The Dreaded Sickness Season

“Neither rain, nor snow, nor sniffle, nor fever shall keep me from my training schedule.”

We’re right in the middle of flu and cold season. And contracting an illness ranks right up there with an injury, in my mind. Because anything that inhibits training is bad.

So naturally, when both my parents bit the dust with a stomach bug last week, my normal germaphobia became at least 1o times worse. No sickies in the kitchen before hand sanitizer. Better yet, don’t go in the kitchen. Don’t cough on anything (Maybe just don’t breath at all?). Does Walmart sell hazmat suits?

Sprinter

Probably shouldn’t do this with a fever…

Getting sick is such an, ugh…downer. But thankfully, sickness doesn’t necessarily correlate to mandatory rest days. Besides running’s ability to boost your immune system (when running less than 60 miles per week), running may actually help the healing process – mostly because it can aid psychological well-being.

So, here’s when it’s generally ok to stick to the training schedule:

  • No fever
  • Symptoms above your neck
  • No antibiotics

You may want to scale back mileage or intensity a little so you don’t relapse or get worse.

But if you are running a fever, have body aches other than normal muscle soreness, or have a chest cough, you should probably take a day or two of rest. It’s generally safe to resume running the day after your symptoms disappear. You can’t, unfortunately, “sweat out” a fever. In fact, you may make your conditions worse (think common cold to chest cold to pneumonia to hospitalization to nuclear war. Too drastic?) or create an injury by straining exhausted, aching muscles.

Most importantly, read your body and not your training schedule. Your overall health should come first.

If you’re wondering whether you should run today, here’s a handy flow chart to help you answer your question. Pro-tip: the right answers get you to the “go run or race” bubbles.

And, if you want more information on how running affects your immune system and the science behind running with an illness, check out this article from Runners’ World.

Courtney