Monday, March 12, 2012

Running with a Cold

The past week I have been battling a head cold.  A sort of nasty one. I am never really sick, but seem to get a cold every year.  Been fighting it with cold medicine, rest, and trying to take it easy.

But I am always torn about running and exercising with a cold.  I have done it in the past and it has been perfectly OK; in fact, I can recall it helping the healing process.  I remember a couple of times running and feeling great afterwards..  On the flip side, based on what I know, when you have a cold or fighting infection, your body is working extra hard; taxing it with exercise is just making it work harder. Thus, intuitively, I have to think it is not a good idea.

So, I didn't run for most of the week.  And then Saturday I felt better and it was a great day: sunny and just perfect for running. So I laced them up and went out and ran my 5 mile hills route.  And, the workout turned out pretty well (average 8:30 miles with an average heart rate about 86%). Saturday afternoon I felt great, with the cold in the background.  But not Sunday.  I woke up, and the the cold was back with a vengeance.  Had it just not run its course?  Did I help or hurt myself with the hard run on Saturday?  I don't know, and any insight would be helpful.

But, I am going to the gym tonight and will run easy on the treadmill.


  1. It's always tough to know what's best. For me, I think that the answer tends to be take a couple of days off and get through the worst of it. In the past I would try to push through and just end up sicker than a dog. Feel better!

  2. I've been dealing with my own cold for the past two weeks and struggled to get my runs in.......I tend to go by the old adage that if it's above the neck, you can run, but if it's below the neck, then rest.

  3. I'm always trying to figure out if a cold is just low-grade (verdict: go run) or if it's going to turn nasty (verdict: rest). Sometimes I get it right and am glad I ran, other times the run seems to turn the first kind of cold into the second (that's what happened to me last month). So I guess....I'm not much help.

    Feel better soon, though!

  4. Same thing here. Nasty cold last week but Sun AM I felt great, so I ran a half marathon, today the cold is back, and worse. I knew I shouldn't run it and now I really know. I think when you start to feel better easy is okay (and can sometimes even help), but nothing hard for a few days. That's the plan I'm going with next time.

  5. I recall an article that quoted some scientific study about that. Can't remember which magazine - quite a few years ago. Said that low HR exercise with a cold (not full blown flu) is positive for recovery... so maybe the 8.30 miles was a bit quick. Slow jogging I think is what's required. Even that will have the HR higher than it would be if jogging without a cold.

  6. ugh, I hope you're better by now. I follow the rule of thumb that it's okay to run if the cold is in your head, but when it moves into your lungs, it's better to rest. Although, a day on the couch with reality TV helps too : )


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