Running Tip of the Month: In Sickness & In Health

Happy January! A new month also means another tip from Coach Mar! Temps have dipped across the country and Mother Nature showed up in DC yesterday with a complete blanket of snow. It is officially winter. Running Sick

Winter also means coughing, sneezing, and if you haven’t heard – we are in the midst of a flu epidemic. Anyone gearing up for a spring race looks at their training plans with such glee and hope. Hope that you won’t catch what’s going around! But sometimes even the best laid plans… Plan A

January’s tip includes the questions: Should you run when you’re sick? Followed by, how do I get back on track with training following illness? *note: this does not cover injury related ailments.

I’m sick, what now?

  • For starters, always listen to your body. If you find yourself under the weather don’t fight it (read: denial). You will do yourself nor anyone else any good if you try to push through what ails you. Above all else, if it requires a doctors visit and/or medication, follow the physicians advice — ALWAYS!!!!
  • There is a general check point. If your symptoms are above the neck (sniffles, runny nose) it is generally ok to continue on with your run. Below the neck symptoms affecting the chest (such as coughing), lungs, or body aches – you’d better sit it out until it subsides. In either case it’s best to use caution and again, listen to what your body is telling you because even a minor cold can turn into something more severe if not attended to properly.
  • Hydrate!! and get plenty of rest.

How to get back on track after illness:

  • First, be kind to yourself. Often times we runners think we can just pick up where we left off which isn’t always the case (though it can be). Don’t beat yourself up about it. The body often knows what to do to heal itself, don’t override it because you’re anxious.
  • If you were out of commission for a few days to a week try a couple of short, easy runs first to see how you feel, assess, and then get back into it. Don’t try to “make up” workouts. It can lead to over-training and injury.
  • Longer bouts of illness may require you to adjust your race goals and overall training plan. If you are a part of a running group with a coach (or have a personal one) seek their guidance on adjusting your training plan. Take your runs easy the first week or two following. All of this is general advice as it’s going to be dependent on YOU and what exactly you are recovering from, where you are in your overall fitness and training cycle and finally your goals for the race.

What are your thoughts on running while sick? How have you adjusted after a prolonged period of time off?

30 thoughts on “Running Tip of the Month: In Sickness & In Health

  1. I have been suffering with a sore throat and finally was put on antibiotics. I’ve been running great, but skipped cross training to rest. I’m hoping to feel better for my long run Saturday on the hills of the Boston marathon course. I can’t let my big sister kick my butt!
    Pam recently posted…Top 10 reasons to love WDW Marathon WeekendMy Profile

  2. Being kind to yourself is so key! We’re often more generous to others than to ourselves. I’ve been thinking about the training alot as I have to cut back mileage for now due to my foot. My initial plan was to improve my speed for my 2nd half but I think I may just concentrate on finishing it healthy instead.
    Chaitali recently posted…Update on foot injuryMy Profile

    1. it really is – we’re so concerned sometimes about the end game we don’t realize we could be doing harm before we get there! that’s probably a good strategy.

  3. I’m lucky to have not gotten sick in years (knock on wood) but I have had late nights that resulted in feeling like crap in the morning. I think listening to your body is so important. My general rule is to go out for one mile and then assess whether I’ll go more. I almost always want to go more but if I’m really miserable & not enjoying it, I’ll call it a day.
    Jennifer recently posted…Pittsburgh Half Marathon Training PlanMy Profile

  4. Definitely agree about being kind to yourself! I was unfortunately not (oh, medical school) and ended up sick for the entirety of a whole rotation. I suspect that the cardiologist I was working with thought I was completely stupid, but at least his staff thought I was super sweet? ._.
    Farrah recently posted…Review: SB Bars (Giveaway!)My Profile

  5. Last February I ran a half marathon while I was the sickest I had been in years. I was comped race entry, and felt obligated to run. I ran with a travel pack of tissues in my hand and had used every single one by the 6 miles mark. It was pretty terrible, and a lesson I had to learn the hard way! Your advice is so true!
    Carson recently posted…Christmas 2014My Profile

  6. I have run through a couple of illnesses. I was sick during my marathon last year! This nasty cold popped up like the week before and it was such awesome timing. I ran anyway and it blew up into a crazy bronchitis type situation and I had an on and off cough for months so…lesson learned. I still wouldn’t have skipped the marathon though. I would have run that thing on fire.
    Salt recently posted…Wednesday in a Few Words: The little boost I needed.My Profile

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