Marathon Training 2019 Day 36: To Run or Not To Run, What Do You Do When You Feel Sick

“If your body’s not right, the rest of your day will go all wrong. Take care of yourself.” ― V.L. Allineare

I decided not to do my scheduled run for this morning and get more sleep because I could feel a cold coming on. Instead, I waited until the evening to do my run. By that time I was feeling much better and felt about 90% well. I did a easy-paced run for ~33 minutes with 4 x 20-second strides with ~90-second slow jog recovery intervals. This brings me to the topic of today’s Tip of the Day, which addresses whether or not you should run if you are sick. Immediately after my run I performed the following exercises:

  • Leg swings forward and back with straight leg and bent leg (10 repetitions for each leg)
  • Leg swings side-to-side with straight leg and bent leg (10 repetitions for each leg)
  • Single-leg stands (~45 seconds)
  • Clamshells (20 repetitions on each side)
  • Prone planks (~40 seconds)
  • Side planks (~30 seconds)
  • Supine planks (~20 seconds)
  • Glute bridge hip lifts (10 repetitions)
  • Quadrupeds (15 repetitions on each side)
  • Toe yoga (10 cycles)
  • Fire hydrants (10 repetitions on each side)
  • Knee circles forward (10 repetitions for each leg)
  • Knee circles backward (10 repetitions for each leg)
  • Single-leg balances (~30 seconds)

After performing these exercises I foam rolled for ~10 minutes.

Recommendation: If you are feeling well perform the recommended workout from the Fitness Training Program. If you are not feeling well, see the Tip of the Day.

Tip of the Day: Whether or not you should run if you are sick depends on the extent of your illness and the type of illness. This time of year the common cold and to a less extent, the flu, can occur. If you have the flu I recommend not running and getting your rest and fluids, so that you can recover faster and be on your feet running again sooner. If you have the common cold, whether or not you run has a lot to do with how you are feeling and if the cold is in your chest or head. If it is in your chest you should not run. Get your rest and fluids and let the cold take its course. If the cold is a head cold, you could still run, however you might be better served by cutting back on the intensity and duration of your run.

So, assess how you feel. I you feel you are at least 85-90% well, then you can run. If not, you should not run. If you have to take some time off running, when you return, you should perform at least 2-3 days of easy running for 30 minutes before resuming your training. After you do your first run back, take inventory the next day.  Use the 85-90% rule to decide if you should go for a run or not. For long runs and runs with speed or hill work, you should feel 100% well. If not, run 30-45 minutes easy with strides (as long as you feel at least 85% well). When getting back to running after being sick, you should simply move your training back a week.

Please let me know if you have any questions, or if I can help in any way.

Be well, and be your best self today!

Your friend and coach,



  • Simple Marathon Training, Jay Johnson, PFB Publishing: Denver, CO, 2016.