How to manage your health better.

Tips to help recover faster from triathlon training


Things You Can Do To Help Speed Your Recovery

Your body will not be ready to do another workout if it hasn’t adequately recovered from the last one.  In between hard workouts, pro athletes will take some steps to speed up their recovery – like completing active recovery workouts – to make sure their body is loose and adequately rested to handle the stress of another hard session.  Training is a process of stringing together sessions that challenge the body.  In between the challenging sessions the athlete needs to do everything possible to get ready for another one.  Here are some common practices to improve the process of recovery.

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Home Remedy For Sinus Infection

(This article appeared in Triathlete Magazine 2011)

Those of us who suffer from allergies, cold symptoms, sinus infections suffer due to the increased congestion of mucus in the nasal passages.  Sinus rinsing can be an effective home remedy to reduce the length of time you have symptoms.  The yogis in India have been using neti pots to sinus rinse for centuries so this treatment has a long history of effectiveness.   Sinus rinsing is cheap, non-addictive and natural treatment for cold and allergy symptoms.

 When the sinuses are irritated or infected, a significant amount of mucus will accumulate in the nasal passages.  Since antibiotics are not effective in most viral illnesses, the only support you can offer your immune system during infection is to help clear mucus that collects in your nasal passages.  By using a saline solution to gently flush the nasal passages you can remove mucus blockage in your upper respiratory tract.  When mucus is cleared, your sinuses can flush properly and thus eliminate the infection that can become lodged in the cavities more quickly.  Those with allergies benefit from sinus irrigation by eliminating trapped allergens like pollen, dust or pet dander from the upper respiratory tract which cause the immune response.

There are a number of commercially available sinus rinse options including saline liquids in nasal spray bottles or atomizers as well as premixed powdered saline sachets which you mix with water at home in a neti pot or in a plastic bottle with a screw cap for nasal application.

You can make your own saline sinus rinse with common household ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon (5mL) of non-iodized salt (kosher salt)
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1mL) baking soda
  • 1 cup (250mL) of filtered warm water

Shake the ingredients until they dissolve in a sterile sinus rinse bottle or neti pot.  I find that using the sinus rinse is most sanitary in the shower since all the mess is washed away when you are finished.    Squirt the saline solution in one nostril at a time.  If you have done it correctly the solution will come out of your other nostril or your mouth.  You do not want to swallow the solution.  Blow your nose gently to remove any excess solution but not too hard, you don’t want to drain solution into your ears.  You can expect your sinuses to drain for up to an hour after rinsing which is annoying in the evening when you are trying to sleep so keep that in mind when you are timing your sinus rinse.  It can take a bit of practice to get the angle of your head right so give it a few tries before deciding how effective this remedy is for you.

Consulting with a doctor to see whether sinus rinsing is right for your symptoms is always a good idea.  If you have severely blocked sinuses it is not a good idea to try rinsing.  Also, waiting an hour after rinsing to apply any other nasal spray would avoid loss of the medication while the saline solution is draining. 

I have found that saline solutions have lessened the severity of the respiratory infections I have had over the last few years and prevented the inevitable chest infection I would contract as the infection spread.  Hopefully this home remedy can be of use for you.

Staying Healthy – Riding The Edge During a Build Phase

The last few weeks have been an exercise in restraint for me.  Depending on how I feel when I wake up in the morning it is either on – meaning it’s go time for the training plan or it’s off – which means a casual morning with the paper is in order.  February and March always seem to be the time of year when an overly ambitious training plan can result in two weeks of antibiotics to kill some nasty bug.  Given the number of people I have been in contact with over the past month with pneumonia, flu or some nasty cold, I know that I am right on the edge of getting sick nearly all of the time.

There are a few things you can do that will help you ride on the right side of that edge.  Usually, we know what the last workout that put you over was or whose hand we shook that we shouldn’t have. The following recovery and health maintenance tips might help avoid your next flu or at least cut the recovery time you may need to get over it.


Obvious!  I think in the winter and during flu time it is important to get enough sleep.  Given that the winter is often viewed as the time of year to build volume, many of us are pushing our limits.  I know that each winter I am setting new benchmarks for total volume completed. 

Part one of resting enough is to make sure you get enough sleep to recover from efforts.  If you are not able to take a nap, make sure you are tucked in bed at a reasonable hour with a book and not parked in front of the television at midnight watching another rerun of Law and Order.  You will be happy you made that decision in the morning.

Part two of rest is making sure you take easy weeks to recover.  If you don’t balance training weeks with rest weeks you will get run down and will probably catch a nasty bug.  Be preemptive – rest before you get sick, not when you get sick. 


How many times per day do you shake someone’s hand? That person has probably touched ten other people, and inevitably, one of those people has a child at home with the flu. Now when you pick up a sandwich soon you will enjoy the flu as well. The other instance might be a doorknob at home that someone touched on their way in from school or work. Germs are everywhere so compulsive hand washing is a great idea if you don’t want to be ill. When I am gearing up for a big race I will avoid public places and quarantine myself at home to avoid as many potential germ spreaders as possible. This time of year I am much mellower and just wash my hands a lot.


Often a crappy diet is the main reason why people get sick.  I always suggest that everyone add as much color as possible to your diet.  Instead of white pasta, choose brown. Choose purple, orange, red and bright green vegetables. Colorful means nutrient packed. Your diet is the strongest impact on your overall health, so take a good look at it.  Although a glass of wine with dinner is good for your heart, if you have a sore throat and you add some alcohol you may end up ill. Alcohol will certainly depress your immune function.


I like to take more antioxidants in the winter or when I think I am at risk for catching something, like when I am flying or during and after a hard training block. I take USANA vitamins, which are guaranteed to not be contaminated. By adding a bit more vitamin A, C and E, along with some Zinc and Selenium for immune system boosting, often I can avoid illness. There are also homeopathic products with Echinacea and reishi mushroom that can help if you already have something and want to get rid of it. Taking these products does not give you a free ticket to exercise; you still have to cut the training if you are sick.


Most of us know when we are on the edge of illness, just as we can sense an injury before it actually happens. The key is to quit while you are still ahead. It is always true that a couple of days off while you are healthy will be better than a week off being sick.  Although all of us make that mistake over and over, it is still good to think of it when you have the option to quit while you are still healthy.

Good luck with happy, healthy training!

Coach Mel: Painless Transition To Training

Ho ho ho!  'Tis the season to start panicking about family engagements, Christmas shopping, lack of mileage and that extra piece of cake someone smuggled on to your plate.  I think a lot of people use Christmas as the final deadline for bad athletic behaviour before turning over a new leaf at 12:01am January 1st with newfound zest for training.  Unfortunately, only very highly tuned engines can go from zero to a hundred in a matter of seconds and this is also true of the human body.  Laying off heavily for a month or two to then go back to a heavy workout regime to try to shed pounds and gain fitness in a matter of days is a recipe for injury and illness.  So, how do we get back to the lean, mean, powerful machines we were in late summer without multiple trips to the garage for repairs?  I will go over some of the details that are so often overlooked that should be implemented before heavy training is on the menu.

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The Never Ending Cold?

Nothing makes an athlete more grumpy than a cold. Taking time off to lay in bed feeling miserable is not quality rest, it is pure torture. Especially while you watch your training partners out training, getting fitter and winning races while you struggle to even turn the pedals. This spring, I had two MONTHS of alternating sick in bed a few days, feeling miserable a few days, a few days of crappy training, then one positive training day, only to find myself back in bed sick. It has been a nightmare. Lots of people I know have told stories about themselves or co-workers dealing with nightmarish flu bugs and allergies this season, but this experience has been something altogether new for me. Now, two months after my first symptoms of a cold, I am finally on antibiotics, but hopefully this is the last step to getting healthy. Read more