May was suppose to be my base training month. I wanted to get my mileage back up to where it was in the winter (I took a few months off and focused on spinning, pilates and this crazy megareformer class), get faster and feel fit heading into marathon training season. That plan was seriously derailed as I got sick not once but twice. Now, I don't get sick. I lived in NYC for 5 years and got a few colds during that time. Being sick 2x in one month is not fun and it's made running really hard!
I got food poisoning and had to stop all activity for 3 days because I had zero strength and was dehydrated. The risks didn't outweigh the benefits in that scenario. Next, I got a sore throat/cold. I was tired and stuffy but I knew that sweating would make me feel better. I did a spin class, I did yoga at home and I ran. Jessica and I had decided to do a hard/fast run last week and I wanted to do it because I hadn't been able to push it on a run in a few weeks. I was sick and not feeling great but I headed out with her, figuring I can always slow down and walk if needed. We did our warm up mile and then started chatting and boom, we were running fast. I kept up for a mile or 2 and then had to back it off. After the run, I felt great. I hydrated, stretched and got a good night sleep.
This month gave me a lot of insight into running while sick. I don't always recommend it; it's definitely a choice that each person has to make because, ultimately, you know your body the best. The difference between the 2 sicks "illnesses" is sleep and hydration/nutrition. I didn't sleep for 2 nights with food poisioning (it didn't last that long, but I still felt terrible the 2nd night) and didn't eat for almost 2 days. Running on empty like that is NOT recommended. Taking days off is the best choice there. With the cold/sore throat, I was able to sleep (more soundly at least) and eat. I had calories in me, thus, felt that a run or a spin class (it was a slow spin day!) was beneficial. It helped work out some of the stiffness and soreness you feel when you are sick. Plus, with the run, just being outside, in the sun and fresh air, helped.
Next time you are sick, and asking yourself "should I run when I'm sick?", make sure you take into account your sleep and nutrition, as well as, how you feel. Being fueled and rested is a huge part of any trianing plan while healthy, thus, it could be the determining factor in whether you run or not. And, ultimately, skipping a few days, won't hurt you in the long run.