Running When Sick

Did I manage to drag myself out of bed this morning for a run?

Why yes I did!


I wish I could record the internal monologue I have every time my alarm goes off and I force myself to get up. Today it was along the lines of ‘alarm, run, wait am I sick? Checking… glands don’t hurt today…. throat is fine… no stuffy nose… damn I can run.’ I am happy that I feel better enough to run, but I was very aware this morning that I have been unwell and I took things a bit easier. It got me thinking about the whole listening to our bodies and being aware of how they feel, not just in the moment, but have been over the past few days. So I thought I would write a little today about running when sick.


running clothes left out the night before, silently mocking me.


First of all this article by Runners World is a really good fallback if you are ever unsure. I go by the rule they advocate of symptoms from the neck up are okay to run with, while anything neck down (chest, aches, stomach issues) you should be resting in bed). In saying that you need to focus on what is particular to you at the time, for example if you glands are swollen and hurt, it may be better to take a rest. Even though this falls into the next up category, it is a big warning sign that running will make whatever you have worse. Likewise for any changes in body temp such as a fever or shaking, you really shouldn’t be considering running and maybe would be better off getting yourself to a doctor!

I always want to point out that if you are getting over an illness or have been unwell the past few days but now feel better you should still keep in mind that your body isn’t 100%. It is still recovering and pushing yourself too much can make hinder this, it is a good idea to run like you are still sick even if you may not think you are.


-Before you head out the door determined to run your usual 5km, set yourself a realistic goal. In fact take what you usually run and half that. The point of running right now is not to get ahead in your training or burn a bunch of calories, but just to get some exercise and keep your muscles moving. Think of a distance  that you would be happy with today, remember anything you can run when you are unwell is a huge accomplishment!

-Don’t stress about pace. Seriously just don’t. Try to take running back to its basics and run for the sake of running, enjoy the time outdoors and be proud of your strong wee legs for what they are doing.


-Ten minutes in reconsider how you feel. The first ten minutes of a run always suck and it can be hard to tell if you don’t feel good from being sick, or if it is just your body getting used to running. If after ten minutes you really do feel like crap then head home for a rest.

-Aint no shame in walking! If things are a bit hard, take a short walking break of a few minutes and then start up again.

-Be aware of how you are feeling. If you are feeling pretty good, don’t push yourself to do more, just stick with the goal in mind. If you are starting to feel dizzy just crap then it may be your body telling yourself to stop.


-Finally, hydrate!! Always important when you run be even more so if you are sick. Even if you don’t feel thirsty, keep drinking throughout the day. Food is always a great way to get liquids in, especially in fruits such as watermelon which is pretty much just water. Today I came home and had a lot of papaya melon (not too sure what it is, a cross between watermelon and honeydew I think, but it is delicious).

With all this in mind I ran just over 3km today which is under my training plan but who cares I did what I could.
As you can see from the picture, I was a big sweaty tomato and couldn’t have run what was in my training plan – but I am proud for managing anything. If you are running when you are sick or recovering from an illness, be safe! Try to run for enjoyment 😀


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