Reader To Reader: Help, I’ve Got A Cold!


"How soon should I run after I've had a cold? I've always been sporty, but I've only been running seriously for a few months. In the past when I've had colds and coughs, I've often gone back to sport as soon as I've been able to breathe properly again, but I've heard that you shouldn't return to running until you're fully fit. I know this isn't exactly the most pressing health issue in running, but, as a newbie to the sport, I want to do it right. I'm also hopelessly addicted and don't want to be off for longer than I need to! What do people suggest?"
Rachel Chan

Your best answers...

  • Chest cold = No way Jose!
    Blocked nostrils = Generally OK
    Fever = Have done it, but it makes things worse.
    When a cold is 'bubbling under', hard training always makes sure it breaks out big style. – Welsh Alex
  • I quite often find that if I exercise, even at a lower pace/intensity, then I feel a lot better for it. At the end of the day, listen to your body and do what you feel is right. Carry on enjoying the running! – Kazzah
  • If you have a temperature, your cold is likely to be viral and you have an active viremia. In which case, don't run. If you don't have a temperature, run. If it's on your chest, you can run if there's no wheeze or shortness of breath, or pain when you cough and breathe – if there are any of those symptoms, do not run. The risks of running with a viremia are long term fatigue or cardiac complications that may atop you running for months; the complications of running with bronchospasm or pluerisy or pnuemothorax are even worse. Remember, a week off will not lessen your conditioning. A stich in time still can save nine. – cabletow
  • My physio recently told me that when we have colds or chest infections, our bodies release a hormone like 'relaxin' in pregnancy, which relaxes the pelvic muscles. So you are more inclined to suffer pelvic instability and injury. It's worth waiting and allowing your body to heal before continuing. – Sophie Moss
  • Running with any kind of viral infection is a very bad idea indeed, and can mean that you end up out of action for months. Having said that, I also think that it's really important to listen to what your body tells you. If you feel like running, go for it, but keep it gentle. You will soon know if it's a bad idea! – vixter
  • Feverish or chesty: do not r*n. Otherwise it's up to how you feel. Getting some fresh air usually helps the breathing and lifts your mood. I have r*n when a bit bronchial, following a cold, but it is not something I would advise anyone else to do. Fluid can build up in the lungs, and that can kill you. (I take my own risks, based on experience or pigheadedness...) – Big David
  • When I'm recovering from a cold I always try a brisk walk. If I feel OK, I progress onto very easy jog. Any problems, stop and wait a day before trying again! Also, I generally wear extra layers of clothing when I've been feeling rough. I was told it's important to keep warm after a cold – can't remember why, though! – Simon Richards
  • Running with flu can kill. There were several deaths a while back. International standard Swedish orienteers and some cyclists, if I recall. That said, I like to keep active if at all possible with some gentle running. It also helps 'clear the passages', although last night I bit off too much, trying to keep up with the fast lads on a club fartlek session whilst still feeling chesty. Whatever you do, think about how you feel and don't be tempted to push too hard. Be prepared to cut your session down if you are feeling rough – so plan a route that allows you to bail early! – Expat Scot
  • I don't believe you will lose any significant training effect by resting completely until your cold is over. Training is a stress like a cold, and the combination means your body has to cope with two major stressors. A few days off training shouldn't make any long term difference to your aims, but the risk of continuing is to be run down for up to several weeks. Stress & recovery = improvment. – Robman
  • If you run when you have a cold, you will make it worse. Don't do it. – Kenneth Berry
  • If I'm feeling a little under the weather, I find getting out for a gentle run helps. I pay close attention to my heart rate, keep the effort EASY, and run for 30-35 minutes max. It may be psychological, but I'm sure the lift my mood gets from this helps with recovery. Much better than staying indoors and feeling miserable for not training. Anything on the chest at all, DON'T RUN! – XL-man
  • Ah, glad this came up. Mini Tweety has just given me her cold – my first one in ages. I like the idea of going out for a walk in the fresh air and possibly breaking into a jog, and I'll probably be trying it tomorrow morning. – tweetywhoateallthepies?


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