Can I Train When I Am Sick?

Is it starve a cold, feed a fever? Or, Starve a fever, feed a cold? If you’re like me you can never remember. So, when is it ok train if you are sick?

This is big question when you’re training for a marathon or half marathon that is 8 weeks away. You’re schedule is calling for big mileage. You don’t want to lose your conditioning. You wonder how you are going to make up those miles you lost by not training. Some of you will train no matter the situation.

Here are some guidelines to help you make an informed decision. Please consider that it is always better to be on the safe side and discuss your symptoms with a certified medical doctor and proceed accordingly.

The last 7 days in LA have been busy and cold. I have been running most mornings in the 30s which is cold for this So Cal kid. I grew up in LA and never really live in a different climate. I don’t really know cold and either does my body. Annually, around this time of year I get a head cold.

Well it happened again this year. I have a stuffy nose as I write this. I also have 3 marathons coming up. What do I need to know?

  • Colds are viruses
  • Colds typically last 8 – 10 days but can last up to 3 weeks
  • Antibiotics don’t work on colds
  • Colds are passed by contact, wash your hands regularly when during cold and flu season

But can I train when I am sick? Here’s the general rule:

Above the Neck YES

Below the Neck NO

Most of the time rest, lots of water and healthy food is the best remedy but if you feel you need to train:

Keep the Intensity Low

To try and speed up your recovery you can take over the counter products but typically they only reduce symptoms. I like Cold Eze and Emergency C.

Going back to the first question, “Is it starve a cold, feed a fever?” From what I found, you never starve yourself. Rely on rest, lots of water and healthy food.

Train Focused,

Steve Mackel – Head Coach, Sole Runners Full and Half Marathon Training Programs


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