Thank God for zinc in fighting the common cold

Spring and summer are some of the worst times to get a cold because it interrupts your serious training.

Spring and summer are some of the worst times to get a cold because it interrupts your serious training.

By Christopher Cudworth

I don’t get paid for product endorsements, so what you are about to read is a simple personal testimonial for a type of product that truly works in easing the risk and length of the common cold.

Hard won experience

For years as a distance runner putting in gobs of mileage and racing almost weekly in peak years, the risk of coming down with a common cold was ever present. All it takes to go over the edge is an extra workout done a little too hard, or a lost night of sleep. When you are racing sharp, you live on the razor’s edge of getting sick.

Through a series of really bad colds in my racing years it became clear when a cold was coming on. Your heartbeat would increase and stay high. A nagging thirst and somewhat feverish feeling would kick in. A craving for sweets–which is the last thing you should eat when getting a cold–would come on. Restlnessness. Achiness. And worst of all, a mildly sore throat were all indicators that a common cold was going to take you down.

Such hard-won experience is valuable as you learn to take care of yourself as an athlete. And in the years since those 100 mile weeks there have been different reasons to get sick from colds, but the maxim that prevention beats the cure holds true.

That is why I thank God for zinc.

Avoidance at all costs…

Having such deep experience with bad colds is strong motivation to avoid them at any cost. I now know much better how to read the warning signs. When that tingle in your sinuses kicks in, or your throat feels a little raspy, or any of the other creepy symptoms of the common cold show up, I reach for the zinc.

Cold-Eeze is one of the most popular forms of cold prevention medicines. You can buy it over the counter and it works. The lozenges don’t taste too badly but they do sort of numb up your tongue and mouth a bit, as if a very mild form of novocaine spray were used. I don’t recommend milk, orange juice or frankly eating or drinking anything right after you’ve used the lozenges. They give everything a metallic taste.

My brother-in-law swears by a Cold Eeze spray he uses. But this isn’t necessarily a product endorsement so much as an encouragement to try zinc tablets in any form you can find them. A pharmacist can direct you to the zinc and cold prevention medicines at the drug store. They don’t cost much and they are easy to use.

Far better to fight colds before they come on than needing to invest in management of the symptoms. Once you get a cold it’s an almost guaranteed period of suffering from 5 t0 15 days and even longer. That’s a serious chunk of reduced training time, especially if you’re in the buildup to a marathon or half marathon. The irony of training is that the harder you push yourself, the more you are at risk of a common cold or flu.

Marty Liquori knows best

That’s why it’s important to pay attention to the day-after-the-day lag rule, a training principle outlined in Marti Liquori’s guide for the elite distance runner. It works like this: If you do a hard workout on a Monday you must recover both the following day and the day after. It takes about 48 hours for the fatigue to wear off. Often you’ll feel fabulous from speed training and want to hit it hard a couple days later, but that is a dumb idea in most cases if you’re training with sufficient intensity.

Snot funny

Once you’ve got a cold it means sneezing, coughing, runny nose, achiness, chest congestion and finally hacking up that green phlegm that can be an embarrassing social phenomenon. In fact I once saw a distance runner stop in mid-stride, cough and spit out something purple that splattered on the ground. “Oh my God!” he yelled, “That came out of me?!” It sure did. Common colds are the tarsnakes of endurance training. You never know what’s going to come up on the road ahead.

Runs on the run

COBRA is the tarsnake of health insurance coverage. You pay more because you're not working for a corporation.

Common colds are the tarsnakes of endurance training. The harder you train the greater the risk of getting sick.

The human body is quite creative in its battle with unwanted germs. You don’t think of diarrhea as a symptom of the common cold but that’s a pretty common problem when a cold is coming on. Your body ramps up its anti-bodies and your gut is hard-wired to physical and chemical stress. If you have a bout of the runs, it’s best to back off your runs. Lest you have the wonderful experience of combining the two. Which I have shared in previous posts.

Prostate problems

It also turns out that my constitution cannot handle many common cold medicines. Essentially I’m hyper-sensitive to antihistamines and substances such as caffeine. They make my prostate swell up, a fact learned 25 years ago during a visit to the doctor that involve a well-placed finger up my rectum. “You’re boggy,” the doctor told me. “Prostate’s swollen. Why don’t you try quitting caffeine. Some people are sensitive to it.”

Best advice I ever got. No more caffeine for me. The doctor also told me that many women get yeast infections from ingesting caffeine. It stimulates the membrane tissues of your body and can put those delicate interphases out of balance. So gals, pay attention too…


Cold medicines with antihistamines can  produce the same effect. Hemorrhoid medicines too. Some of these supposed cures are worse than the condition if elements in their composition affect you badly.

But zinc does no harm, that I’ve ever seen. It does a body good exactly when you need it. Because a cold prevented is one of the best feelings in the world.


About Christopher Cudworth

Christopher Cudworth is a content producer, writer and blogger with more than 25 years’ experience in B2B and B2C marketing, journalism, public relations and social media. Connect with Christopher on Twitter: @genesisfix07 and blogs at, and Online portfolio:
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.