I've Got a Cold - Should I Run Today?
I’ve got a cold – should I still run today?
Its all common sense I hear you shout, but I am beginning to believe there is nothing common about sense with runners. We are all mad to some degree, myself included.
In the last few weeks some of the runners we personally advise each week have had a cold and there has even been the odd case of man-flu. Probably the worst virus of all!
We always advise people ease right back on the throttle and effort levels even if it’s a mild head cold. The body is tired, low and needs extra energy to fight the virus. If you feel hot, have a temperature and a full-blown cold then its definitely a few days rest. You might stretch or complete a light core session but don’t raise your heart rate.
Many of you will in fact find your resting heart rate is higher than normal. Your body is working hard to beat the virus so don’t add to the stress levels by trying to train hard.
When the heart rate, if you normally take it at rest in the morning, has returned to normal, you’re probably ready to put in a couple of days of easy running before stepping back into the routine.
I have heard many sports doctors say that once you have a sore throat and the symptoms move below the neck then it must be rest. There are genuine health risks and in extreme cases training or racing at this point could have serious implications for the heart and definitely prolong the illness. Suddenly what could have been 4-5 days of missed training turns into 2-3 weeks of feeling tired with a chest infection and trips to the GP to get anti biotics. All because we didn’t rest or respect the symptoms our body displayed.
Indeed, a number of years ago, a lady I coached went to Chicago to run the marathon. She was super fit and in her early 60’s. After a long flight she unfortunately came down with a cold a member of her family had passed on from back home before leaving. My phone was hot with messages of panic, should I run and will I still run well? She felt terrible with a sore throat, tight chest and full blown cold. Her pulse was high and the race was only a couple of days away. I advised her not to race and to watch if she could bare it! What a nightmare after all the training and money spent getting to the States. I thought that was it and decision made but on race day I got the dreaded message from her husband to say she was in hospital after collapsing on the course. Yes she had tried to run the marathon and obviously not finished. Worse still she spent a week in hospital recovering. A scary lesson for us all and the athlete concerned has gone on to run many pb’s over all distances in her 60’s and survived many colds. Resting and missing a few days training, or even the odd race hasn’t made any difference to her wonderful CV.
So I guess this old coach is asking you to stay healthy and only run when well. A few missed days definitely gets you back running well sooner. Try to eat healthily and stay well hydrated at all times, but especially when ill. Get those nutrients into the body that will fight and then aid recovery. Any extra sleep will also help.
Next week we will chat about how to avoid getting a cold this winter and offer some top tips……………….
So no risks this winter please and listen to your body. It will get better quickly, but only if you give it a chance.
Nick & Phoebe