Advice from Wendy Martinson OBE, a performance nutritionist who has worked with elite athletes in many sports and is a nutrition consultant for vitamins and supplements brand Healthspan Elite.

 

For coaches and self-coached runners, monitoring is fundamental to assess the relationship between training load and the risk of injury and illness. A variety of methods can be used such as recording training load, mood profiles, RPE and psychological screening.

Outlined below are some of the nutrition and hygiene strategies that are recommended by the IOC to help prevent illness in athletes:

* Introduce a personalised nutrition program to avoid deficiencies of essential micronutrients

* Consume carbohydrate during and after exercise and consume both carbohydrate and protein after exercise

* Measure and monitor the vitamin D status of athletes and supplement if required

* Consider a probiotic such as lactobacillus probiotics on a daily basis

* Consider regular consumption of fruits and plants, polyphenol supplements (e.g. quercetin) or foodstuffs (non alcoholic beer and green tea) that may reduce risk of illness

* Consider zinc lozenges (> 75mg zinc/day; high zinc content) at the onset of upper respiratory symptoms as there is some evidence that the number of days with illness can be reduced

* Ensure the schedule has adequate recovery included, particularly after intensive training periods, competitions and travel, including nutrition and hydration, sleep and rest, active rest, relaxation strategies and emotional support

* Wash hands regularly and effectively with soap and water especially before meals and after direct contact with potentially contagious people, animals, blood, secretions, public places and bathrooms

* Carry insect repellent, antimicrobial foam/cream or alcohol based hand washing gel

* Do not share drinks bottles, cups, cutlery, towels etc. with other people

* Choose drinks from sealed bottles, avoid raw vegetables and under cooked meat, wash and peel fruit before eating, while competing or training abroad

* Avoid excessive drinking and binge drinking of alcohol as this impairs immune function for several hours, particularly after strenuous training or competition