So you’re training for a half marathon and you’re sick. And you’re wondering if it is okay to run. This topic is on my mind because my cold from the other week came back in the form of ColdmageddonIdon’tknowwhatelseisgoingonherebutithurtstomoveitis and so I’ve skipped some training days.
If you’re training for a half marathon you are a type A personality and so you won’t take off on training day unless you absolutely have to. My rule of thumb is if your illness is above the neck it is probably fine for you to run. Below the neck, odds are you should take a day off. So if you have the sniffles or a headache you’re good. Fever, nausea or body aches? Probably not a good idea to run.
The reason for this is if you’re running with a below the neck illness odds are running will get you dehydrated and sicker, resulting in even more training days off.
And now my story behind the rule.
I was once like you. If I had a fever or anything else really I would stick to my schedule on anything and everything unless I absolutely couldn’t move. Until just before Easter of 2012 or so.
I was on a business trip in California. I came down with what I thought was a bad cold and felt absolutely awful. I mean really really bad. But I went to the conference anyway and I even stuck to my training schedule. Because I felt so bad I wasn’t drinking or eating very much and with the fever I was probably running while I was literally running this did not help with staying hydrated. I figured mind over matter and it would all work out, with the conference and my running. On the day before we were supposed to leave (my husband was with me as he was attending the same conference) we had a free day, no conference. And so, even though I felt really bad, I decided to drag myself out of bed and go sightseeing with him because hey, how often was I going to be in California and be able to see the sights? Bad idea it turned out.
At the end of our sight seeing day we were standing in the middle of a crowded trolley when I started to feel funny and boom down I went. As in I keeled over and passed out in the middle of a crowded trolley car. They stopped the car and my husband half carried me out. I had no idea what was going on with me except I knew I was thirsty. Really really thirsty. Drink an ocean thirsty. A few minutes later a fire truck and later an ambulance showed up for me.
The only bright spot in this story is that if you are going to keel over then San Francisco is the place to do it because all of their emergency responders look like movie stars. I mean seriously, all of them. One guy looked exactly like Dean Cain 1 , the other guy looked like Jet Li, and the female looked like Rosario Dawson. Swear to God. The emergency responders don’t look like that in Ardmore, Alabama (where I last lived). And so when the Rosario Dawson lookalike took my blood pressure and saw how low it was and Dean Cain said “Ma’am I’m not giving you a choice, you’re going to the hospital” I wasn’t about to argue. I was even half hoping I would pass out again because maybe him or Jet Li would carry me. Anyway, moving on.
So I get to the hospital and it turns out I had bronchitis and was very dehydrated, which was why I passed out. Two bags of IV fluid later my blood pressure was back up and with a prescription for antibiotics I was on my way back to the hotel.
If the trip to the hospital doesn’t spook you into taking it easy let me appeal to your wallet. Between the ambulance ride, hospital bill, doctor visit, unexpected extended stay in the hotel, etc. not taking it easy and skipping running (and really I probably should have skipped the last day of the conference) cost me at least $2,000.00.
So, this time around I’m smarter. I didn’t train while I had the fever and I took a sick day off of work. And I’m fever free only two days later, feeling much better, and don’t have $2,000.00 worth of medical expenses. So take it from me. If you’re running a fever or feel like you are possibly going to die then take a day or two off. It will all work out in the end. A day off of training will not make or break you.
1 My husband is also hot of course.