running when sick

Running when sick: how to know if I can go out

The flu has officially arrived in my home (which is not so surprising with a baby daughter bringing all sorts of viruses home from day care). When it comes to running I don’t really bother about having a bit of a runny nose. Usually I can just continue training. As a matter of fact I ran a marathon PR having a runny nose. But when is the time to put your runningshoes down? I scrolled the interwebs and this is what I found.

Yes you can! If…

Unfortunately there is no straight answer as to whether you should/could go out running when ill. A rule of thumb mentioned on several websites (here and also here) is: ‘if its above the neck you are usually good to go’. So a little cough or a runny nose shouldn’t stop you from your daily run.

However, there seems to be general agreement that you shouldn’t be doing tough workouts like hill repeats, interval sessions, tempo runs. These workouts are impactful on your body and usually demand some recovery. If you are already feeling under the weather, workouts like these won’t do you any good.

Going out for an easy run is perfectly fine though! As a matter of fact you could be going out with a runny nose (hehe) and come back home all cleaned up again, according to this source. As far as anecdotal evidence counts: I started my marathon last october with a runny nose, by the time I was 5km in, it was all gone and it didn’t bother me for the rest of the race. I ran a big PR. On the flip side: it did come back double the days after (but who cares! Not me. I had my PR).

No you can’t! If…

If you have a fever or you feel real weak you shouldn’t go out running. not only will you feel terrible during that run, it will be detrimental to your recovery too. It is good to understand that ‘having a fever’ is not the cause, it is the symptom. It is a warning signal that you should hold back a little. As with injury prevention it is good to listen to what your body is telling you. So a fever is a strong no.

The same counts for stomach issues, sour muscles all over your body (these are often fever related, not exercise related), COVID and other contagious issues and serious ailments.

A couple of days rest won’t do you harm!

I know from experience that skipping a run is a hard thing to do. Not doing your runs might lead to anxiety about your performance. Especially when you are in the midst of your marathon training cycle. I always remind me of the following: your aerobic base takes a long time to build, but it also takes a bit longer to drop again. Your speed drops faster, but it is also something you can build much faster. Taking a few days off just to get back up on your feet again is no issue. You’re back in form in no time!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *