Winter bugs - dealing with a cold/chest infection (when and how to start training)

Fellow TrainerRoadies,

I’m looking for a bit of reassurance/advice

I am new to cycling so have been smashing my base this year and was trying to get a build phase in before returning to base over the offseason; however I have just been hit by my first heavy cold of the winter (live in the UK) and it has now gone down onto my chest and I have a couple of questions.

I have completed the first three-week block of General Build and was feeling good progress, my recovery week lined up with a week of meetings and I couldn’t ride so instead I took my trainers and did a couple of runs, 1hr 20min plod on Monday and a slowish 5k on Weds. The first question is about the suitability of subbing my recovery rides for runs to fit it in, my mindset was some exercise in the right zone is better than nothing but am I still hitting the aims for the week? I was then going to do a couple of the lower-intensity rides over the weekend but that is when the cold started to hit me.

The thing I am now worried about is when to get back on the bike and where to start? It is now Tuesday of the second week without intensity but with the ‘chest infection’ side of things I obviously don’t want to make things worse, but I feel like every day that I am not training my hard worked for fitness will be evaporating!

When I do get back to it how do people normally start back up, should I do something lower intensity for my legs on the first day and then just pick the plan up, do you slot in a different week to get back up to speed or just RAMP test and follow a plan (this is the option that scares me with the prospect of a maximal test as my first ride back!)?

Thanks in advance, I am hoping that this doesn’t become a regular occurrence but with a 4-year-old plague carrier it might be the kind of thing I have to deal with throughout winter!

One simple bit first off. Training with a chest infection can mess you up big time. It sucks to have time off but you have to make a choice, have another week off or train and potentially have to have 3 months off. Speaking from experience.


I have and have had this nasty chest cold for about 10 days now. Take the advice and do not workout. Rest and fully recover from the chest infection. My chest congestion is slowly going away, it’s actually developed into bronchitis. I would rather loose a bit of fitness than develop pneumonia and end up having a serious infection. I keep hearing/reading this, “Above the neck cold, okay to workout. Below the neck cold, don’t workout.” Lots of the people on here have years of experience with training. I’d follow the advice of these people. Rest and lots of fluids. My Dr said it takes about two-three weeks for an average cold to go away. Gell well soon.

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Thanks for the replies, you sound like the voice of reason in my head, I just need to listen to it now! Being an energetic person I struggle to stay still so my logic this morning was to be productive and spend the an hour in my gym doing some stretches and weights instead; this way I am doing some meaningful exercise but not putting the burden onto my lungs. Does this sound sensible as a way ahead?

I’m in the same situation at the moment. Had a ramp test 9 days ago and felt that something wasn’t quite right. Came down with a bad cold the next day, and haven’t touched the bike since.

Sure, I feel annoyed/angry/frustrated/guilty about not training, but I’m not going to worry at all about my fitness level. I know that I’ll regain what I’ve lost, then push on again from there. These things happen.

I’m hoping to get some 30-45 minute low intensity rides (50% FTP) in this week, then gradually start building up again properly next week, but only if I feel up to it.

Fortunately it’s still so early in the winter that there is plenty of time to re-adjust plans from scratch if needed.

Being sick has brought a renewed appreciation for what the body can do when it’s healthy!

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It’s all stress on an already stressed system. Just rest. See it as a de load couple of weeks. We all hate to do it but rest is just a part of training which is as important as the work part.

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I recently had a cold for 2 weeks (2 consecutive colds?) and another week after that of fatigue (from the sickness probably). Ftp dropped like 20-30 W. But, I’m sure that if I had trained despite being ill, I would be dead by now (0 W ftp) or it would continue to drop because of complications.

So, rest! When you feel motivated again and your resting heart rate is normal, start easy and ramp up over a couple of weeks.

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I think it takes around three weeks for me to recover from a common cold, and around another 2-3 weeks to get back where I was before I got sick. I’m down with a cold now which doesnt bother me in my daily life but when on the bike I immediatly see and feel my body is not doing well. Started with shorter rides 2 days ago and today I woke up with a sore throat again, went to the health care center and I hade cold blister in my throat. Doctor told me to wait another two days after my first symptom free day to get on the bike. I’m gonna follow his order and when I get on the bike start with three days of strictly zone 1 HR riding only. I think this time of year is not to bad to get sick. I was a couple of weeks into base training when I got sick but I dont feel so stressed, I’m taking these weeks as my off-season and will restart and reschedule and still have enough time to squeeze in all I need before the season starts in February =)

My de-load ended up being about 13 days before I actually felt good. I ended up taking an extra 3 days off due to travel and a weekend filled with lots of fine food and wine, my nephews got married.

Going to restart some easy training this week all in Zone 1 for 5 days and then see if perhaps I start up a whole new TB Phase and work on developing a bigger base and work on getting down to 150lbs (68kg) for the coming year, currently at 170lbs (77kg). This year is flying by and I don’t want to try and shed the fat in SSB or SPB. Will implement some of the info from Matt Fitzgerald Racing Weight Quick Start Guide. I don’t like the amount of training in the guide, so will experiment with using Traditional Base and see who things go with both Fitzgerald’s meal plan and TR TB phase.