Friday, November 25, 2005
Well, I was planning to write about trivial stuff today - until I saw that Roberto Heras' B-sample came back positive. http://www.cyclingnews.com/news.php?id=news/2005/nov05/nov25news2 This is very bad for an already struggling sport. We have suffered yet another blow, both in the mind of the public and internally in the sport. I'm sure Heras' lawyers will argue "testing error" and dig up a doctor that can attest to Heras' "vanishing twin" etc. We did not need this, nor do we need the upcoming fall-out from this B-sample. As if it is not enough that one of the top riders on the Pro Tour was just caught "red-handed", now he will drag the entire testing system through the mud. His support staff / lawyers will surely try to discredit a testing system that actually is very accurate. Like it or not, if both your samples came back positive - chances are VERY good that you cheated. I hope 2006 will be a better year... From one thing to another - I was originally planning to write about one of my biggest "fears" / area of concentration. In essance, the constant struggle against catching a cold / flu. Avoiding illness is very important and sometimes difficult when you train 850-1100 hours per year. Getting sick can easily hamper forward progress for 5-14 days and destroy some of the already established base. Long, hard rides makes the body more volunerable to catching illness. The immune-system is weaker after these rides. Combine this with colder temperatures and wet conditions and you might have the recipe for "the sniffles". So what do I do? Well, I take some precautions. Prevention is the key, in my mind. I make sure I get out of wet, cold training gear as soon as possible. I always try to stay warm, regardless of location. I take a high dosage of Vitamin C (1000 IU) and Vitamin E (500 IU) every day, along with a regluar vitamin supplement. I eat lots, and I mean lots, of vegetables and fruit. If I feel that I have a sore throat, maybe after a hard ride, I make sure to take zinc lozenges. Zinc is proven to be very effective in stopping a cold dead in it's track. But, to be effective the lozenges has to be taken at the first sign of trouble. And if neccessary, repeated every 3 hours. Make sure you purchase the ones without any sugar added. They don't taste as well, but work a lot better. Sugar reduces some of the effectiveness. But all this is not enough - when I'm out in public I turn into an anal creature. My wife thinks I'm crazy (which could very well be true, but what does that say about her, then?). I try to keep my "distance" from people that obviously have a cold/flu. I always, always wash my hands before eating etc. I carry anti-bacterial wipes / lotion so that I can clean my hands before eating. I cringe when I see people biting their fingernails or otherwise putting their hands in their mouths. I try not push buttons on ATMs etc with my finger tips. I use my knuckles instead. Although my body is more susceptible to illness during the winter months (even when I'm training in warmer climates), I follow these precautions year round. I become even more anal about it when the season starts. Getting sick before or during important races that I've been training for all year can be very, very, very, very, very de-moralizing. So, what if after all these steps - I still catch a cold? Well, if I see that I'm not able to win the war then I make sure I stop training and hit the bed as soon as possible. This is something I had trouble with earlier. I used to ignore the early warning signs and I continued training. This, of course, led to an even longer period of enforced rest. Now, with the help of my coach and medical support staff, I stop training right away and get lots and lots of sleep. I live in bed. I put all my effort into recovering as soon as possible. And when I'm recovered, I make sure I don't start out too hard. The immune-system is still weakened and too much hard training can throw me into a relapse. Of course, even with these precautions, chances are I might catch a cold - but this might help prevent it. Just a little bit. I hope and pray for an illness-free season.