As race day approaches, the last thing any runner wants is to be sidelined by illness. Whether you’re gearing up for a marathon, ultra, or any other big race, staying healthy is paramount to achieving your goals. Here are some practical tips to help you avoid the flu and other common ailments before your next race:

  1. Prioritize Hygiene: Keeping your hands clean is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. Be sure to wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially after using the restroom, before eating, and after being in public places. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content.
  1. Boost Your Immune System: A strong immune system is your body’s first line of defense against infections. Support your immune health by eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Incorporate immune-boosting foods like citrus fruits, berries, garlic, ginger, and yogurt into your meals. Additionally, prioritize adequate sleep to allow your body to rest and repair itself.
  1. Consider Vitamin Supplements: In addition to a healthy diet, certain vitamins and supplements may help bolster your immune system. Vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, and probiotics are commonly recommended for immune support. Consult with a healthcare professional to determine if supplementation is right for you and to ensure proper dosage.
  1. Practice Social Distancing: During flu season or when illnesses are circulating, it’s wise to limit close contact with sick individuals whenever possible. Avoid crowded places where germs may spread easily, and politely decline handshakes or hugs if you suspect someone may be ill. If you’re feeling under the weather yourself, consider staying home to rest and recover rather than risking further exposure.
  1. Stay Dry and Warm: After a sweaty workout, change out of damp clothing as soon as possible to prevent chilling the body. Prolonged exposure to wet or cold conditions can stress the immune system and make you more susceptible to illness. Opt for moisture-wicking fabrics that help regulate body temperature and layer up to stay warm during cooler weather runs.
  1. Stay Informed: Stay updated on flu activity in your area and be aware of any outbreaks or spikes in illness. Follow guidelines from reputable health organizations and heed any advisories or recommendations regarding preventive measures. Being informed allows you to make proactive choices to protect yourself and others.

By incorporating these strategies into your routine, you can minimize the risk of falling ill before your big race and maximize your chances of crossing the finish line healthy and strong. Remember, prevention is key, so take proactive steps to safeguard your health and well-being as you prepare for your upcoming running challenge.


With a passion for high performance sport – Lindsey Parry is one of South Africa’s most widely recognised coaches. Having led a team to the London, Rio and Tokyo Olympic Games as well as the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, the Gold Coast & Birmingham, and coached both triathletes and runners onto podiums of some of the world’s most illustrious races, Lindsey has a unique ability to understand what it takes to succeed at any level and thrives on coaching, motivating and inspiring others to do the same – whether it’s on the track, on stage or behind a mic.

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