Runner's World (UK)
SHOULD I RUN WHEN I’M ILL?
I REALLY DON’T WANT TO GET BEHIND ON MY TRAINING PLAN.
→ NOT KNOWING whether you’re well enough to run or whether you’d better give it a miss is a conundrum that is all too familiar to runners. The answer depends on how unwell you are and what is wrong with you. You might have heard the saying, ‘Above the neck, what the heck. In the chest, best to rest.’ This is a good basic guide, but it does have its flaws and is far from comprehensive. With a mild, viral head cold, the likelihood is that a run won’t hurt. It may even make you feel a little better, as it can help clear nasal congestion, albeit temporarily, and it can lift your mood, too. A deep sinus infection, on the other hand, even though it’s above the neck, can leave you weak, dizzy and incapable of running. It’s best to be sensible – although that’s often easier said than done. Here are some situations in which you should definitely miss a run: You have a high temperature, shivers or aches.
You’re breathless or shaky when walking.
You feel dizzy or lightheaded.
Your resting pulse rate is higher than usual.
You aren’t properly hydrated.
You haven’t eaten a normal, full meal.
You have a chesty cough or wheeze. You feel exhausted.
When you’re unwell, your immune system is working hard to fight infection. It’s already having its own workout and doesn’t need the extra stress a run exerts. With illness, fevers or dehydration, your heart rate is often raised above normal. Elevating it further with high-intensity exercise can make you feel weak, dizzy or even push your heart into a potentially harmful abnormal rhythm. It’s usually best to rest for an extra day. The fitness gains from heading out will be negligible and it may even take you longer to get better.
Think of the bigger picture. Opt for light exercise or a rest day, instead. If you do go out when you aren’t on top form, take it easy and see how you feel. •