Friday, February 26, 2010

Running While Sick

We've all been there. Start feeling a dry, scratchy throat, an aching headache, congestion. Grrr. A cold is coming on. Sicknesses get in the way of even the best runners. Some studies have shown that highly active runners are more prone to get sick because of a decreased immune system - less sleep, more stress put on the body, etc. So, while you want to get in all your training runs and finish the races you've signed up for, sometimes illnesses can get in the way. This happened to me last year when I was supposed to run the 18-mile Marathon Tune-Up. It was raining, chilly, and I had a head cold. Not a good combination when my ultimate goal was running the marathon a few weeks later.

I may have mentioned earlier this week that I wasn't feeling too well. I started to feel a cold coming on Monday afternoon after my Mom had left for the airport. I was congested, had a headache, sneezing, feeling generally exhausted. No, not a pretty sight. Thank goodness I don't have a picture to share with you! I've been battling it all week but I think it is starting to fade away!

The question is: do you workout when you're sick or not?

This can be a very personal question. Usually when Woody gets sick, he puts on sweats, a knit hat and hits the cardio machine and then the steamroom to 'sweat it out' before loading up on about 4 oranges and other citrus fruits throughout the day. Usually, this works for him. I don't really have a routine like this, but I follow a rule of thumb I've read several places: if it's in your lungs, don't workout. Obviously, if you're not able to breathe well, it's not the best idea to do cardio and stress your lungs and heart more than they already are.

This week, I've continued to workout but I've slept in each morning about an hour and then cut my cardio by about 10 minutes but increased the intensity a little and I've cut out a few strength exercises that increase pressure in my sinuses. It seems to be working since I'm feeling better. Unfortunately, today we didn't get to the gym because of the snow storm that we're in the midst of. We knew it would be too slippery getting there this morning so I hope to workout in our fitness room later this afternoon instead.

How do you deal with working out when you're feeling under the weather? My one suggestion (aside from definitely sitting it out if it's hard to breathe) is to listen to your body and do what it says! If you're exhausted and feel miserable, working out or going to that race, is not going to help you. Chances are you'll feel worse afterwards and then just wish you had slept instead!

Back to the Marathon Tune-Up - as much as I wanted to hit that mileage and get that long run in, I had to skip it and eat the registration fee. I won't deny that I was pretty sad that morning when I knew thousands of people were running the race, but I knew if I wanted to run the marathon I had to give up that one race.

Check out these amazing oranges and grapefruits Woody's Mom sent us from Florida! YUM! These will definitely help me get rid of this cold!

Check out our view this morning! (yes, that's snow covering the windows!)

Good luck to all the runner's who have races this weekend, including The Redhead, B.o.B. and Jamoosh, who are all running the Gasparilla Marathon on Sunday!! You are going to rock it and have fun doing it!!
If you're running a race this weekend, leave a comment and we'll all send good wishes your way!


Teamarcia said...

If my head is congested, I work out and usually feel better afterward. If it's on my chest, I rest and recuperate. Hope you feel better!

Robyn said...

Perfect post since I'm sick and debating about what I should do!! It's in my throat so I'm thinking since the weather is so bad anyway I may have to postpone tomorrow's 7-miler. I do have to admit being sick is usually my excuse to take a break from exercise and not feel bad about it :)

Molly said...

this is so timely, I woke up with a sore throat! I just slammed some Amazing Grass with grapefruit juice, and lots of water. I'll lay low today, because I have a last outdoor training run tomorrow and I really want to make it!

Katie @ Health for the Whole Self said...

I totally agree with what you said - you just have to listen to your body. I've tried to push it too far in the past, and I only made myself worse and ended up missing more workouts than I would have if I had just given myself a break!

NY Wolve said...

I've gone both ways on this -- run when I am sick and sit it out. Sometimes I have a great run, sometimes total crap. Sometimes it seems to clear me out and really help. Other times it made me worse. So I have no idea. I usually take it as a rest day figuring it does the body good anyway.

Julie said...

I hope that you start feeling better soon:) Have a great weekend Lisa!!