Saturday, March 26, 2011

Should I run if I have a cold ?

Tomorrow I am due to run the Whole Foods Market Breakfast Run in Kingston, Surrey. The only problem is I have a cold... So, should you run with a cold ? Well, there are a few guidelines to follow in making your decision.

Firstly, it depends on the 'type' of cold. If you are running a temperature, definitely don't run. Your body is already obviously having a problem regulating your usual body temperature so don't give it even more work by running too. If you have a raised temperature - stay home and relax.

A rule of thumb that Biscuit Boy uses is that if the cold is above the neck (eg ears and nose and head) then you can run, but if the cold has moved to your chest then it is best to not run.

Last week when BB woke feeling ill on Saturday with Hastings half marathon to run the next day, he was sure he would be OK to run, but then when he woke up on the big day with a splitting headache he knew it was a non-starter. Instead of leaving for the race at 7am, he slept until 11am. This shows that we don't always practise what we preach and sometimes you just have to listen to your body.

So, what am I going to do tomorrow ? Firstly I am due to run 16 miles. Fortunately, the route consists of two 8-mile loops, so I already know that if need be I can transfer to the 8-mile race if I want to.. If it was a straight 16 mile out and back one loop then I would not be starting the race. Secondly, the cold has not reached my chest (yet!) I have the asthma inhaler on standby just in case, but my nose has been stinging right up in the sinuses ALL day. I haven't taken any meds which can sometimes make you think you are well when you are not, and I have made sure to stay hydrated all day.

I have also told myself that I am no longer racing the race. I did the race in 2009 with a result of 2hr 20-something minutes and I was totally pleased with the result. If I had been free of cold tomorrow I would have been confident about beating my time. Now, I will be treating the first 8 miles as a training run, running at a training pace, rather than a race pace and I'll be monitoring how I'm feeling as I go.. I will take my cell phone in my little pocket-pouch-carry-thingy and if I need to drop out then I will. I know it sounds cliched but you do have to listen to your body, and if it feels wrong just don't do it - it's not worth the risk to your health.

Finally, it's always a good idea to ease up on the training if you're feeling under the weather. With my cold on the scene all week, I haven't run since I did the 7.5 mile cross country championships last Saturday in the hope that the cold would have gone by now.. I allowed myself to do this for a couple of reasons - I would be tapering my training this week anyway with a big race coming, and also I know that I am not going to lose any fitness in a week.

Well, my kit is sorted, my gels are arranged, my compression socks are ready to put on. I'll add a postscript to this tomorrow and let you know how I get on. Wish me luck !!

POSTSCRIPT> I started the 16-mile race nice and slowly and increased my speed after a few miles to a decent pace. Around mile 5 my throat and chest started to feel more painful so I slowed down again and made the decision that I would be sensible and stop after 8 miles. I'm used to running ten miles on a Sunday, so fortunately this 8 mile loop was not a great challenge. I could have carried on, but I think I would have felt pretty awful if I had continued. Biscuit Boy told me my time was 1hr 20 mins which sounds about right.

Other than my marathon in October, I have no races booked, so I am on the look out for a new run. I will be doing some serious training in France in April so a nice fast 10K in May could be on the cards as it's been quite a while since I ran a 10K.

In the meantime, it's a day off the running tomorrow and more rest to see if I can shift this cold.

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