Too sick to run?

Earlier this week, I wrote a post about how hard it is to stop a body in motion, when that body is yours and it is injured and your doctor has warned you to give that body a break. Today, I got a sign from the running gods that really, it’s time to chill out for a day or two.

Last night, my body got hit with a weird, flu-ish haze that left me achy and exhausted, with a tiny bit of head congestion, like my body’s deciding whether it really wants to be sick. This left me deciding whether I wanted to attempt my group run with Pacers Silver Spring tonight.

I followed what David Nieman, Ph.D., who heads the Human Performance Laboratory at Appalachian State University and has run 58 marathons and ultras, calls the “neck rule:” Symptoms below the neck — a chest cough, or body aches — require time off. Symptoms above the neck — a runny nose, stuffiness, sneezing — and you’re good to go.

Given that the body-aches and exhaustion are nothing if not neck-down, I opted to play it safe and stay home. Still, I was totally jealous as I watched Steve get dressed to meet our running group, even though I felt too tired and achy to even contemplate getting up to refill my Nalgene with water.

Steve answered the “am I too sick to run” question for me by reminding me that we’re planning to run the Crystal City Twilighter 5K on Saturday night. “Don’t sacrifice Saturday for a run you won’t get anything out of tonight,” he said.

He’s smart, that guy. He knew that the real question was: Is it smart for me to run tonight? The answer to that one was an unequivocal “no.”

In case there was any doubt, I reverted to a rule my mom had for me in high school: If I was too sick to go to school, I was too sick to go to swim practice after school. I actually laid down for a nap today, which are usually physically impossible for me, during what I consider my working hours. Too sick for school, too sick for practice.

Wondering whether you’re too sick to run? Get more insights from Nieman in this great Runner’s World piece on the topic. For more insights from my mom, I’m not sure what to tell you.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to pop some more echinacea and Tylenol Sinus.


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5 responses to “Too sick to run?

  1. amy-it sucks to be sick in the summer. really-anytime, but especially in the warmer months when we feel we need to take advantage of the weather.

    Your body is rebelling, as you and Steve wisely note. I hope you’re getting the rest you need-and deserve.

  2. trialsoftraining

    Uh oohhh – hope you start feeling better quickly! Good choice staying home tonight. I’ll be at the CC Twilight Race saturday too! Maybe I’ll see ya there šŸ™‚

  3. Wise smart choice!! As I said on twitter-I didn’t heed this advice and ran when I was feeling like crap-and ended up being sick for over a week! So well done!!! Rest!! And I hope you feel better in the morning!!!

  4. sounds best to take it easy! i follow the neck-line rule too though sometimes it doesn’t matter and I just need to rest. take it easy and feel better!

  5. Pingback: Should I run when I’m sick? (the swim-practice rule) « Amy Reinink

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