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.


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


Blisters (not!)

Even after my 87 km race my toes are healthy, blister-free, and there is no sign of black toe nails.

Maybe I am lucky to have hardy feet, or lucky to be picking the right shoes and socks but I have never had trouble with blisters, chafing on my feet or black toe nails.


What am I doing right? I am not sure but here’s some things I am doing to make sure those feet problems don’t crop up.

Many of my socks have 2 layers. One slides with the shoe and one with the foot. The only sliding action is between the two layers of the sock. These are available at running stores and probably cost more than other socks but they seem to work well. Blisters be gone!

I tie the toe end of my shoe laces quite tight to prevent my feet from slipping around. This is especially critical on the steep downhills. The tightness you get them out of the store is never enough, I find. Experiment, but definitely if there is any downhill, tighten ’em up.

I keep my toe nails short. One of my rituals before a race is to cut them. I have learned the hard way that nails that are too long can hurt when they bounce up against the front of your shoe and if they do that too long they might go black and fall off (only happened once – 30 years ago).

Be barefoot or in sandals as much as possible. I don’t know if this does anything, but I know that being barefoot toughens up your feet to prevent them from going soft. And sandals keep your feet dry. Being in Canada, barefoot season doesn’t last long, but it is worth a shot for as long as possible.

Remember those two feet are all you got, and if they start screaming, it is pretty hard to ignore. Baby those 10 little piggies.

Recovery is key

Recovering from a big weekend of being on my feet (and eating horribly)

Wednesday – Stuffed race packages in the evening for the local St. Patrick’s Day Race (pizza)

Thursday – Handed out race packages (mac and cheese)

Friday – Handed out race packages (mac and cheese)


  • pi day! 3.14.15. 9:26:53 We ate pie at a geocaching event
  • 2.5 hour run
  • chinese dinner out for my wife’s birthday


  • Volunteered at St. Patty’s Day Race – 6am-12pm
  • Cheered on my girls to amazing 10km finishes!
  • 2:45 hour run
  • Collapsed on couch
  • Mac and cheese


  • Recover until next weekend


St Pat Photobooth 2015-NZ-5752 (1)

Looks like my nutrition needs some improvement!

Reading Too Much Is As Dangerous As Never Reading

Taken from Running is Funny as a parody of the hotly disputed study that claims that too much running is as bad as watching TV all day.

A new study shows that reading too much can be just as unhealthy as not reading at all.

Americans as a whole don’t read enough—at least that’s what the latest studies show—and so the message is clear: get more books, pick up a magazine, Let’s Read! Basically anything is better than sitting on the couch, watching TV. But how much reading is enough? That’s a hotly debated question for which experts still don’t have a satisfactory answer. But given that most of us are starting from a sedentary position, the assumption has long been the more the better.

But in a report published Monday in the Journal of the American College of Conclusion Jumping researchers from Denmark say that people who push their brains too hard may essentially undo the benefit of reading. Those who read more than four hours a week for more than three days a week had about the same risk of ignorance during the study’s 12-year follow up as those who hardly read at all. The link held even after the researchers accounted for potentially confounding factors such as age, sex, whether the participants had a history of lunkheadedness, or whether they smoked and drank alcohol.

Marott acknowledges that it’s also possible that some other behaviors or factors common to avid readers, such as their exposure to differing viewpoints, which can increase their risk of understanding, might be explaining their higher risk of headaches during the study. Other studies will have to investigate whether that’s the case, but in the meantime, Marott says “if you want to do something good for yourself, you don’t have to be extreme. Reading one to four hours a week for no more than three days a week at a slow to moderate pace is actually achievable. And that’s a positive take-home message.”

Read the rest of the parody here

Beginning Steps

I am the last person you should follow as an example when it comes to nutrition and diet. So I suggest you read other people’s blogs about nutrition. Here’s a good post.

50 things I’ve learned during my 50-day running streak (Re-post)

fiftyI recently read about someone doing a 50 day running streak and posting 50 things they learned. Great list! Number 1 and 3 & 4 are especially true for me. Here’s the start. Link to the rest is below.

50 things I’ve learned during my 50-day running streak

by Matt Frazier

1. I finally understand those “Running is Cheaper than Therapy” t-shirts. The difference in my mood before and after my run is so noticeable that my wife has several times suggested (on certain, grumpy mornings) that I make today an early run day. And rightly so.

2. You can dramatically lower your breath rate (and as a result, your heart rate) if you learn to breathe through your nose and focus on taking more steps per breath.

3. If you don’t have the same trigger for your run every day (waking up, lunchtime, etc.), it’s easy to forget, and find yourself running at dusk to keep the streak going.

4. On that note, running hills right after dinner is a terrible idea.

5. You can go from zero motivation to full-on, can’t-think-about-anything-else mode in only two weeks or so. The key, for me, was inspiring reading and using the tools of habit change to get started.

6. The 10% rule really doesn’t matter much.

7. Hiking up hills can be a much better exercise than struggling to run up them, especially if you’re training for a trail race where you’ll have to hike.

49. A daily run is the perfect trigger for a quick set of pushups, situps, pullups, or whatever you choose. These things are so easy to do, and so easy not to do. Running every day has helped me to remember to do them.

50. This has been way too good, for both my body and mind, to stop at 50 days. I guess it’s 100 or bust!

41 more at this link: http://www.nomeatathlete.com/50-lessons-running-streak

Thanks Matt for these insights!


How Far Can 791 Oranges Get You?

791 oranges can get you all the way across Canada apparently, according to an article in Canadian Running magazine. At 17, in 1974, Mark Kent took time off school to run the 6500 km across Canada on kool-aid, 791 oranges, and tons of steak (and vitamins just to balance his diet a little).




Hmm, maybe I don’t need all those gels and gatorade.

Canadian Running: http://runningmagazine.ca/novemberdecember-2014/

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