Shingles and Endurance Athletes

Question I received from a long course triathlete:

I have managed to get a very painful case of shingles.  I have missed a few weeks of training but should be healthy soon.  I have a long course triathlon in a few weeks. WWSD (what would Sue do)?


The WWSD cracks me up!

Whenever I talk to an endurance athlete with shingles, I hear warning bells go off in my head. Shingles is a systemic response and often a symptom of a body under stress.  You are smart not to train through it.  My advice is to try and transfer your race to any Ironman that is available later this year. Your body has given you a loud and clear message.

Time to listen.

If there isn’t an open race then I would call it a season.  Involvement in our sport is about making positive lifestyle choices.  The ability to improve depends on our physical health and backing up our training day in and day out. When our physical health deteriorates, we need to focus on being healthy again. The first step towards good health is a reduction in training/intensity.

Your body is giving you a sign that there are some things to address.  My suggestion is to find a coach for 2015 and guide you on the journey that can help you to be healthy and race ready.

Be smart.  Your family loves you and they deserve you to be at full strength.  Choose the lifestyle, not the race.

So final answer to WWSD?  I would end my race season.  I would focus on my health and recovery. This fall and winter I would address the things that would lead to a healthy and great season in 2015.

Get well soon!


NOTE: I am not a medical professional! Shingles should be diagnosed and treated by your personal physician. There are options for treatment and vaccination. More info here.

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