Running & illness: Not to be mixed

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We’ve all been there – waking up with the first signs of a cold, but we really wanted to go for that run. Surely some fresh air and exercise won’t hurt and Free Athletes don’t make excuses, right? Wrong. There is a big difference between excuses and reasons not to go running. And illness is one big reason to take a few rest days – no exceptions. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so to help you look after your body, here’s a breakdown of why it’s a bad idea to run if you’re not feeling 100% and when you can safely get back into training afterwards.

Be good to yourself

If your body is already fighting, don’t put it under even more stress. It doesn’t matter if it’s “just a cold”, you still shouldn’t be considering going outside and running. Even a stomach bug is a sign that your body is fighting something and will be weakened. Training is the last thing it needs at this point. Even a small cold can become something more serious if you keep running through it, and going for a run won’t help you to sweat it out.

Not only does illness mean that your body is busy fighting off an infection and therefore weaker than usual, it also means that it won’t be able to absorb as many nutrients as it normally would. If you choose to train anyway, you will risk your general health and it won’t improve your performance at all. If you already have a temperature and you begin your workout, your heart will be under even more strain to keep your temperature down, which can even result in an irregular heartbeat. Symptoms involving lungs are also at a higher risk of getting worse if you run with them. So don’t risk it.

Patience is the key

You cannot rush the healing process. Be patient, give your body time and trust that you will be able to pick up where you left off once your body is ready. Wait until you feel fit again and make sure that all of your symptoms have completely disappeared for a day before you get your running shoes back on. If you’re feeling well enough before that, you can start with some stretching and relaxation exercises until you are fit enough to slowly get back to training.

It’s important not to panic that you will start off back at the beginning if you don’t train for a few days. This isn’t the case. Your body won’t forget all the training and hard work you’ve already put in, so there shouldn’t be a noticeable change in your performance after a short break. You will only set yourself back if you continue to train through your illness.

Prevention is always the best option when it comes to illness and injury. There are lots of ways you can try to prevent becoming ill in the first place and especially eating right can help boost your immune system. And if you do become ill, don’t train for the sake of training. Listen to your body and look after it. It’s the best tool you have.