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Hard training in the face of COVID-19
Joined: Dec 1969
Yesterday I read a private communication from a young intensive care doc in the state of Washington who is involved in the care of the most critically ill patients with the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 disease. The information was very sobering. In the state of Washington there have been young people in their twenties with no predisposing medical risk factors die from the novel coronavirus infection. Some of them have died suddenly as they seemed to be turning the corner and getting better with respect to the interstitial pneumonia that the virus causes. I am no expert on this disease. If I have anything to offer it is from the perspective of a physician with an interest in and love of running, who has some understanding of this as yet incompletely understood disease. The one issue I would raise with the running community is to remind everyone that there is a very intense level of training that causes alteration of the immune system. Many of us have had the experience of doing the long slog runs in a twelve week build up to a marathon, getting to the tapering phase right before the race, and coming down with a viral upper respiratory infection during the taper, or right after the race. There is some evidence that interferon, a protein made by our bodies that has some ability to "hold off" viral infection for a while, is elevated during these periods of intense training. Soldiers in battle and young hospital interns are notorious for getting viral infectious disease when the battle is over or in the case of interns when they finally reach the two weeks of vacation they get during their intern year. I think our young runners should continue to train. Being out on their daily runs is one of the safest places they can be, and is arguably safer than sitting in class. I think most of those who frequent this board will know what I'm talking about when I describe that feeling one gets in the last five miles of a 16 to 20 mile marathon training run. I think having our runners go "deep into the well" of reserves as the novel coronavirus appears in our communities is perhaps not in our young runners overall best interest. Now is the time for training, not straining. Having runners finish workouts with the sense that they could have gone a bit farther on long run days, or run a few more repeats on interval training days, is probably the right amount. William Blake's old adage that "you never know what is enough until you know what is more than enough" is probably never the right answer in coaching runners, especially in the face of pandemic viral disease. Thanks for your consideration.
Joined: Sep 2013
@kcolter Great insight as always Dr. Colter! We appreciate your support and love of the running community and all you continue to offer the athletes and coaches of our great state. In Health, Coach Swift
Joined: May 2008
Agreed! Sensible advice! Thank you for sharing your perspectives.
Joined: Sep 2007
As usual, Dr. Colter's advice sounds spot on to me. Sean Nunn Raytown South
Joined: Aug 2007
Colter, glad to see your post and hope you are well. I rarely leave the house except to run. My running partner is 74, and I have not seen him since the shelter in place began. At 64 I am being very careful. (although I did don a mask to get some Krispy Kreme donuts this morning.) Probably running more intensely than I should. But with all my races cancelled, I am taking advantage of the lull to work on speed. Cut back mileage to 30 mpw from 40-42, but doing 2 days of intervals per week instead of one. Best, Lee Stubblefield
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