To Run Or Not To Run: Should You Train When You’re Sick?

Seen on my run last week. This sunset will cure what ails you.
Seen on my run last week. This sunset will cure what ails you.

My running this week has been non-existent. Weird, since I’ve been so gung ho about running lately. But, I woke up Monday not feeling so hot. Actually, I felt like I’d been hit by a bus. Not just any bus, either, but one of those massive pop-star tour busses that’s basically a luxury hotel room on wheels. I was exhausted.

I took a rest day. Then, Tuesday morning I woke up SIICK. Without going into the gory details, let’s just say running was the furthest thing from my mind.

Wednesday, I felt marginally better. I was able to drag my ass to work, but other than that, I was pretty worthless. Try explaining that to a toddler, though. Oh sorry Max, we have to lay on the couch all night because mommy’s sick. Nope, not happening. That kid ran me ragged all evening long. Needless to say, I went another day without running.

This little dude rests for no one...even his under the weather mama.
This little dude rests for no one…even his under the weather mama.

Today, I felt almost good, but a little weak. Which is when the question came up. Should I try for a run today? I wasn’t actively sick anymore, but I definitely wasn’t 100%. I wanted to run though. Three full days of no running had me going a little crazy. I needed some endorphins, dammit. So at lunch, I headed to the trails to see what I could do.

Endorphins cure the common stomach bug, right?

That was a total waste of time. I felt like crap from the first minute all the way through the last one. I slogged through 3 miles and for what? A crappy run that surely would do nothing for my fitness. In fact, it might have even done more harm than good, because right now, I’m exhausted.

So, should you run when you’re sick? Or even when you’re getting over being sick, like I was today?

In the past, I would have said HELL YES. I would run 24/7. I once had a nasty chest cold. My cough could move mountains. But, at that point in my life I wouldn’t have dreamed of taking a day off just for a little sickness. I popped a couple of cold pills and pushed on through. Let me tell you, running on Sudafed chock-full of Psuedoephedrine is quite the experience. You feel like the energizer bunny – you can keep going and going and going. ย Later, of course, you crash. It took me more than two weeks to get over that particular illness. No doubt because I was pushing my body to exert itself when it was busy fighting off pesky germs.

According to Runner’s World, the general rule for running when you’re sick is that if your symptoms are from the chest down, skip it. If they’re above the chest, you can run, just shorter and less intense than usual.

I agree with this, but I’m thinking that even when you just have a nasty sinus infection, it might be wise to take the day off. Are you really going to be negatively affected by missing ย a few runs? Are you going to lose your fitness? Or, will you make yourself even more sick, so that you’re sidelined even longer?

Definitely some things to think about. When it comes down to it, your health is far more important than a run. Treat your body right and give it rest when it is in need, so that you can come back stronger.

I don’t always follow my own advice :), but I’m trying every single day to be nicer to my body….in turn, I hope it gives me a BQ next Spring ๐Ÿ˜‰

Have you ever run when you were sick? Did it make your illness worse?


6 thoughts on “To Run Or Not To Run: Should You Train When You’re Sick?

  1. I always run (or ride) when I’m sick, unless I’m in the “my hair hurts” first day or two. My goal is never speed but to raise my body temp. Like you did, I feel gnarly during, but almost always feel much better after a nice nap. All but one or two times I felt like the run sped up my recovery from the cold/flu.

  2. I think sometimes giving your body a break will pay you back. I took a couple days off a few weeks ago and came back even more motivated to run and crank out the miles. Don’t push your body until its ready to be pushed. I hope you feel better!

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