Should You Run If You’re Sick? When is sick too sick?

Running is addictive, and there’s nothing worse than being sidelined because of injury or sickness. But if you have a triathlon, marathon, or any type of race shortly, you might want to keep running.

Is it snowing outside? You’ll probably still run. Broken headphones? You’ll probably get through it. What about freezing weather? Just wear a few extra layers!

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However, if you’re wondering whether you should keep running through sickness, there are a few questions you should ask yourself. Running through sickness can be massively detrimental to your training regime and body, so when is it ok to run?

Should you run if you’re sick?

If you have minor congested cold symptoms, such as chest congestion, a runny nose, or a minor dry cough, you’re probably okay to run. Many doctors argue that light exercise can help ease congestion and make you feel slightly better.

However, if you have a temperature and fever, you should avoid running because it will stress your immune system and make you feel considerably worse.

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What are common signs that tell you not to run (when sick)

If you’re feeling some minor cold symptoms, you shouldn’t have any issues with running. However, many doctors and running experts suggest following the “neck rule,” which means any symptoms below the neck, such as vomiting, swollen glands, body aches, and body chills, you should stop running and rest.

If you’re suffering from any below-the-neck symptoms, you will benefit from taking up to a week off running, depending on how severe the symptoms are. you’re body could need a good recovery week (just like after a half marathon).

Is it ok to run when you have a cold?

Generally speaking, if you have minor cold symptoms, such as a runny nose, a slight headache, and a little cough, you should be okay to run. However, if you’re feeling weak below the neck, such as chills, aches, and body fever, you should stop and rest.

When you have an upcoming race, you should keep running as much as possible. However, if the cold makes your body feel weak, you’ll hinder your preparation if you try to run through it.

Does running make your cold worse?

It depends on the intensity of your running. If you complete a zone 2 run (60%-70% of MHR), your cold shouldn’t get worse. Furthermore, according to Dr. Durst, you may even relieve some symptoms and clear congestion if you run through a head cold.

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If you’re feeling dehydrated due to fever, your congestion could worsen if you continue running.

Is it ok to run if you’re coughing?

It entirely depends on the type of cough. If you’re suffering from a dry cough – a cough that doesn’t produce phlegm or mucus – you should be fine to go running.

On the other hand, a cough that produces phlegm and mucus (commonly referred to as a productive cough) means you should rest and recover. At the very most, you should consider a relaxed zone one run.

After being sick, how long until I can run again?

Once you start to feel a decrease in temperature and a fever reduction, you should consider running again. Of course, that depends on how fast you recover, but you can speed up your recovery by resting and drinking lots of water.

If the cough lasts up between three to four weeks, it’s known as an acute cough. Moreover, if the cough lasts for more than eight weeks, medical professionals call it a chronic cough. Many runners will continue to run through acute and chronic coughs, but it might increase recovery time.

What are the drawbacks of running when you’re sick?

The biggest drawback of running when you’re sick is the lack of performance. You’ll quickly see that your running times are considerably down, which can impact your morale. You will also stress your immune system and lengthen your recovery time if you run through sickness.

Furthermore, it’s tough to increase your fitness levels when you’re running while you’re sick. So it would help if you looked to maintain your fitness at the very best.

When is it life-threatening to run if sick?

If you decide to run through a common cold, it’s unlikely to be life-threatening. That said, if you choose to run through fever and a very high temperature, you never know how your body is going to react to running.

If you choose to run a marathon with a temperature of over 100.4 degrees, you’re certainly putting your body in a very challenging place.

If I have a fever is it ok to go for a run?

A high-temperature fever should be a red flag when deciding whether to run or not. Rest and Hydration will be more beneficial to your body rather than heating it up anymore which could cause serious injury. The benefits of relaxing and overcoming the fever far outweigh the benefits of running through fever.

Some runners might concern themselves over losing fitness before a big race if they don’t train. However, if you decide to run through fever, you’re just going to hurt your immune system, overtrain, and probably lose fitness anyway.

Can you get sick from running in the rain? What types of workouts are ok if I’m sick?

It’s a widespread belief that running in the rain can make you sick, and it’s not a true belief. The only way you’re going to catch a cold virus is by contracting the cold virus, not from running through torrential downpours. If you’re sick, you should focus on light workouts that don’t elevate your heart rate.

Perhaps stick to some basic stretching, zone 1 runs, and low heart rate cycling. Alternatively, it would help if you focused on doing short walks around your neighborhood. The best way to beat a cold virus is by resting and allowing your immune system to beat the virus.

Will I lose any level of fitness if I don’t run for a week while sick?

The short answer is no. According to a recent study, If you are a well-trained athlete your body will lose almost no VO2 Max cardiovascular fitness if you don’t run for 10 days (recent study). Take the time off you need to get well. Even your sickness continues for up to 2 weeks, you’ll only lose about 6% of your cardiovascular fitness. You can easily gain this back within the following weeks after you have gotten better.

Final Thoughts

Telling runners to stop running is almost always an impossible task. Unfortunately, when your feeling symptoms below your neck, you’ll see more physical benefits from resting than running.

On the other hand, minor above-the-neck cold symptoms allow you to run, but you should gauge your body and take it easy until you’re back to feeling almost 100%.

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