DR. BETTIE: Resuming Training After an Illness

DR. BETTIE: Resuming Training After an Illness

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Resuming Training After an Illness


We are right in the middle of cold and flu season, which means you are bound to find yourself sidelined at some point due to illness.  How do you best take care of yourself when illness strikes and safely resume your training once you start to feel like yourself again?  Dr. Bettie is here to help!  I recently found myself taken down by the flu.  What I thought was just a little sniffle turned into a high fever and body aches and I found myself down for the count.


Do not try to run with a high fever.  Recovering from illness in and of itself places a lot of demands on your body.  Your body and immune system is working overtime to fight the virus.  Work on resting and staying hydrated.  By resting now, you will allow your body the time it needs to heal and you will be able to get back to your training sooner.  Your body heals more quickly with less stress.  Also focus on eating high quality foods and getting plenty of sleep.


Once your fever breaks, that means your body is on the mend, but it does not mean you should jump right back into your training plan,  After your temperature and eating has returned to normal, give your body at least one or two additional days of rest before resuming training.  And when you do run again start with easy effort runs.  As a rule of thumb, do one easy effort run for each day that you were sick before resuming high intensity workouts.  Listen to your body,  Even though you may feel better, your immune system is still working on rebuilding itself.


If you find yourself struggling with a minor cold, which includes only light sniffles and no fever, it is still okay to run.  In fact, some studies have found that people with minor colds have actually felt better after exercising.  So there’s no need to derail your training for a runny nose, but listen to your body and stop if you develop a fever or chest congestion.


Finally, do not despair if you do find yourself having to take a few days off for an illness.  You will not lose a lot of fitness by resting for a few days and your body needs the rest more than it needs the running when you are sick and fighting an illness.  Take it easy and resume running gently so as not to overstress your body and risk the return of illness.  The investment you make in resting your body will be worth it, as you will find yourself back on the roads and trails in less time.


Here’s to good health and happy running!