Marathon Training When Sick

Hey Guys! I hope you all had a very relaxing and enjoyable weekend! Michael and I had an incredibly low-key and chill weekend.  Why? Friday morning I went to the doctor since my sore throat I was experiencing all week was not getting any better.  They diagnosed me with strep throat.  I spent the rest of Friday lying around and letting my antibiotics get to work.  Mike had a cold all last week so we decided the mission of the weekend was to kick our sickness and get better.  We are far too busy and active to be sick.

I did manage to get to Team in Training and do a 14 mile long run.  I missed Thursday’s speed workout because I didn’t feel well so I really did not want to miss this week’s long run.  Heres’s a look at last week’s workouts:

Workouts from the week of 1/30/12

I know there is a lot of different colds and flu’s going around and people are struggling to stay on track with their training and workout plans.  Here’s my tips for working out and sickness…

Listen to Your Body. 

You all know I love this advice but I love it even more when I am not feeling so great.  If my body is screaming for the couch I usually listen to it.  Other times I can tough out a workout.

Modify if Necessary. 

Your plan may be calling for a 6 mile workout with 4 miles at tempo.  If you are feeling congested, and having a hard time breathing but still feel like you could get in some kind of a workout then consider modifying.  An easy run may be perfect. In this case I would usually set out for a run and aim for an easy 3 miles.  If I feel good enough I’ll would try to get in all 6 miles but skip the tempo part.

Neck and Above You Are Good To Go.  Chest and Down Hit the Couch. 

This is my rule of thumb when determining if I am well enough to workout.  If I have a head cold and a mild sore throat I will still try to go for a run.  If I have cough, chest congestion or any stomach problems I will call it a rest day and stay home and rest.

Hit the Couch and Rest

Don’t Push It. 

If I am at all on the fence about what to do about a workout when I am not feeling well I call it off and rest. When your body is not 100% a rest day can be just as valuable as a run. I come from the school of thought where I would rather miss one run than be sick for days and miss workouts, work and other life commitments.

Medicine Can Help. 

I don’t really love the idea of pumping my body with ibuprofen, Tylenol or cold medicine.  I think it’s bad for my liver and the body but when I have a cold or headache I don’t hesitate to take medicine.  I find that it can help me kick a cold a lot faster than when I skip the medicine.

Take Vitamin C. 

When I feel a cold coming on or don’t feel 100% I immediately take some Vitamin C.  I am a big fan of Emergen-C and honestly believe that it has helped me avoid getting sick more than once.  I also take some after every long run.  Your body is worn down after a long run and giving it some extra Vitamin C can’t hurt.  It is definitely good to have on hand!


Don’t Stress.  

My last piece of advice is to not stress.  Following a training plan is great but training plans don’t come with planned sick days.  You have to learn to follow it, and adjust it as life comes at you.  One or two missed runs is not going to ruin race day for you.  And trying to make up for missed miles once you feel better is not always the best idea.  In fact, it can lead you right back to sickness.  If you are forced to miss a run or two because you’re not feeling so great relax and get better and pick up your plan again as soon as you are feeling well enough.

I hope you all have a healthy winter and avoid sickness but if you do get sick I hope these tips help you to stay on track and get better soon!

Now as for the Superbowl…

What a great game for both teams.  As a NY girl I always rooted for the Giants but now that I live in Boston and date a man whose family faithfully watches the Pats and loves Tom Brady it was hard for me to choose who I wanted to win.  Honestly, both teams probably did.  So a big congratulations to the Giants! And for the Pats, I’m sorry you had to lose.  Especially in the wake of Myra.  It was a football game that left me on the edge of my seat and interested the whole time so that’s a pretty big win for football in my book!

How do you manage training and sickness? What are your tips for following a training plan when you are not 100%? What did you do for the Superbowl? Who did you route for?


15 thoughts on “Marathon Training When Sick

  1. Meredith @ DareYouTo says:

    Great advice! It can be so hard to workout or get motivated when not feeling in top-shape. I, too, follow the neck-up rule for still getting to the gym, but often if I’m really not feeling so hot, I’ll take it easier on myself. Instead of running, I’ll elliptical. I’ll do spin class, but maybe take the sprints easy. Or, I’ll do a medium-intensity strength video, to work my muscles without fatiguing my head or struggling to breathe through a stuffed-up nose.


  2. Christine @ Love, Life, Surf says:

    Definitely a timely post as I had to modify my plan for last week as well due to a weird linger cough, congestion and overall yuckiness. I think that a big part of it is learning to be more forgiving of ourselves – don’t stress, don’t push it, and listen to your body. I think that it’s so easy to become a slave to your training schedule or the thinking that if I don’t work out hard X days a week then it’s not worth it. Important to step back and look at the bigger picture!


  3. Theodora says:

    I think don’t stress is the biggest one. A marathon training cycle is usually at least 3 months, and taking off one week to completely rest and get better won’t kill you. For me, if I push through, I usually get sicker and have to take more time off.


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