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Tue 25th Feb 2020
Powercoach Zone

As part of a new monthly feature sponsored by PowerBar (, Tri247 welcomes you to the Powercoach Zone. This month, coach Joe Beer (, shows us how to beat the winter blues.


The winter can mean a series of bugs and interruptions to your normal training and competing patterns. We have varying abilities to deal with incoming infections and our varying lifestyles mean some people are more likely to have more bugs in their environment (e.g. teachers, those in contact with the public, health professionals, etc). After seeing a competitive rider put himself in hospital, on a life-support machine because illness was seen as weakness, I feel that tips, lessons and use of knowledge are paramount to keep athletes smart about how they deal with illnesses. Hero's who fight an illness only to fail in an important race have got their priorities wrong.

We have an immune system that deals with incoming baddies, Google or Wiki immune system and you'll soon see the science is very in depth. So, do everything right and it hardly goes noticed, busy keeping bugs at bay whilst you go about your day. However, train too hard, too often without sufficient recovery, perhaps due to bad sleep patterns or a love for all-things night-clubbing and bugs hit. Its also possible through insufficient or substandard nutritional intake to raise your chances of falling foul of bugs.

Exercise nudges the immune system into a heightened level of action. From mopping up of waste products (free radicals) by non-immune specific antioxidants to enhanced action of immune defence cells themselves it all goes off when you start to exercise. So, although training has many health benefits it can tip your immune function over the edge. Balance is key.

From wearing the right clothing to keeping yourself as dry as possible it's not just about what you do as what you wear. Wet clothing losses heat faster, results in a compromised rider or runner and this can add stress to the body. You don't catch a cold from getting wet but you don't help you body by doing it either. The other vital cold reducing technology is the heart rate monitor. You have no need to over stress your body if you stay below 80% effort - and watch for days when HR is skyrocketing despite normal output.

COMMANDMENT ONE – dress warm before, during and after training – and keep the training modest rather than ballistic, especially if you feel on the verge of an illness.

Also, eating, or the sum of what you drink, eat or take in supplement form, is the sum fuel for the body, and thus the immune system too. Poor diet does lead to reduced health and compromised immune strength. Something as simple as drinking excess alcohol can reduce immune system function. Recent research concluded, "moderate alcohol use can increase host susceptibility to infections caused by bacterial and viral pathogens." Ever noticed after a lot of booze (and the late night that goes with it) you can often feel rough (beyond the hangover) and pick up a cold soon after… who were you kissing?

PowerBar EnergizeThere are many pills and potions that claim to help you defend from incoming illnesses. However, the basis of a training athlete's diet has to be real food, rich in vitamins, antioxidants, water and minerals. Energy drinks are useful for the athlete in training as these help to maintain energy stores and accelerate recovery. Research shows that carbs keep the immune system functioning better. Go out all the time on water (another hero's claim) and you will be as sick as a parrot more then those on carbohydrate drinks. Proven.

PowerBar's New Energize Drink (launched March 2009) contain the high octane C2Max formula scientifically proven to deliver up to 55% more energy than traditional sports drinks and improve performance times by an average 8%*. Along with vitamins, electrolytes and branched chain amino acids to support the immune system.

*Visit to learn more about the science of C2Max.

There are many products that fill the shelves of health food stores, supermarkets and gyms. In many cases there is good reasoning behind them, that is profit, but few actually have evidence to back them up.

The much-hyped and heard about vitamin C remains a bone of contention between scientists and dietary supplement promoters. Whilst it may not stop cold it might reduce their duration, many still regard it's use as an antioxidant useful so 500mg a day is an ideal dose. Those that take mega doses of 1,000mg tablets like the rest of us eat Smarties are both over loading their body beyond anything proven to help and reducing their gains from training due to excessive antioxidant smothering of the training adaptations. Not smart either way.

PowerBar Recovery drinkThe specific amino acid Glutamine may be useful in reducing infections.It provides essential fuel for the immune response, 5-grams in a drink taken immediately and 2-hours post-exercise. But don't expect to be Superman, it's a long shot. I have found good effects with those using Echinacea, it may be a suck it an see supplement but some have good results.

Also whilst using a carb drink you will be drinking more often in training and this means you keep the throat wet so respiratory tract function maintained. The immune system, like most others in the body, is affected acutely by the level of hydration. So, drink a fluid replacement drink if you are "training" and in all cases ensure that you consume at least 1500ml (three pints) of water throughout the day.

PowerBar's Recovery Drink delivers a high quality tri source protein blend, carbohydrates and also includes Glutamine and a full vitamin and mineral complex. A great tasting way to recover after a hard session and stay strong during winter.

COMMANDMENT TWO – keep off the all-nighters and focus on your diet in the day and around training sessions. Water is your best friend.

Staying well takes effort for some, if winter hits you hard now is the time to take measures to beat the late winter bugs. The first two commandments are key but the following ten tips also are vital to be reminded about. You can’t be immune from bugs but you can make your chances better if you do smart things every day.

Swim smooth, bike safe and run light.


  1. Be sure to wash your hands regularly and kiss the cheeks not the mouth.
  2. Use disposable handkerchiefs and wash your hands throughout the day.
  3. Limit touching your mouth, nose and eyes when hands are not clean.
  4. Avoid people with a full-blown flu. Ask them to avoid you too.
  5. Keep working, eating and food preparation surfaces as clean as possible.
  6. Don't go to work or training sessions (even to watch) if you know you are ill.
  7. Listen to your body, if it says you are ill reduce any non-essential social and training commitments.
  8. Split longer sessions over the day rather than do all in one go (e.g. 2x1.5 hours instead of three hours straight).
  9. Protect your sleep as much as you can, occasional early nights can be a lifesaver to get on top of fatigue and beat an upcoming illness.
  10. Don't try to lose weight whilst bugs are abundant. Low calorie intake and or low carbohydrate intake puts your immune system vulnerable.
Supported by PowerBar

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