Should I Run When I'm Sick? | The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans LLC


If there’s something every runner can be guaranteed at some point or another, it’s that dreaded cold.  You know, the one where you wake up one morning and feel like there’s an elephant sitting on your chest and your head feels about the size of a watermelon?  I know it isn’t just me. So, should I run when I’m sick?

Most of the time, we would just crawl back into bed or pop some cold medicine and be on our merry way.  But what do you do when you’re training for a race or you are addicted to running just want to get your run in?  When is running sick ok (or workout in general), and when should you stay home?

According to WebMD, whether you should run or not depends on your symptoms and the deciding factor often comes down to fever.  If you are already running a fever, working out and further raising your body temperature may make you sicker.  Experts say anything over 99* – don’t workout.

You can also go by the “neck rule”.  If your symptoms are above the neck, such as a stuffy nose, headache, or sore throat, it may be okay to exercise if you feel up to it.  If you don’t feel up to it – then don’t go.  One exception may be symptoms related to a sinus infection as this could quickly turn worse if you further tax your immune system.  As a frequent sufferer of sinus infections, I can pretty much guarantee I will NOT feel like running if that’s what I have.

If your symptoms are below the neck, as with chest congestion, body aches, fever, fatigue, and coughing, then you should wait until your symptoms are gone before exercising.  Yes, with the flu, this could be 10 days or more.  Just remember, your fitness will still be there when you are ready to get back in the game.  If you’ve had a fever or the flu, you should wait one to two weeks before resuming your regular training program. Do a couple easy test runs to make sure you don’t relapse.

Here are some tips for getting back into your running shoes ASAP:

  1. Drink lots of fluids
  2. Get some extra rest
  3. Netflix marathons
  4. Cool mist humidifiers help break-up congestion
  5. Vitamin C
  6. Vapor rub on the feet helps with a cough
  7. Online shopping for new running gear
  8. Tylenol or ibuprofen for headaches, aches, and pains
  9. If your symptoms persist or worsen, see your doctor

Don’t forget – the best way to deal with getting sick is to not get sick in the first place.  Wash your hands, use hand sanitizer, and wipe down machines at the gym before and after you use them.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!