Monday, January 24, 2011

EricG's Running Tips #4 I'm Sick! Is It OK To Run?

"I want to run but feel like @#$%^&*"
There are few things more frustrating to a runner than when something creeps up in life and prevents us from running.  During this time of year, the dreaded flu would seem to be one of the most common obstacles.  My brother-in-law Iman was one of the many unfortunate to have the flu during the long MLK weekend and was extremely disappointed about missing what was to be his longest run to date.  He asked me about running when sick and although I am no expert I said the following. 
The long run will be there when you are well again and the risk of getting worse or prolonging the illness is not worth it.  Take the time and rest, which may also provide the added benefit of allowing your body to recover somewhat from all the recent training.
As I am not an expert and am only accused of being sensible on occasion I decided to do a little research.  There was not as much information as I expected but the general consensus seems to be to follow the "above/below the neck rule".  Above the neck: Stuffy or runny nose, sneezing etc...probably OK. Below the neck: Muscle aches, hacking cough, fever, diarrhea, vomiting....NOT OK.  This weekend I had a bit of a cold and before reading this above/below rule I would not have run.  I decided to try it out and continued my training with 19 miles Saturday and 20 miles Sunday.  I still have a little cold but feel fine.

By the way Iman rested and completed his first run over 6 miles this weekend.  He kicks ass!

Here are a the articles I read that cover the when to's, when not to's and the risks. 

Runner's World 2004 "Should You Run When You're Sick" "Can I Run With a Cold"

Web MD "Running When Sick"



  1. Loving your weekly tips!
    Another rule of thumb is that if after a 10 min warmup you feel fine- continue running. But if you feel worse- stop, and go home.


  2. Dude, I sooo kick ass because you get me all fired up...We are going to love crossing the finish at Umstead 2011...BECAUSE WE'RE IN!

    Great worked for me :)


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