Author Topic: Any advice to help my sick son who has districts tomorrow in cross country?  (Read 5382 times)

runthe8

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Desperate mom here  :'(.  My freshman son, who has had a great season (16:43 last weekend on a fast course) has come down with a pretty bad cold.  It started yesterday.  I kept him home today, pumped him full of fluids, Mucinex, Emergen-C, chicken soup, kombucha, and anything else he would eat/drink.  He's not eating much, but has no fever.  He races tomorrow at 4:30 pm in his district meet.  Anybody have anything else I can do?  Also, should he go out and jog lightly even for 5 or 10 minutes just to get his body moving a bit?  He usually runs 4-5 miles before meets.  I know he shouldn't do that today but am not sure what he should do.

Thanks. 

Tinman

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Bad Timing!

Your son will lose strength, for sure, but you can limit his losses. You must have him get on his feet often and move, or else he will lose a lot of blood volume. Walking, jogging, etc, frequently is going to reduce blood loss. However, because he's sick, you cannot ask him to o much at one time. Even 5-10 minutes, 3-5 times per day, will help him a lot. Keep pushing the remedies you started, but get him to eat carbs and small, easily digestible protein often enough that his body has strength to fight the illness and sufficient energy for tomorrow's race. I recommend quality protein powder as a protein source. He'll not easily digest meat while sick. Eat fruits and consume sports replacement drinks for carbs. Avoid fibrous vegetables. Take a good quality vitamin and mineral supplement today and tomorrow.

Good luck!

Tinman
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BoilerTom90

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If it's any consolation or hope, I have a co-worker whose daughter was/is a very good runner (currently on a D1 scholarship). She was notorious for getting sick before big meets.  He mentioned to me that there were times when the cold destroyed her performance, but other times she ran some of her best races. 

From my own experience with my son (8th grader), I can attest to that.  My son ran one of his best races this fall at a time when I thought he'd perform poorly due to a cold. He was sneezing, coughing, and blowing his nose, but when the race started, he was fine. I guess it depends on the type of cold.

I wish your son well!


FTIR

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runthe800,
Hope your son is feeling better.  Please let us know how he does.  I agree with boilertom90, if he doesn't have a fever, you never know how he will feel once the gun goes off.

I am interested in exploring what Tinman is calling blood (volume?) loss.  For someone who isn't sick but only runs 3 times a week, which days should they run compared to a race?  Currently my daughter is running Wed, racing Sat and running Sun.  Would it be better for her to run Wed and Fri and race Sat?
Thanks

Tinman

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Run the day before a race, if you only run 3 times a week. That way your blood volume is raised the day of the race, and that will boost your VO2 max.
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runthe8

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Thanks, guys.  He did it!!  :D  It was one of the gutsiest races I've ever seen.  Spent most of the race in about 22nd place, looking pretty rough, then started moving up before he hit the massive hill in the last mile and made it into 15th place, where he finished.  15 qualify.  He even pr'd on this course with a 17:19.  Said he felt terrible.  He looked terrible!  I guess if he can run that well feeling bad and looking bad,  it will be really exciting if he ever feels actually good!  I was so proud of him.  Now he has over 2 weeks to get ready for regionals.  Whew!!

Tinman

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Awesome!

Did you use any of the advice? If so, what is your opinion of it. From your son's experience, others can learn.

Tinman
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runthe8

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I kept pushing fluids, gave him lots of homemade chicken soup, got him to get up and go for a short walk, and then a little later, he went out for a short, slow, easy run, about 15 minutes.  I gave him some fruit, some magnesium, zinc, vitamin C, Sambucol every 3 hours or so (a homeopathic immune booster), and mucinex.  I didn't give him any whey protein shakes because he didn't want milk (normally he loves them and has one almost every day.).  He had to go to school today in order to compete, and I just sent him with a thermos of chicken soup, fruit, carrots, and popcorn for lunch. 

Tinman, I am curious about the blood volume thing too.  One day of inactivity can reduce your blood volume?  Even if you are drinking lots of fluids?

Tinman

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Yes, blood volume can drop quickly for some and a little bit for others.

Back in the 1980s, when I became intrigued by heart rate monitor use, I discovered that every time I took a day off my heart rate a standard 7:00 per 1600m pace would rise and my breathing was a little bit faster or harder. Then, I decided to take notes on runners I knew who used heart rate monitors and I asked them questions about their heart rates, and I looked at their logs to find changes in heart rate. One time, a friend on the team asked me why his heart rate was 8 beats higher on some days than others. I looked at his log, which was very detailed, which makes sense he was an education student who has been a principal the last few years, and I noticed that every time he took a day off his heart rate would be higher the next day and anytime he ran distance over about 6 miles his comments denoted fatigue. A few weeks later I looked at the log of another cross-country runners and his comments and heart rate were similar. Then, when I was a graduate  student in exercise science I measured runners on the treadmill with HR monitors and compared them on days following rest versus days after running distance or intervals. I found that most runners were 5-8 beats higher after days off and their Perceived Exertion (on a scale of 7 to 20) was higher by a point or two.

Tinman
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FTIR

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runthe8,
Glad your son ran well.

Tinman,
Thanks for the data showing why I feel so bad when I take a day off.  I know between 30 (winter) and 90 (many years ago) miles per week this holds true for me.  But does it follow that everyone no matter how little mileage they are doing should run 7 days a week? 

My daughter is just getting started (she's 10) and between basketball practice (winter) and hiking (summer), I know she doesn't need to run extra those days.  But with a 2 or 3 day a week schedule she looks forward to running and we can pick the best weather or even drive somewhere fun.  To try to run every day would mean lots of 0.7 mile days around the block rather than 2 or 3 x 2 mile runs.  I guess there is some benefit to developing a routine...
Thoughts?

runthe8

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I'm curious about the daily running thing too.  When Tinman was coaching me a couple years ago, before I wrecked my knee, he had me running 7 days a week, which I thought I could never do. In college, I always took a day off because I thought it would help with my injury-proneness.  But I felt great running every day, and only occasionally took a day off as busy-ness dictated.  When I dropped down to 4 days a week, I hurt my knee and ended up having surgery and have had a rough couple of years getting better.  Now, I find my knee and the rest of me feels better if I run every day, even if it is just a little bit of running some days, like a couple miles.  I've been encouraging my son to run every day (his coach gives them Sundays off) and I think this has helped him this season, maybe just due to the increased mileage. 

I also coach a youth team and we only train 3 times a week.  Even after years of doing this, I am always pondering the best way to make use of those three days for the kids.  Some of them are total couch potatoes on the off days and they are definitely the kids who make the least progress over the course of a season. The ones who are playing soccer and riding their bikes on the other days just do better.  Maybe part of it is the reduced blood volume due to inactivity?

Browatt

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runthe 8,

Thanks for sharing part of your son's XC journey.  Overcoming life's every day obstacles is a valuable learning experience.  The blood volume loss research is very interesting too (thanks Tinman).  My wife has MS, but aspires to build her strength back up to running a 5k again, which seems insignificant to most runners, but would be a major milestone for her.  She is struggling with motivation and fatigue.  I am going to encourage her to get into a routine of more light cross training mixed in with run/walking instead of run/walking every other day.  It will be interesting to see how it goes. 

Tinman

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Browatt,

It's a big goal and big achievement for a person who has M.S. to run a 5km race. Bravo to your wife for her courage to pursue her dream and the determination to strive for personal excellence.

I suggest you employ the principle of the strategy that I recommended previously: high frequency of training. I think in your wife's case, it's going to be even more important to use smaller doses of training, more frequently, that bigger doses less frequently. I think her health will be better; her fatigue will be lower; and her motivation will be higher with the lose-dose, high-frequency approach to training.

Take care,

Tinman (Tom)
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Browatt

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Thanks Tinman.  Also realized the "detrained" blood volume decline only applies to the "trained".

Tinman

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Yes, it's true that the more blood volume a runner has, due to training (or heat acclimatization), the more the have to lose if they take a day off. Yet, even a 21 minute make 5km runner or 23 minutes 5km female runner can lose about 2% in their performance capacity if they take a day off, based on my observations over the years. That may not seem like much, but a 7:00 per mile pace has to be adjusted to 7:08.4 pace after a day off, for most runners. The range, I have found is 1-3% performance reduction, which in this case would be 7:04.2 to 7:12.6 per mile, given a standard of 7:00 per mile.

Tinman
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