Running when you are sick – is it something that you do or do you give your body time to rest and recover? Do you have certain considerations that you take into mind when you are sick that you use to decide whether to run or not?
Running When You Are Sick?
We runners, regardless of if we admit it or not would much rather run any day regardless of how ill we might be. However, is that the best way to approach training, running, and overall general health?
I will admit it… now that I am “of a certain age” that I am more than happy to skip a workout, or two, or three if I am ill. If for no other reason, because I learned the hard way, time after time, year after year, that to try to train through an illness NEVER works for me; especially when it comes to colds.
The general rule when it comes to running and colds is that if it is above the neck, go ahead and run… if below the neck, meaning the cold is in your chest do not run. That is all and well but if it is a head cold that I am dealing with, trying to run with that is a sure fire way for the cold to spread to my chest and I will be sick for at least another week.
One of my athletes has been under the weather all week so she has been ordered total rest besides bending and stretching if she feels up to it. Today her strep culture came back positive, so more rest. She has trained consistently for months… and since she has trained consistently, never missing a workout, she can afford the days off this week due to illness.
Having a runner’s mentality… she is totally stressed about missing days, however I am not. So my job as her coach now is to ensure that she continues to rest, alleviate her stress the best that I can, and assure her that once the antibiotics kick in and she feels better that all will be okay.
Running stresses the body and all of the systems within the body. Being sick… that stresses the body and all of the systems in the body as well. By trying to train, running when you are sick, all you are doing is doubling (at least doubling if not exponentially increasing) the stress load on the body thus taking away the ability for the body to heal and fight whatever infection it is dealing with.
Would you still train on an extremely sprained ankle? Probably not. You would be patient (as patient as you can be) to give it time to heal and for the body to do its thing… so why view a cold, or the flu any differently?
Therefore, as a running coach, to anyone, my advice is if you are sick, anything beyond a small case of the sniffles… rest up and get back at it when you feel better. Don’t dig yourself into a deeper hole by running when you sick – focus on getting well, and your overall health instead.
Don’t believe me… here is an awesome article on running when sick that more or less says the same thing… just more polished.
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