Running While Sick

What’s Included?

  • Is it okay to run while sick?
  • What to do when resting & recovering
  • Coming back from sickness

Is it Okay to Run While Sick?

At some point, ALL runners are going to face an illness of some sort – whether it’s a cold, flu, headache, or otherwise. When you’re sick, your body needs to use its energy to protect you and heal you so you can get back to 100% – and oftentimes, running and exercise can delay that healing process. It’s unlikely that any exercise or runs completed while you’re sick are going to lead to true progress or fitness improvement – so it is often times better to prioritize rest and recovery over getting your run in.

You should stop & rest if you are experiencing:

  • Vomiting
  • Migraines
  • Fever
  • Cold
  • Coughing
  • Congestion or sinus infections
  • Strep Throat or sore throat
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness

However, it’s also important to remember that sickness and illness can come in a variety of forms & intensities – and for a number of reasons. If someone is experiencing morning sickness, that’s very different from experiencing a full-on flu. It’s important to consider all of these factors when deciding whether to run or exercise:

  • The circumstance/situation
  • How you FEEL
  • The stage/intensity

For example, if you’re towards the end of a bout with a minor cold, you may feel good enough to get out for a run – and that’s perfectly okay. If you do decide to get out for a run when you’re feeling under the weather, here are a few important reminders:

1.) Keep it short & easy
2.) Stop before you think you should
3.) Watch for worsening of symptoms & stop if this occurs
4.) Watch your heart rate (if it becomes elevated at your easy effort, it’s time to stop)
5.) Listen to your body

Resting & Recovering

While you’re recovering, it’s important to prioritize…

  • SLEEP: Make sure you’re getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep, if not more!
  • HYDRATION: Drink lots of fluids & electrolytes
  • STRESS: Keep stress at a minimum however you can by asking for help & taking time to unwind

Coming Back

How you return to running will depend upon how much time you took off & what stage of your training you may be in. Typically, you can resume to running once your symptoms are minimal or completely gone. It’s recommended to wait 24 hours after your symptoms are completely gone for most illnesses. Depending upon how much time you took off from running, you should be able to return to running by starting with a few short & easy runs & then gradually increase back to your normal mileage over the course of the next week or so. After this, you can resume where you left off in your training. If needed, you can absolutely utilize walk breaks as you ease back into your normal routine – remember, you WILL get back to where you were as long as you give yourself time to get there & keep showing up.

Amy Haas
Run with Aim, LLC
UESCA Certified Running Coach
NASM Certified Personal Trainer
NASM Certified Nutrition Coach