A Firsthand Account Of Running When You’re Sick

Running when you’re sick is a no-no. Don’t do it. Don’t even think about it.

Don’t try to fool yourself into thinking you’re well when you’re not. We runners can be so stubborn and I often find myself pushing the limits of wellness during training. It’s almost as if there’s this little motor within us that finds it hard to quit when we need to. We know intellectually that it’s a bad idea to continue training when we are ill. But sometimes, the call of the road, track, or trails (or gym) is so strong that you can’t resist.

Stop right there. Resist!

I don’t know if there’s any medical truth to the practice of sweating it out, but I think have learned a valuable lesson from trying and failing miserably.

Last week, after only a few days of convalescence, I decided it was high time to get my workout on, so I went hard and improvised a heavy leg day on only the first day of remotely feeling better (after being hit with a vicious sinus infection). I kept telling myself: I feel fine! I feel great! And wow, this is the shortest lived sinus infection ever! I must be a super-runner!

I started out the week with this leg day and got up ridiculously early several times to run, fully convinced that I was all better, even though deep down I knew I wasn’t all there yet. I threw in some yoga to round it out. And, I even did a second run one afternoon, you know, to celebrate how GREAT I was feeling!

Turned out that I pushed the envelope, and then the envelope turned around and pushed me to the ground…and kicked me. Not a good look.

So here is my plea to you, dear runner: When you are ill, give yourself ample time to rest up and heal. Slurp slowly on your chicken soup (or miso if you’re a vegetarian), rest (like, in a bed, under a massive amount of covers), drink your fluids and leave the running to those that are well.