Running While Sick?

Sick and Tired? Don’t Run 

It’s that time of year when colds and sickness is running rampant.  Your body is already susceptible to sickness because you are constantly fatigued.  Is it better to sweat out a cold, or stay under the covers? 


"Never run while sick." -Dr J. Daniels 

Running Guru Jack Daniels was pretty strict on this issue.  Other running coaches say the physical boost you get from running out in the fresh air might help you overcome a minor illness.  If you are stuck in bed with the flu and can barely stand, then the answer is obvious: Don’t Run!  But if you are battling a common cold, there answer can be a little less clear. 

Research has been done at Ball State University where they gave runners different types of colds to see how they performed.  What they found was if you have a head cold, then run. If the cold settles in below the neckline, skip the miles. 

They are numerous medical reasons for the neck to be the demarcation line.  If the cold is simply a runny nose or stuffy head, it likely won’t affect performance that much.  If might not be the most comfortable run, and you may want to back off the intensity, but you will likely not do any further harm.   

If you are hacking up mucus, have trouble breathing, stomach issues, or have all over body aches and pains and any other concerns below your shoulders, it’s probably best to call it a day.  One reason, according to doctors, is a below the neck cold has likely gotten into the respiratory system and physical exertion can make it worse.  As a matter of fact, exercising while ill could end up sidelining you for several weeks, not days, which can really throw your training schedule off. 

So take a few days off, drink the chicken noodle soup, and let your body rest.  It will likely be much better for you in the long run.