeps getting health setbacks and am exceedingly frustrated by it.

Good luck, all🤘


You’ve likely seen these related topics, but just in case:

Do you understand the basics of flu vaccines? This is my lay understanding - “they” (drug mfgs) pick a couple of strains they think are going to be making the rounds, and mix up a cocktail. You take a shot and develop some level of immunity to those strains. If a different strain comes around, you really don’t have much protection against it. So its kinda hit or miss.

Thats what I believe to be true after 40 years of being an adult and reading and talking to my doctors. Happy to be corrected.

This will not be popular with some, but I’m old school on this topic. Don’t hide from the world and you’ll keep your immune system stronger. I’ve seen some interesting stats on what happened with RSV illnesses after lockdowns.

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Similar experience here! I used to get ill once a year (flu), and that was it. Travelled a lot for work too.

Last year was pretty bad though, with regularly losing a week of training every month or two due to illness. It became gradually worse over summer. We fell into a very predictoble pattern where the kids (two preschoolers) would go to their kindergartens, get infected by something, have to stay at home for a week or so (often infecting us in the process), healed, went back to kindergarten and didn‘t even survive a week there.

My GF stayed home to care for them every time, and ended up working something like 20 days total in 6 months.

Then November/December came, and things got truly atrocious. There was not a single day without at least one of us ill (as in 39 + fever), and I felt horrendous pretty much all of December.

Luckily the seasonal holidays (10 days with relatively little contacts) seem to have acted like a circuit breaker and given everyone‘s immune system a respite. I guess the relentless onslaught in kindergartens was too much for the kids’s system to bear when their are not fully healed…

We have all ben pretty healthy for a month now (aside for the usual ear infections etc). I am celebrating my first solid block of training in ages and praying to any deity that‘d hear me for it to last!

I only have one piece of advice to share: hang in there, and take heart. This too shall pass!

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Yup, same here. I’ve had more minor colds/coughs in the last 6 months than my whole adult lifetime (maybe slight hyperbole, but not much). I suspect lockdowns have negatively affected many people’s immune systems (that’s not an anti-lockdown comment, just what I believe to be a statement of fact).

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Same. I get sick once a year normally.

I’ve been sick 3 times in the past month.

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After getting COVID I’ve been feeling very fatigued after training blocks. I’ve been also getting sick very easily when maintaining a TSS I could happily handle prior to COVID. My solution that I’m currently trying and has been working so far, was getting a Garmin Forerunner 255 that tracks my HRV. Whenever I’m not in the green zone, I don’t push it and I lower the intensity of my scheduled workouts. That way I don’t over strain my systems when they are not primed and I can be more consistent with my training.

You’re mostly right on how flu vaccines work except that it’s not manufacturers that choose the strains to target, it’s a committee from within the FDA. They choose what to go after based on info from the CDC and WHO and then finally the manufacturers build to go after those strains. Usually, it works out but some years the vaccines aren’t a good match overall.

I do want to follow up about your comment about making sure you are exposed to things to keep your immune system healthy. That may be true in some instances but it is most certainly not true for COVID. There is ample evidence to indicate that COVID can produce a long-lasting hit to the immune system and each subsequent infection reduces the effectiveness of the immune system further. See Anthony Leonardi, Eric Topel, Eric Fengel-Deng, or Andrew Ewing for summaries of the literature.

It could be that the OP is seeing some effect from an asymptomatic case which has depressed his immune system. Pure speculation on my part but not unreasonable considering the amount of evidence available showing that people’s immune systems become depressed after a COVID infection.

There’s no magic bullet to recovery – rest, eat healthy, reduce sugar, reduce physical load, reduce alcohol, etc. Mask in public to reduce the load on the immune system for now. You’ll get through it but it might take longer than you think.


When you were out and about a lot you will have been getting exposed to lots of things in small doses. Enough to cause an immune response, not enough to get sick. You’ve missed those frequent micro doses of immune interaction. It’ll get back to normal soon enough with enough frequent exposure again.

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Touchwood after getting my Iron levels sorted out in April 2019 I’m back to a good immune system and even when I was immunocompromised with chemo during most of 2019 I was still fairly healthy.

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I am immunocompromised and think the same thing. Yes I masked in the early parts of covid but for some time I have been just doing what I would always do with one exception. I try to stay away from large indoor events and kids. Kids are just walking germ factories…Glad mine are adults now.

I dont want to say when I was last sick as I am sure there is a curse related to making that statement.

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Can you define “things” and the specific immune responses that prevent the range of sicknesses?

Yeah, this is kinda the operating thesis of my question (and lament of self pity :sob:)

I guess I’m just looking for a hack, or some sort of protocol that will sharpen the immune system back up … but as I write that, I better be a little bit careful of what I ask for. I might end up in some bro science vortex and end up setting myself back further :joy:

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I don’t wear a mask and try to go about my business as I did pre-covid. I believe it’s better to keep the immune system exposed continuously to keep it primed and strong.


Don’t have kids in school and work from home.

I’ve had the flu and stomach bug since January 1. My FTP is ??? and my heart rate can’t recover back to normal levels because I keep getting sick. I’ve lost 6-7 pounds since January 1 as well and it was not purposeful.

Only ppl I know who avoid getting sick don’t have kids and don’t have to go into an office. I work in healthcare and even though we mask my coworkers bring crap in. That’s how I got the flu. I did have the flu vaxx and wasn’t that sick but it also morphed into sinusitis andni needed antiobiotics. I’d say the day I finally felt recovered I got norovirus. So now I’m 5 days out of that feeling super depleted. I can ride east but any interval just crushes me so I it’s not even worth it.

I have two kids in elementary school so they are just insanely virulent vectors.

So I am right there with you in this pity party.

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Ugh. Sorry to hear this.

The notion that covid infections can lead to incurable immunodeficiency is one of the more frightening things that seems to be gaining traction. I am nowhere near expert enough in the field of immunology to figure out how legit the research is. But I am seeing this more and more from more mainstream outlets and not just a few fringe voices as was the case even a few months ago.

Personally I never bought in to the immunity degradation from non exposure hypotheses. My anecdote of one is that at least so far I am not getting sick more than in the past. But my wife is, and she had a more severe case of Covid than me.

Sadly, this is exactly how I got the flu. My daughter’s Irish Dance competition over Thanksgiving. Ugh … let me set the scene for you: the Indianapolis Convention Center, 1000s of kids and their families in close proximity for 8 hours a day for 3 days.

Yuck. :sneezing_face:


Definitely going through it at the moment but putting it down to our 1 year old who is constantly bringing germs into the house + a little bit of lack of sleep.

Used to train 8-10 hours every week pre baby and probably get ill once a year, if that.
Now I’m getting ill at least once a month, so bloody frustrating.

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I know multiple people, myself included (and I’ve never had COVID), who are experiencing extended fatigue, depressed hrv, etc. I know a lot of the talk here has been about young kids bringing bugs home, but I have to wonder if there isn’t something else going around that we haven’t heard about yet. I thought it was overtraining, but I went pretty much all of December off the bike and am still feeling it.