By GritLink

Connecting Endurance Athletes with Sports Care Providers

Tue May 12, 2020

Our immune systems are on high alert these days in order to protect us against a global pandemic. As athletes, we also need to consider the impact of our training on our immune health. Should we be adjusting our training right now? If so, how? Should we be training at all, or is our training over-stressing our immune systems?

In this discussion, we hear three insightful perspectives on being an athlete during COVID-19 and how our training affects our immune health.

This is a can’t-miss discussion for anyone who:

  • Has had races cancelled or postponed and is unsure how to adjust training to stay fit, yet protect their immune system during this time
  • Wants to continue training hard during COVID-19
  • Is interested in gaining a deeper perspective on optimizing immune health, as an athlete


Cortney: [00:00:00] We’re in a time right now where everybody is at a heightened level of concern about their immune health and possibly especially so for athletes, because we have the stress of our training. To think about as well. And we know that training helps our immune system. It also can hurt our immune system and it can get a little bit confusing, and so we thought we would take this opportunity with this really unique panel to look at many different perspectives of what immune health means for the endurance athlete. 

[00:00:42] Our goals for tonight are to understand the impact of endurance training on immune health and also to give you tips and guidance about how to adjust your training, your nutrition and recovery to protect your immune health. 

[00:01:01] So joining us tonight, we have, like I mentioned, three different varying perspectives on this topic. We have Marilyn Chychota who is a performance coach, and will speak to the training aspect of our immune health. Sarah Koszyk, who is a registered dietician, can talk to us about nutrition and how to adjust that for our immune health. And Stephanie Norby, who is a massage therapist and will encourage us all to recover for immune health. So I’m going to start by letting these women. Introduce themselves. tell you a little bit about them and then we’ll, lighten up the mood a bit. And I’m just gonna do a quick rapid fire round here. But, We’ll get to that in a minute. So, Marilyn, would you like to start for us? 

[00:01:50] Marilyn: [00:01:50] Yeah. Thanks for having me, Cortney. It’s a, it’s always great to chat with people about current things going on. I’m my endurance coach and specialize mostly in triathlon, but, you know, I have a deep history in terms of cycling, running, triathlon, dabbled in some of the strength sports, weightlifting, CrossFit, as well as my, my grassroots are actually equestrian show jumping. So a big variety of sports. I’ve been an endurance sport since 1999 and I had a 10 year professional career. And then always wanted, I’ve always been a coach.

[00:02:25] I’ve been coaching pretty much my whole life and the variety of different sports. And I knew that I wanted to specialize in giving back into endurance sports when I retired from racing professionally. And, and that’s what I do full time now is develop athletes in the endurance world and, and, you know, give back and coach coach full time. 

[00:02:44] Cortney: [00:02:44] Thank you. Thanks for being here tonight, Marilyn. Thanks. Sarah. Would you like to tell us a bit about yourself? 

[00:02:52] Sarah: [00:02:52] Sure. my name is Sarah and I’m a registered dietician and sports nutritionist. And I primarily work with runners. I work with cyclists and swimmers. I’ve, I write for, I was the nutrition columnist for ultra running magazine and I’m the current columnist for swimmer magazine and a few other running publications to name a couple. And, I’m a fan of sports. let’s see. My professional background, I’ve been a dietician for over 12 years now, and I did a career change. I was previous, I had a previous company and then I was really into health and wellness and I wanted to.

[00:03:28] Kind of like Maryland, give back and you know, make the world a better place. And I have always had a passion for food and nutrition and it’s amazing how we can fuel ourselves through our food and nutrition and we can recover and, and how it can affect our health. So that’s why I got into this field and.

[00:03:44] And I’ve been doing it ever since. So it’s been a lot of fun. But I love, I love the, I love the sports nutrition factor too, cause it’s just so interesting how different, you know, macro nutrients and nutrients can affect our performance and recovery. So that’s really exciting for me. 

[00:04:00] Cortney: [00:04:00] Great. Thank you for being here, Sarah. And Stephanie. 

[00:04:04] Stephanie: [00:04:04] Yeah. Good evening everyone. My name is Steph Norby and the owner operator of Rollingstone mobile massage. I service the greater Seattle area, that East side and West side. most of my clients are really active, so not surprisingly being in Washington state, I work with everyone from weekend warriors up to professional athletes.

[00:04:24]I also work with some area partners, including some chiropractic. Offices, and, and the like, as well as, I’m also one of the massage therapists for the Seattle seawalls MLR rugby team when there’s actually a season going on, as well as the Washington state sports massage association, which works at events like STP, ramrod, Seattle marathon, and others like that.

[00:04:48]background wise, I actually, same similar thing to Sarah. I made a career change. I was actually in events and marketing, for over a decade and I made the switch a few years ago to massage therapy because I have been an athlete most of my life, and kind of utilized massage as part of my recovery as well as my treatment cause I have some of my own chronic issues.

[00:05:10] And so I just knew. From personal experience with the benefit of massage can be, especially for athletes. So really wanted to go down this path and be able to make a difference in individual lives. 

[00:05:23] Cortney: [00:05:23] That’s great. Thank you. Okay. Before we get to immune health, we’re just going to have a little bit of fun.  so I promise not to make you. Talk about anything too embarrassing. We’ll just do a quick rapid fire. Three questions. So just first thing that comes to your mind. One word, one sentence. 

[00:05:41] First question. If you could have a meal with a famous person, dead or alive, who would it be? Maryland. 

[00:05:50] Marilyn: [00:05:50] Definitely Dolly Parton. Yeah. I absolutely love her. Her sense of humor and yeah, definitely   

[00:06:00] Sarah: [00:06:00] david Bowie. I’m a fan. I was really heartbroken when he passed away. I would bring them back. Yeah, new sessions. He’s definitely a superstar 

[00:06:12] Stephanie: [00:06:12] The

[00:06:13] Dalai Lama, just because I think he is one of, he’s so cute. He’s just, he’s funny. He has a great personality, and just being able to kind of soak up that wisdom from him would be amazing. 

[00:06:25] Cortney: [00:06:25] Cool. Second question, what is your favorite quarantine activity other than your training or exercising? 

[00:06:36] Marilyn: [00:06:36] Oh, me first. Yeah. Yeah. Probably, probably writing, actually. I, I really enjoy writing. I have, you know, write a lot of articles, that kind of stuff, and I really actually enjoy writing quite a bit, so, yeah, that would be it. 

[00:06:49] Sarah: [00:06:49] Well, I, I, it’s kind of weird. I haven’t really changed much. I think I just enhanced the books I’m able to read, but definitely reading. I’m a big reader and so I read a lot just in general, but I think now that I actually have a little tiny bit more time in the evenings and the reading thing, great.

[00:07:08] Stephanie: [00:07:08] I think for me, I’ve been trying to tap into my creative side a little bit more. just cause I haven’t had the time to do it lately. So I made a vision board for next year. That took a lot. That’s a lot of time to go through magazines and clip things. So that took a lot of time. and then I’m also putting together a scrapbook, for a family member.

[00:07:29] So just being able to kind of take some downtime and focus all my energy on that has been fun. 

[00:07:35] Cortney: [00:07:35] That’s great. And nobody said their favorite activity was baking, which seems to be the popular activity that I see on social media. Definitely not me. Okay. Last question. What is your favorite motivational word phrase or quote?

[00:07:52] Marilyn: [00:07:52] Marilyn. well, the one that’s personal to me is, never die wondering. That’s my personal quote and it’s motivational to me just because I think, you know, it sort of speaks for itself that I never, I never, ever wanted to reach my older years and wake up one day and wonder what if, and so I’ve lived a lot of my life by that phrase.

[00:08:20] Sarah: [00:08:20] Mine’s actually kind of similar to Marilyn in the sense where reminds ’em, how can I make today the best day ever? And not in the sense where I’m thinking like tomorrow I’m going to die or anything like that. But if today were to be like my ultimate day, how can I at least make it, you know, worthwhile and fun. And you know, a good time. 

[00:08:39] Stephanie: [00:08:39] Mine is. So the quote is there are two ways to spread light. To be the candle or the mirror that reflects it. So I’ve just held onto that quote for a really long time because I, if I’m having a bad day, it always seems like someone else’s in a good mood. And just trans transfers that positive energy to me, and I try to do the same, with my outlook and positivity and just being able to kind of help one person, you know, just a person at a time type thing.

[00:09:08] Cortney: [00:09:08] That’s awesome. And I love how all three of you had something on the tip of your tongue. So it’s obviously something you’ve thought a lot about 

[00:09:16] We’re going to just get right to the controversy that I’ve seen a little bit lately, is your immune system impacted by exercise? And if so, how? And Sarah, if you can start us off on that. 

[00:09:36] Sarah: [00:09:36] Okay, sure. Yeah. So, research and studies, from, and I’m talking more from just more of a nutrition standpoint, by the way, just to let everyone know for disclaimers, but, definitely when we’re stressed out, there’s stress hormones, increased cortisol and research and studies have shown that exercise does reduce stress. And so definitely the more stress we have, our immune system can actually lower. so exercise can help support our immune system by reducing some of the stress hormones and whatnot. So that can kind of, be a relationship between moderate exercise training and an illness and risk of illness.

[00:10:16] Cortney: [00:10:16] Okay. Marilyn, do you want to add to that? 

[00:10:20] Marilyn: [00:10:20] Yeah, I really like what you touched on there and you know, I’ll add to that in that when you’re looking specifically at your training and you’re talking about cortisol and stress, if you stress is very high and you’re looking at your overall training plan now, it would be a time I might not recommend super high intensity. Or, very high volume. And the reason for those two things is both of them can have a higher stress load on your immune system. So if you’re already struggling with that kind of thing, you know, now’s not the time to suddenly try, you know, your, your maximum amount of weeks that you’re, you’ve ever done in your life, you, you know, stay close to what you’re used to doing. And I also just recommend backing off the intensity just a little bit, not only for the immune system. But also for, you know, if we’re not going to have any events for a long time, there is, you know, it’s probably worth backing off that intensity a little bit right now anyways. I would focus more on strength frequency, maybe, you know, short, frequent type sessions, skill-based sessions, those kinds of things. And I think, you know, increasing the frequency increasing your skills  increasing  just your overall health through frequently reducing the stress is going to be better than adding more stress to it by, by increasing maybe volume or you know, intact entity to your overall plan. 

[00:11:43] Sarah: [00:11:43] And actually, funny enough, so last week I spoke with two. I’m writing an article for Swimmer Magazine on, previous Olympics swimmers. And so I know that it’s still a little bit different than running, but it’s interesting because one of the swimmers, when I asked her, one of the Olympians, when I asked her, what was your biggest challenge when you were training intensely for the Olympics. And she actually said getting sick, mainly because the intense training, but it’s not just intense training. It’s also too, like maybe there’s lack of sleep. maybe you’re not recovering correctly, like post-workout. Are you having that post-workout. Like a recovery, you know, a snack or meal. are you getting enough rest? So it was a, it was, it was an all encompassing type of component. So, you know, as Marilyn mentioned, when you are training really intensely, then you’re putting a lot of extra stress on your body and therefore your immune system can go down. It’s kind of like, you know, like when you’re super crazy stressed and all of a sudden you’re like, whatever happens, it ends and then you get like the flu or you get sick. Sick, you know, or like you’re so stressed out before vacation, then, right when you go on vacation, you get sick because you’re finally relaxed. So it’s that kind of idea where, when we are training hard, we need to really focus too on, are we getting enough sleep? Are we getting the right recovery? when, if with food and nutrition, you know, protein, carbs, all that jazz in the right rest. So yeah, I was just to kind of, and that can help optimize our immune system. 

[00:13:04] Marilyn: [00:13:04] Yeah, and one area that you can focus on a little bit more if there’s, if, if there’s something else that you’re like, okay, I’m staying pretty close to the volume that I always do. I’ve reduced intensity a little bit. I’m working on my skills. What else can I continue to improve towards when I do want to ramp up. The intensity up a little bit. I would say focus more on sports specific strength because that’s going to set a really good foundation towards when it is time to say, okay, now I can start to lift that stuff up and you’re not feeling like, okay, I’m starting from ground zero. You’ve already got that good foundation of sports specific strength or, or maybe even just some, you know, quick turnovers that are sure, that kind of thing. Keeping things short, snappy, strong and close home. That’s going to set you up well for when this period opens up and you’re able to lift things a little bit.

[00:13:49] Cortney: [00:13:49] Yeah. along, I think both Marilyn and Sarah touched on this a little bit, and Sarah especially mentioned recovery quite a bit. so Stephanie, I wanted to ask you. maybe specifically related to to recovery, but also what you see in your work with athletes. What are some challenges that athletes face when it comes to immune health?

[00:14:14]Stephanie: [00:14:14]  Yeah, so that’s actually a really great segue. there are. Major challenges, at least coming from, from my scope. that, I see. So the first one is, you know, some sources do say that athletes can experience decreased immunity due to high intensity training and competition. I liked the article that, Courtney that you guys was accurately just sent out. one of the recent Tuesday training tips that article, you know, on the other side of the fence saying that exercise, you know, increases immunity, but poor diet, sleep and stress are actually the culprits. 

[00:14:47] you know, on one hand during competition, you’re usually around more people too, and you have less social distancing. you’re using shared equipment. So, I mean, you’ve got all of these other people and all of their germs and everything around you. So, yeah, I mean, of course there’s more opportunity for you to, to catch something if you’re around more people. under normal circumstances. On the other hand, high-intensity sport can, you know, increase cortisol levels too, and also increase inflammation, which can make you more susceptible to illness during those high level training periods. you know, inflammation is good, but not an overabundance of, for a long period of time. so. A solution for that one within, again, within my scope. being able to add into. At a post event and or recovery massage into your routine. The post event typically happens 15 to 20 minutes after competition and lasts 10 to 30 minutes and just focuses on major muscle groups that you use in your competition. using lighter, pain-free techniques, to just kind of. Relaxed your, your overused muscles and increase lymphatic circulation. and also just increase general relief from, from competition. 

[00:15:59] Recovery massage is one to three days post event, and can similar to post event, and such sessions, but just a longer duration of, and those sessions can really help just increase overall circulation, decrease the cytokine levels, which is what aids in inflammation, help increase lymphocytes, which are your white blood cells. and then also help decrease cortisol overall, which. Cortisol increases your chance, you know, or lowers your immunity. Really. 

[00:16:30] the second challenge. But I think of is, you know, if you’ve got, if an athlete has existing or chronic issues, so, you know, pass injuries, arthritis, sciatica, anything like that, being able to work with a massage therapist and other providers too. but doing maintenance and treatment massage sessions during your training program, would actually, you know, being able to schedule one of those sessions. For an off training day would be great just to address specific injuries in those specific overused muscle groups, that are common in your sports. And then also just being able to use that, those sessions as part of your overall health regimen, to help you recover quicker and then just prevent the onset of new injuries or worsening exists existing injuries as well as helping to increase your mobility. 

[00:17:22] Cortney: [00:17:22] How can we, so right now, a lot of us are unable to see a massage therapist. and, and also we’re not competing. We’re not racing. And so these things that you’re talking about, I think they, they really resonate. But in this time, Are there a couple thing? How can we detect some sort of warning signals, I guess? Like we’re not going to be doing really, really long races and we don’t have that pre, we don’t have that post event massage scheduled and ready to go where we’re counting on someone else to take care of us. So we’re kind of taking care of ourselves. what should we be looking for? What if we do choose to do an intense training session? To signal us that we, we should do some body care and then what should we do? 

[00:18:09] Stephanie: [00:18:09] Yeah, so definitely, I think, especially post training, you know, make sure that you’re doing an active warmup before you, you know, if you’re going out for a run or for a ride, whatever it may be, make sure that you’re getting hydrated. You have an, you know, good nutrition on board to sustain you through your program. and then just that active, Active movement prior to, you know, a little bit of light stretching, but stretching is great for post workout. So once, you know, once you’re done, making sure that you’re, if you feel a cramp coming on, making sure that you’re stopping, stretching it out there.

[00:18:43] There are different cramp protocols. you know, and I’m always happy to talk to people about what those are, but, you know, compression, reciprocal inhibition, things like that. So making sure that you’re aware of, you know, if you feel cramping coming on. To stop, stretch it out. Don’t try to keep going. cause that’s going to make it worse. If you get back home and you feel every, you know, you’re achy or you feel like things, your mobility is limited. Make sure that you’re stretching it. It’s long enough afterward. If you’ve cooled down, you know, you can throw ice on an area if you’ve got an existing injury that sore ice is great for helping reduce acute inflammation, later that night. And Epsom salt bath is really good. and then there are definitely tools out there like theracanes, if you’ve got a knot or an impingement in your shoulder and you have to be the one to work on it. Theracanes are great for addressing those direct trigger points. rolling out your feet if your feet are sore and using a lacrosse ball, to roll those out and just get all of that fascist, separated. so those are just a couple of small things you can do, but you can definitely look up self care, options for, for athletes. and again, like I said, I’m always happy to. To help people if they want to. If you want to email me just to give you some tips and tricks on what to do for yourself since we’re, you know, we’re limited with services right now. 

[00:20:11] Cortney: [00:20:11] Marilyn and Sarah, anything to add to that or a personal experience you can share with some of those ways that you know that it’s a time to take things down a notch or do some sort of foam rolling or lacrosse ball or something like that.

[00:20:29] Marilyn: [00:20:29] Yeah. I think, you know, one thing that just, this is isn’t exactly addressing your question, but I’ll, I’ll get to that is, you know, people are sitting a lot more because they’re at home a lot more. So we’re used to, for a lot of people, not everybody, but for a lot of people, they’re used to, maybe, you know, they’re, they’re headed to work, they’re walking around a little bit more in their day to day life, even just in daily activities. And you might find that. You’re sitting a lot more. And so you know, you’re, there’s areas that you find are tighter than they normally would be. Hip flexors, hamstrings, calves, these kinds of things. And so I’m hearing a lot of that from my athletes where they’re just tight in places that they normally aren’t.

[00:21:07] The other thing that I’m hearing from a lot of triathletes specifically is that because we are used to swimming and. Swimming aids as a bit of recovery and loosens things up and reduces a little bit of swelling, all of those things, and suddenly not having that in the mix. For the majority of people, everyone is just a lot more sore than they normally are. Maybe they have increased their strength training just a little bit more than they would doing swim chords or, you know, core sessions, that kind of stuff. Increasing running a little bit. Maybe they’re riding their bike a little bit more, being a little bit more like a single sport athlete. So there’s not as much variety in their training as well as we’re not getting the recovery from swimming. So overall body soreness is just a lot higher. And so if you start hearing from your athletes or you notice with yourself that for two, three. Even up to five days in a row, your soreness level is over. And if you’re going to use a scale from one to 10, 10 being sourced and you thinking, geez, for five days soreness has been over a 7. That might be your cue to say, Hey, I need to back it off. A little. Going to spend a day doing some ice fasting, some Epsom salt using things like their guns foam rolling. Just loosening up a lot more and get up more often. If you’re sitting around at home a lot, you know, move from, if you’re, you know, sitting at your kitchen table, sitting at a desk, then move to the, you know, a standup type situation.If we don’t have a standup desk at home, the kitchen counter top works great. Those kinds of things. just see yourself move up, stand up, move around a lot more often so that, that feeling of, Hey, I’m tight in areas that I haven’t normally felt before or my soreness is sticking around. At, over a seven out of 10 for more than three to five days. Those are sort of little cues you can say in your head, what do I need to do differently today to make sure this doesn’t get out of control? 

Stephanie: Yeah. Listening to your body, that’s, especially right now with our routines, you know, a lot of, a lot of people are dealing with completely different routines right now.

[00:22:55] Some not as much, but definitely just listening to your body, if you’re feeling. Aches and pains that you normally wouldn’t, you know, kind of think about what are those activities of my daily life that I’m doing now that I wasn’t before? Or, you know, less or more of just to try to deduce what might be going on. And then trying to figure out a modification for that. 

Marilyn: And I just want to actually ask, one thing to add in and sort of ask. You know the others’ opinions on this as well. From a coaching perspective, you know, this time of year when we are focused on races, often athletes are also focused on [00:23:33] changing their body composition at this time of year. And as it heats up, it gets summer in some places. And you know, they’re looking at changing their nutrition towards being, especially if they are, a lot of people answered the poll, they’re increasing their training. Maybe they’re getting leaner and leaner. [00:23:47] And we know one of the things is as we get into our absolute leanest state towards our, you know, key and prime race condition, those types of things that also might come along with the density. That’s when we’re most susceptible to illness. So another recommendation I would make, and I’d like you ladies to chime in, is if you’re athletes, if you can encourage them to not get themselves down to Raceway at this time of year, just yet, you know, we all like, we’re all a little bit vain and we all do this a little bit because we want to look good too. [00:24:18] And so of course stay, stay healthy, look good. But if you’re one of those athletes that focuses on chipping down weight at this time of year. And you are increasing your training. I would, I recommend my athletes like, Hey, it’s okay if you’re, you know, maybe you know, a few pounds higher than you normally are. [00:24:35] And that’s actually another common theme I’m hearing from athletes is, Hey, I’m heaviest I’ve ever been. That might be a conversation to have and say, that’s okay right now because a little bit of extra weight right now is not only going to help your immune system, but it’s going to come off really quickly when we get back to our normal life and we get back into race reparation, and you know, maybe you’re setting yourself up for success down the road in September, October, 2021 if we’re not overly lean right now and get put herself at risk of getting sick. [00:25:03] I don’t know what you ladies think that, sorry. I sort of like threw that at you. 

Sarah: I agree completely. I mean it’s in fact, one of the, nutrients I’m going to talk about today is Omega three which is a heart healthy fat and how important it is. Cause we do need a little bit of fat on our body. [00:25:19] And yes, we want to be our lean, ideal worries, weight or whatever it may be. But at the same time, sometimes when having. Oh, there’s the tiniest bit of the extra cushion, as Marilyn was mentioning, we can keep up our immune system to really support it. And then also touching base on what Stephanie was saying too earlier about the hydration factor to making sure we stay hydrated. [00:25:40] Cause I know for, you know, with our, my old routine, I had a different hydration, you know. You know, being in an office or whatever it was. And, now we might not be remembering to drink as much water. That is not, not your tequila for beer, drinking, drinking alcohol. I know people are doing a lot more alcoho. [00:25:59 ]and there are, the sales are off the charts, but I’m talking to how water hydration or electrolyte hydration. So, yeah. So that’s another thing too, just to take note of that could help with our or immunity.

Cortney: Sarah, since we’re talking about, a lot of nutrition related things we did want to ask you actually, we have, another. [00:26:21] Question for the audience. Another poll question specifically related to your nutrition habits, and that is how have habits, been impacted by the coven crisis? So I will put this out there and we have a lot of different options. take a moment to read those and enter in your answers. [00:27:03] We have some interesting results. We have, a third of the people said that there’s no impact to their nutrition habits. 17% eating more sweets and treats. And then I would say the most popular answer here, cooking more at home. So with that, those answers, Sarah, you mentioned Omega-3s, but, are there specific foods or supplements that athletes should be taking to enhance their immune system? [00:27:45] And I do have some slides for you, so I will, share these. 

Sarah: I know that, you know, we all know about like certain vitamins like vitamin C, you know, take your emergency to stay healthy, but I want to talk about three nutrients that are important for immune support, and are gaining a lot more momentum with the research and whatnot.

[00:28:06] So, vitamin D is one of those just incredible nutrients, the vitamins that it has so many benefits and we’re really, we’re finding out from our heart research how. How much it impacts the body. and one of the ways, and just talking from an immune standpoint, besides all the other fabulous things that it does, it definitely helps modulates some of our innate and adaptive immune responses.

[00:28:30] So an innate would be like your body’s first line of defense, like, you know, when you, initially if a pathogen comes in and. It’s kind of like the way that the body just protects yourself. and then adaptive is more how the body, they build specific, what specific pathogens they build specific immunity. [00:28:47] It’s kinda like if people choose to get the flu shot, you know, you get, you get a flu shot and then now you built up an immunity. So if you touch the flu again, then boom, the B cells T cells can combat it. So one thing that they found though, how vitamin D works with this is it actually, the immune cells have vitamin D receptors on them, which actually help promote the protective support factor. [00:29:13] So they’re finding that vitamin D can support our immune system. Now, I’m not a huge supplement fan. I’m definitely a food first. And, we can get vitamin D from the sun. people that have darker skin tones, though, it takes their bodies longer to synthesize and process the vitamin D. So people with lighter skin, it tends to synthesize faster. [00:29:35]but we definitely can get vitamin D from the sun. we can also get through some foods. And so, you know, granted, like. The fatty fish is here on the slide, the fortified foods, the egg yolks, the mushrooms. now, vitamin T is one of those vitamins that, like I said, I definitely advocate a food first. [00:29:54] However, with some, depending on if you have a deficiency in before you start to supplement, I always recommend getting tested to see if you have a deficiency or not. But, on average, most people. can benefit from vitamin D cause they, their numbers tend to be really low on the scale. So if people do want a supplement, I say take a vitamin D three. [00:30:14]and generally they range from a thousand to 2000 IUs, depending on the brand. But taking one of those a day. Should be fine, but I’m definitely like, I would advocate getting it from the food first. You know, post-workout, you could have like a mushroom omelet, you know, with a glass of milk and then, Oh, golden berries too. [00:30:34] So those are one of the few fruits that actually have vitamin D in them. So they’re, they’re pretty powerful stuff. And I know that they’re getting a lot more popular. Like you can now find them in major grocery stores, like Safeway and Whole Foods and stuff like that too. So I’ll do the next slide.

[00:30:50] Okay. Okay. So Omega-3s. So Omega-3 is kind of like what Marilyn was saying before, just by, it’s okay if you’re, if you have a little more fat in your system. So omega-3s are those heart healthy fats. And, they, once again, they activate both the adaptive immune cells and really optimize our immune response. [00:31:09] And, when I say food first, if you noticed, in the last slide, the vitamin D, well, there’s fatty fish. Fatty fish had that too. So it’s like right now when you eat something like a salmon, you’re not just getting that one dose. Like if you just take a vitamin D pill, you’re just getting vitamin D. [00:31:28] Versus if you eat a whole food, like a Walnut or chia seeds, like chia seed. Not only does it have Omega-3s, but it has fiber, it has protein. So you know, it has like all these additional benefits for us that can optimize our health and wellness and our recovery too. Cause as we were mentioning earlier. [00:31:46]when you put a lot of stress on your body with exercise, recovering appropriately and adequately can really help you, with your support, your immune system so that you stay, you know, you stay energized, you stay fueled, you get less sore. so those are some things that can really help too.

[00:32:06] And then. The last slide. Okay. Okay, so probiotics. Now one thing I know, they’re kind of like the hot topic of 2019 so I just love the fact that they’re getting more and more research done. So basically probiotics represent like 70% of our entire immune system. So with that in mind, our health essentially begins in our gut, which is pretty, which is pretty powerful when you think about it. [00:32:33] And they help regulate the systemic and mucosal immune cells and the intestinal epithelial cells, which means that they basically contribute to like optimal that health and then which supports our immune system. And when your intestines are in balance, they’re strong. And then they have like a really protective response. [00:32:52] So definitely like probiotics. Are good for you. Now, once again, do you need a supplement? I mean, there’s a lot of foods that actually have it naturally. 

Nutritional yeast I wrote down in there too. so one thing cool about nutritional use is they did, some research and studies, based on marathon runners. [00:33:11] And, during this study they were looking at athletes who overtrain and may put on excess stress in their bodies. And then the people that were doing the nutritional yeast supplement. they found that the fiber and the probiotics may help support, immune decline in marathon runner. So it actually can help reduce, the, the, the declining immune system. [00:33:32] So that was a positive benefit. And then other studies have suggested that the yeast, can also have, it can help support like your intestinal flora and fauna. So it makes kind of like your gut just extra good. So with that said, You know, when it comes down to it, if you have like a really well balanced [00:33:49] diet in the sense where you could have like a post-workout snack. You could do, you know, a smoothie and you could have yogurt. you could put in some, golden bear. You know, you could put in some chia seeds so you can put these things into it. Or you could, like I mentioned the, the omelet thing, you could do like a post workout meal. [00:34:08]you know, you could do like the omelet with some spinach and some mushrooms and, You can put nutritional yeast on it, cause nutritional yeast is kind of like cheese now you have like a cheesy omelet. So you know, there’s just ways to kind of like bring all the love into that simple meal and then you’re getting all these different benefits.

Cortney [00:34:29] That’s great, Sarah. Thank you. I think there’s probably a lot of people who would disagree that nutritional yeast is like cheese. I mean, the vegans will agree with you. 

Sarah: I know, I know that the vegans will agree. I know. And I actually, interestingly enough, I work with a lot of vegan athletes and yes, don’t get me wrong, I personally eat everything. [00:34:50]I, I have more of a plant based diet, but I definitely, I definitely eat, meat and seafood and whatnot. But, yes. but nutritional use is like the cheese substitute, and you can be vegan and you can be an athlete and you can be just disclaimer. Yes. 

Cortney: Great. That was, that was good. So we had vitamin D, Omega threes, and probiotics.

Sarah: [00:35:12] Yeah. So those are some, those are just three nutrients that I would, you know, consider, in my general daily, weekly routine, I should say. that also provide immune support besides your standard, you know, everyone knows about vitamin C emergency kind of thing. 

Cortney: [00:35:31] We, we really started out by talking about this a lot. but maybe if we can go into a little more detail, and Marilyn, I’ll ask you, how should athletes adjust their training and recovery to protect their immune system? You talked about this a little bit with the skills and strengths, but maybe if there’s some [00:35:51]specific resources or tools or exercises you can recommend for? I know we have a lot of, it’s mostly runners, cyclists, and triathletes out there. 

Marilyn: Yeah. I think, you know, right now there’s a lot of, if, if you’re looking for, you know, strength routines and stuff like that, there’s a lot of great zoom yoga course classes out there to tap into Pilates classes, that kind of thing. [00:36:14]there’s a lot of people putting together really good swim cords zoom classes that you can tap into. I certainly have on my website on the guidelines and forms a good little TRX routine. If you happen to have one of those women around at home, I even have a, you know, a couple programs in there just online for free, you know, at home core routine type stuff. [00:36:33] So there’s, you know, there’s a lot of great options out there in terms of finding a good strength routine to do right there in your own home and focus on core and mobility and those types of things. So that’s one way of doing it, as well as the sports specific stuff. You know, if you’re, if you’ve got access to a treadmill or Hill’s right around you, obviously that’s the way you’re going to do sports specific work on the run. [00:36:56] And then big gear work if you’re on the trainer, that type of stuff where, and, and even if you wondering what does big gear work mean? I have a really good video of that and my YouTube channel. You can check it out there. I give a good explanation on how to execute a big gear workout. So those kinds of things are going to be more sports specific if you’re adding it into your program. [00:37:15] So that’s a way to address strength through this time period. And, and you know, stay set a really solid foundation towards once you come out of this period and you’d want to start to work on more of those specific threshold. VO two max and re specific type of set. Yes. And then again, like I say, the frequency, you know, if you, if you’ve [00:37:34] got a little bit more time on your hands and you want to break your sessions up, you know, do a session in the morning where you do maybe 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes at night, if that’s the way you can work things, or maybe even do something like, you know, 30 minutes in the morning, 20 minutes at noon and 30 minutes at night.

[00:37:49] So you’re getting that vitamin D, you’re going outside if it’s possible for you, you’re getting the frequency, you’re getting, you know, just a little bit more often and less stressful. So, you know, in a busy life when we’re not able to. Great. Now, you know, in a normal day to day, you might not be able to go out and. [00:38:08] You have to get all of it down in the morning. You say, I’ve got two hours in the morning and that’s all I’ve got, and then I’ve got my whole day at work and kids and all of this stuff. Well, now maybe your life structure looks a little bit different, and so you can say, okay, well I’m going to do a little bit in the morning, a little bit at lunch and a little bit at night. [00:38:21] It also might break up the monotony of being at home all day all the time. You might get your family involved and say, I’m going to do these two sessions on my own, and then the evening one is going to be, you know, all about bringing the kids with you and getting them involved in and maybe giving one of the parents some alone time or something like that.

[00:38:38] So there’s a lot of fun ways that you can continue to design your tray overall training. Stay close to the total number of hours per week that you’re used to doing and you know, isn’t going to be overly stressful if you are making increases, make them on a calculated increase over time and that you allow for a recovery week. [00:38:58] somewhere in there, whether you’re someone who recovers once every 10 days or on a four day, four day cycle, one day rest, or you know, if you’re someone who does the traditional three weeks on one week lighter, but allow for some kind of the load at some point within your training cycles. I think that that’s important right now.

[00:39:16] So, you know, there’s a lot of different ways that you can take your overall programming. It depends how you’re programming right now. If you work with a coach and then, and move it around so that you can increase your immune system, keep it a little bit lighter and fresher at this time, and see you on your best foot forward. [00:39:33] When all this lightens up and you’re like, okay, well now I’ve got 8-12 weeks to get ready for a race. And I’m in a good position to put in a good training race block and I’m going to show up at the races and pre, you know, pretty good. 

And I will say, you know, all the swim cords and stuff, some people are asking, is it even worth doing? [00:39:50] You know, when we get back in the water, is this going to translate at all? I will tell you, I’ve had. A good handful of athletes that have, we’ve done the swim cords, routines and the strength routines, and they have now gotten back into the water and they’re actually noticing that, you know, once they get their feel back for the water and get a little bit, get past that sort of initial hump of [00:40:10] swim conditioning because we remember we’re fit from biking and running, and then they’re noticing, Hey, I actually, not only did I not really lose that much, but I’m actually seeing some gains because we focused on some things that I might’ve not have focused on without this time period. So, you know, some technical corrections just based on doing cords in front of a mirror. [00:40:32] I’m seeing some, you know, real strength improvements, especially for some of the women who are strength limited normally and wouldn’t have time to do this stuff. So it really is, we’re sticking to doing some of this stuff through the time period. 

Cortney: Stephanie, is there anything you want to add in terms of how we should be changing our recovery routine?

Stephanie: [00:40:54] Yeah, I would definitely, I mean, we, again, we’ve touched on these points, but just to reiterate, you know. Hydrate, you know, make sure that you are fitting water into your daily routine. you know, and continuing to, to keep your, you know, even if you are eating more sweets or baking and cooking more at home, just to make sure, that you’re not over [00:41:15] indulging, overdoing it. and once you get back, you know, into that, that level of training, you know, a lot of people may be pulling back from that high intensity training right now. And if you are, you know, once you get back into a training program. Can we kind of normalize again and you start seeing your providers and everything makes sure that you’re letting your providers know, you know, where you are in your training cycle and, and you know what you’ve been doing since you have been at home [00:41:42]just so that they can kind of, they can adjust their treatment for you as well. and then also it’s a great time too, to assess your sports needs for the future. So like, if you need new running shoes, if you need to get a bike fit done. cause there are, you know, whether it’s a bike shop or a mobile service, or even, you know, getting new safety assessors if you need new gloves, helmet, things like that. [00:42:04] So just considering what you’re going to need. For those future months. and planning that out and ordering those things now, just so you’re ready to go once you can get back out there. and then also just again, listen to your body, rest and, you know, recover when you need to because we have a completely different stress going on right now that we’ve never dealt with as a society in this, in our generation. [00:42:28] and so it’s. It’s something that we may just need to rest more, to be able to let our body recover from that and stay healthy. So just listen to your body’s needs and if you need any advice, you know, a lot of healthcare providers are doing tele-health. or like I said with me, people can text me. [00:42:45] My clients have been texting me every week, letting me know how they’re doing. If they, you know, need any suggestions on, on things or correcting this or that. So, utilize us from these different platforms.

Cortney [00:42:59]I feel like during this discussion tonight, we’ve talked, not just about immune health, but just health in general and kind of learning how to be a healthy athlete. So thank you, all of you, for contributing to this discussion cause I think there’s so many, so much good information here. I just want to ask a wrap up, question from all of you because we have talked about a lot of different angles of immune health. [00:43:27]if there’s one thing that we should be considering as athletes in our nutrition, in our training and in our recovery, just one thing. How can you summarize it for us? So we’ll start with nutrition. Sarah. how would you summarize? 

Sarah: I would say eat the colors of the rainbow. Eat your colors. [00:43:49]every, every meal has some form of color, whether it’s from a fruit or a veggie or something, or even an avocado or whatnot. So therefore, you’re just guaranteeing, cause each color provides different vitamins, phytonutrients, chemical, phyto chemicals, and all that jazz. So it’s like. every color kind of optimizes certain areas of our health. [00:44:10] And so if you eat all the colors throughout the week and it’s not, it’s not necessarily on a day to day, it’s more on a weekly basis, then therefore you can know that you’re getting in an ideal nutrition that you can get. 

Cortney: Great. Thank you. Eat your colors. How about our training, Marilyn? How would you wrap it up?

Marilyn [00:44:30] If I can, for the people who are struggling with motivation, and if I can say, you know. We’ve been at this a little while now and if some people are struggling with a little bit of motivation and mental health through this period of time, and I was really happy to see the poll where, nobody has stopped [00:44:47] I, that would be my one takeaway is form some kind of routine to just keep going. This time period it was going to lift. It is we are going to get our normal. Life back and our normal racist back. And, and even just keep reassessing your goals and, and keep going. Because when you do come out of this, you don’t want to have to take another six months or a year just to get back to the place where maybe you left off or you feel good about where you’re at. [00:45:14] So fight all those inner demons of saying, Hey, you know, why bother? I’m feeling a little down. Maybe you’re getting a little bit sluggish, those kinds of things. And keep tapping into reassessing your goals and just keep at it. You know, this, this, this will pass. And, and, you know, it’s important to stay in routine and be able to come out of this feeling pretty strong.

Cortney [00:45:37] That’s great. Thank you. And Stephanie, how would you, tell us about recovery and just kind of one quick wrap up. 

Stephanie: Yeah. Listen to your body. So rest, hydrate, practice, self care, contact a provider if you have any questions, during this time. And then, you know, once we normalize again, just consider adding body work as part of your holistic program for recovery, treatment and maintenance.

Cortney: [00:46:03] Great. we have a few minutes for questions. Does anybody have questions? You can type them into the chat or into the Q&A. I actually have one. I’m asking for a friend. Just curious. what is the effect, I guess, Sarah, this is probably a question for you, but what is the effect of alcohol on our immune system?

Sarah: [00:46:32] Great question. So, technically alcohol, well, on our immune system or just in our overall health and [00:46:43] to our immune system, cause that was the topic tonight, right? So, alcohol and our immune system can actually lower it slightly. In fact, you know, posts, I know a lot of like post race people are like, Oh, let’s have a beer and actually beer Isn’t the best thing to have post race at all. just because it can actually inhibit your recovery. [00:47:03]cause your, I know it does have carbs, I get that, but it’s not, it’s different types of like we want to have the carbs and the protein and so the beer doesn’t really optimize your post recovery performance. It actually can reduce it. and then your body doesn’t soak up as much. Cause technically alcohol is a toxin. [00:47:21] And the liver, it works over time to actually. Fight the toxin off. so for example, like, if we eat food that has fat in it, which most food does, the liver processes the fat, and then, if we’re drinking, we’ll technically, alcohol is a toxin. So the body’s like, Oh, we got to fight that first. [00:47:39] So then it lets the fat hangout on the outside of it, and it processes the alcohol first to get rid of it. And then that’s how people can get like the beer belly or that beer gut. And so when your body’s kind of fighting. The toxin, it’s not really able to, adequately process the normal routine. So therefore our immune system can go down. [00:47:58] And then also, too, if people over-drink, I mean, you know, the hangover factor, you know, feeling sick, actually throwing up, you know. So we put a lot of wear and tear on our system. And of course, when we’re. If, if you’re actually throwing up or getting really hung over, then obviously your immune system is going to be down too.

[00:48:17] Cortney: Yeah. So my friend might be drinking a little more than usual, but not to the point where like, there’s hangovers and that sort of thing. but is that still, I mean, I assume there’s still some sort of tax on the immune system, but because people in general are drinking more, even if they’re not getting drunk, there’s still an effect on the immune system it sounds like.

[00:48:37] Sarah: Right. And you know, so the American heart association has the guidelines where it’s two drinks a day for men. And one drink a day for women. But then again, the like the drink is four ounces of wine, you know, 12 ounces of beer, 1.5 ounces of hard liquor. So it was like, most people, I don’t know, I don’t know many people that actually do only 1.5 ounces of hard liquor and you know, in one drink.

[00:48:58] But I mean, those are the standards for the heart health. So that’s from the American heart association. However, you know, it kind of depends on you as an individual. Like. you know, everyone has a different tolerance level and so it can affect people differently. so it really kind of depends. Like that’s just an average blanket statement kind of idea.

[00:49:16] But if I, I would say that it really just depends. Like if you are accustomed to having one drink a day as a female, then fine, go for it. You know? in that sense it won’t hurt you, you know, per se. But if you’re someone that doesn’t drink that often and now you’re, you’re increasing it, then it might just, it just might change. You know your regular system a little bit. 

[00:49:40] Cortney: Thank you so much, Marilyn, Sarah and Steph for being here tonight and for this discussion. Here is the contact information for Stephanie, Sarah and Marilyn. Also, GritLink does have a Patreon community where you can support us at  We don’t charge anything for these webinars and this information. and you can support us for as little as $5 a month. Thank you all for being here. Have a great night. Have a great day. 

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