Running With Sickness

This post is coming a day late, but not without good reason. I was planning to write about running in the cold and the snow since that seemed so fitting over the past few weeks, but without warning I was sidelined with a terrible stomach virus.

I don’t know what it was, but my youngest son had it and then my oldest son had it and of course I got it. I spent all of Thursday night getting sick and when I wasn’t getting sick I was cleaning up after my oldest son getting sick.

So without all of the gruesome details, let us talk about running while sick.

The Neck Rule.

A good rule of thumb when it comes to running while you are sick is the neck rule. Basically if the sickness is above the neck you can run without a problem. You may have to adjust pace or distance, but running can actually help a head cold most times. If the sickness is below the neck you should probably hold off on running and rest. Aches in the body or joints, bad stomach issues, high fever, these are all reasons to skip the run and stay in bed.

Listen To Your Body.

If you are just starting to get sick, or if you are finally recovering from a sickness you might be able to run, but you should listen to your body.

Listening to your body is a tricky thing. As you run and train and exercise more you will get a better read on your body. This will allow you to know what you can and can not handle. But when your body is sick it sends signals to the brain to say it needs rest. These signals are sent long before your body requires rest. So, much of the time your mind will be telling you to rest when you can still do an easy run, and depending on the situation an easy run may do your body good.

BUT…just because you can go for an easy run doesn’t mean that you should. When in doubt, skip the run and rest up.

Easing Back Into Running.

What happens when you are sick for an extended period of time? After a few days I am dying to get back to running and if I am in a training cycle I am eager to get back on track.

Ease back into it. Your first run back should be done extra easy to see how the body responds. You may find out that you can get right back into it as if you never had the gap in your running, but other times you may realize that it will take a little more recovery.

Once you do a few easy runs and your body fully recovers you can usually get right back to where you left off. That is what I am doing now. I missed four days of running and today I went out for an easy 5 miles. I can tell I am not 100% yet, but my return to running my regular volume and intensity will take place rather quickly.

Being sick can be a pain in the ass and can really bum you out if you miss a lot of running. But don’t take it too hard. We all get sick. Sometimes it is bad, sometimes it is not. As long as you are sticking to your workouts when you are healthy and working to improve your body, the sickness will only be a small roadblock in your journey to improving yourself.


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