Due to my sore hamstring it took me two weeks after the Boston Marathon to get back to a consistent running routine. However, after a week of running I went to Italy to visit my family and in 10 days I run only twice. On the flight back home, I started not feeling well. My throat was just kind of scratchy and raw. Then a cough developed and I felt pretty congested. Last Wednesday I felt okay and decided to go for a short 4 miler to see how my body was feeling. The run was okay, I didn’t feel a 100% but I was happy to stretch my legs a little. However, I guess I should have waited few more days to get back running as I felt so sick the whole day. I had chills, I couldn’t hear from one ear and my throat was really painful when I would swallow. Dustin took really good care of me that night and I have to say that Thursday morning I was feeling much better already. On Friday I felt really good and my legs were really itching for a run again, so I decided to go out for a 11 miler. It went surprisingly well. My pace was definitely slow, but I was happy I was out there running again and releasing some energy. After the run, even though I was still coughing, I felt pretty good. It looked like I was finally starting to really get better. I took the weekend off from running as we spent it in Maine celebrating our inspirational Laura’s graduating from KVCC as a Physical Therapist Assistant.
I believe the pollen was really high there as allergy symptoms (sneezing, runny nose, itchy throat skin and cough) started to rise and didn’t leave me yet. I have to admit it’s been very frustrating for me to not feel 100%. Especially because I have a half marathon planned for this weekend and I didn’t even trained for it! I am not concerned about being able to finish it but I was really hoping for a PR. Oh well, like my wise father-in-law Tom said: ” Just enjoy it and have fun. You can’t expect to do a PR every time!”
But now, I’m sitting here wondering if running helped my body gets better or just made it worse. So, here I am again researching and this time about running while being sick, specifically with a cold and with allergy. Here is what I found:
Running with a Cold
There is a rule of thumb when it comes to running while sick called the “neck rule”. Any symptoms that are above your neck including a runny/stuffy nose or sneezing is okay to run with but anything below the neck (chest cold, bronchial infection, excessive coughing, body ache), you should not run and wait until you’re feeling completely healthy.
Most runners, me included, are worried about losing performance by taking a few days off to get over a cold or flu. However, as I’ve already said in previous posts, it takes an extended period of time without running – two to three weeks – to see a drop in your fitness. And anyway, a workout when you are sick will just set you back in your recovery. In general, you should always listen to your body. If you’re reading this and you’re sick: I hope that you feel better soon and don’t forget take care of yourself by resting, eating nutritious foods, and drink plenty of fluid.
Running with Allergies
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation Foundation of America about 40 million Americans or 1 out of every 4 Americans, have indoor/outdoor allergies as their primary allergy. Therefore, many runners have seasonal allergies that pop up in the spring and fall, which may make outdoor exercise particularly uncomfortable. Here is what you can do to help minimizing allergic reactions outdoors and enjoy your run:
- Plan workouts when pollen counts are low. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, pollen concentrations are usually highest from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. Check your local pollen counts at sites such as Pollen.com.
- Avoid running on windy days. The wind spreads pollen throughout the air, so avoid running outdoors when it’s windy. You may even want to avoid running outdoors the day after strong winds.
- Take a shower right after your run. I am sure you do that anyway=) But the worst allergy symptoms usually don’t occur until about an hour after you come in contact with the pollen, so you might be able to run outdoors without experiencing symptoms. But to help reduce the symptoms after your run, make sure you take a shower and put on clean clothes as soon as you get back from your run.
- Don’t run outside if you’re tired. When you’re tired or rundown, your immune system reacts more quickly and strongly to an allergen. So, avoiding exercising outdoors if you’re tired or jet lagged could be a good idea.
- Run after the rain. Pollen counts drop as the rain washes the pollen away, so you’re less likely to experience symptoms after it rains.
“You need to listen to your body because your body is listening to you.”~ Phillip C. McGraw
Do you run when you are sick?