When is Too Sick to Run?

Flu season is awful. And we are in the middle of it, at least in our part of the world. If you’ve stayed healthy this far into the winter, there’s a pretty good chance you are not going to make it much further before hitting the meds and taking a few days off.

What do we do when we are trying to get all our training sessions in but sickness is threatening to derail the training. We are all worried about lost training days, especially the closer it gets to the event. And this time of year there are so many people ramping up their training for spring races.

Around here, the weather has been unseasonably warm for several weeks now, and the sun is inviting me to get outside as much as possible. But two days ago I woke up with a low grade fever and sniffles. It slowly got worse and today I am taking the day off work. I haven’t run in several days, even though my legs are aching to get out there. And my training has had a rotten start to the year so far. So I need to hurry up and get on with the regimented training. The pressure is on.

How do you decide whether to run or not?

Everyone has their own line in the sand when to cancel that run. The answer is not a simple one and can often be influenced by how critical a particular training run is to our running goals.

Here’s the rules of thumb that I try to stick with for myself, but aren’t necessarily true for anyone else.

Don’t Go – Throwing up, fever, coughing, dizzy. Take meds, go to the doctor, stay in bed. No brainer!

Go Anyway: Technically sick but…  “Just” the sniffles, foggy brain, low energy, “just” feeling rotten. Sometimes a short run will temporarily improve things a bit.

If it is not obvious whether to go or not, my rules:

  • if the cold is neck and above, get on out there. The fresh air does most of us a lot of good.
  • If it a lung / chest cold, better stay home. Don’t be coughing up a lung on a run.
  • Any level of fever – Stay home!

Remember that a few days (or even two weeks) of not running is not going to reduce your fitness. It may eat away at you psychologically but it is far better to get better first so you can put in solid training. A return to solid training after a few days off is way better than mediocre training when you’re feeling rotten.

Get better, and train on.

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What are your criteria on when to cancel that scheduled run?

 

Author: Kevin

Just a trail runner in Calgary and beyond

9 thoughts on “When is Too Sick to Run?”

  1. My criteria, if I can get up and go, I usually do. This isn’t exactly limited to just running, but my way of life. I do need to figure out that when I have a cold I need to settle down. Still working on that one.

    Usually, when I get the flu it is the knock out version. It doesn’t include getting up for anything, much less running.

    Keep the humidity up in the house and drink lots of fluids, looking forward to hearing more about running in the Rockies.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. 100% agree. Also, to combat the psychological aspect of being sidelined, think about it mathematically. What percentage of your training for your spring race is that 1 (or more) run(s)? I also tend to stay inside and do an easy elliptical or Spinning workout if I feel too sick to run just need to feel like I’m doing “something”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The need to do “something” while sidelined is probably the hardest thing to overcome mentally. It’s tough for me to just lie in bed when I see training slipping away.

      Like

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