Should You Train When You’re Sick?

I get lots of questions about what to do when you’re sick. Everyone gets sick, so here are a few guidelines to help you decide whether or not to train while you are sick.

  1. First of all, take care of yourself. Get plenty of sleep (8+ hrs per night plus naps, if possible). Eat light (for example, soups, crackers, fruit, fresh or steamed veggies, etc.) and drink lots of water (some juice is OK, but watch out – juice is calorie dense). Remember, everyone gets a cold from time to time, so try to stay relaxed and eliminate as much stress as possible. The sooner you get well, the quicker you’re back training and racing. Let your coach know you are sick.
  2. If your symptoms are only above your shoulders (for example, a head cold and maybe a light sore throat) with no fever or aches then an easy 30 minute to 1 hour of zone 1 of aerobic exercise (spin, run, swim) is OK, but only if you are feeling up to it! If you’re not motivated, don’t work out, and just do some stretching and light core work and follow guideline #1.
  3. If you’re sick in your chest, have a fever, and/or aches, then DO NOT EXERCISE. Remember, the sooner you get well, the sooner you can resume training. Once you’re starting to feel better (no longer sick below the neck, no aches or fever) wait another 48 hours to resume your regular training routine. If you’re feeling motivated during the 48 hours, see guideline #2. Be sure to see your doctor if you are really sick! And if you are sick longer than a week, we need to change your training schedule, so check in with your coach.

Keep in mind that although training while you are sick may make you feel better mentally, it can compromise your immune system, so following your regular training is not the best choice in the long run.

February 1, 2007 | Posted in: Training Tips |