Training When Sick

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Do you still train when you feel a cold coming on or when you are mildly sick? How do you know when to call it quits?

Abby Harris

Asheville, North Carolina
Sometimes, but it depends. If I do train, I’ll slow down or decrease the intensity of a workout just because I know that my body is already having to expend extra energy to help fight whatever illness is coming on. If I’ve got a head cold coming on, sometimes running feels nice to relieve some of the pressure in my head and by that I mean some snot rockets during. Gross, but it helps!

Amanda Roe

Moundsville, West Virginia
I do, because I strongly believe in nature’s ability to lend itself to our healing. The fresh air, movement, and time for contemplation is absolutely part of my wellness plan. I wrote an article earlier this year for TS about aromatic chemical compounds given off by evergreens that stimulates Natural Killer cell (bacteria and virus fighters) production. This is only one example of a broader scope of medical knowledge supporting nature’s role in human well-being. Watch for it. This field is exploding right now. On a personal note, unless I am running a true-blue fever, I will typically continue train with some adaptation of the plan. Learn your body’s signs, probe deeper if it’s telling you to stop. Learn the messaging. “I can’t do this” is a different thought than “I feel endangered by continuing”. Same as trying to figure out a DNF. If I am truly sick, I head for the sauna. I find it really helps move things along, and my muscles are especially grateful for any time I spend in there.

Deserae Clarke

Danville, Pennsylvania
I find that a run can help clear your head and actually make you feel better. That being said, I might back off training slightly as pushing too hard can wear you out and make you more likely to get a full-blown cold. Also, I make sure to plan in time for extra sleep, as I found that is one of the best ways to fend off impending illness. I make sure as soon as I feel something coming on I take an immune-boosting supplement like black elderberry extract, activated silver, or airborne. Remember though, you know your body better than anyone, listen to it and if you feel burnt out from fighting off the cold a day of rest will be much less detrimental to your training than a week (or weeks) long cold.

Krissy Moehl

Bow, Washington
My rule is a check at the neck. If the cold is above my neck I’ll still run. Not at normal intensity, but I often find a run helps me blow out that icky stuff and I feel better after. Key thing is to be sure to get warm and dry again asap after the run. Don’t go run errands and let your body get cold. Give your body and immune system all the care you can to get healthy faster. If the cold or bug is in my throat or in my body (aches, chills) then I usually chill out. I don’t really have the energy anyway. Hydrate, stay warm, work on core for something to do.

Katie Grossman

Wrightwood, California
Train – no. Still run – maybe. Depending on the severity of the sickness, I may choose running or I may choose extra sleep. If it’s full-on fever or body aches, you’ll find me in bed. But if it’s just stuffiness and mainly in the head, I actually find that running in the morning will often loosen everything up and help me have a better day. I usually don’t hold myself to any scheduled workouts, however, and just focus on getting out there and moving. And I always make sure I give myself enough time to recover properly afterwards with healthy foods, juice and a warm shower before heading to work.

Tara Warren

Ogden, Utah
Well, I’ve got a juicy cold right now, ironically enough. Yes, I still train. My heart rate will elevate quite a bit when my body is fighting off a cold or virus. I take my speed down a bit and focus more on form or really just getting the run done. If I have the option to climb, I take advantage and just work on my hiking and watch my HR monitor as I’m pushing my pace. Also, I make sure and drink much more fluids when I’m not feeling well, that includes extra La Croix.

Katelynn Wagner

Newland, North Carolina
I usually try to base whether I run during a cold on how crummy I feel. There are some colds that knock me on my rump from day one and others that running through the first couple days seems to move them right along. Most of the time, I end up running through them. Not all colds are created equal, and you can usually tell when its a big one coming on. Listening to your body is one of the most (if not the most) important parts of training. And only you can decide whether or not your cold is bad enough to warrant staying off the trails.

Lisa Perky

Bryan, Texas
Yes. My MawMaw (that’s Texan for “Grandmother”) used to tell her six kids that working out cured a cold. She’d send them off for swim practice, or tennis, or basketball, or whatever, insisting that it would help shorten the illness. Probably, she just wanted to not be surrounded by six kids, but it’s a rule I’ve stuck by, and it’s served me well. Sometimes, a good run will help me breathe more easily. I also believe that running on day 0-1 of your period makes it more bearable for the remaining days. That being said, don’t run when you’re ACTUALLY sick… which I refuse to ever get… because, I’m stubborn.

Morgan Sjogren

Free Range, USA
No. I’d rather get over the illness faster. Besides when you feel crappy running isn’t too fun. Sometimes I’ll go for a walk or light jogs but wait until my energy levels feel more normal.

Maria Dalzot

Bellingham, Washington
A cold – yes; flu-like symptoms (aches, pains, fever) – no way.

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Trail Sisters

Trail Sisters

Trail Sisters contributors are a group of inspirational, educational and empowering Women who share a love for the outdoors and trail running. We come from all over and share a bond through our love of the sport.

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