Runners don't like to skip workouts--even when they're ill. Here's how to
decide when you should take a sick day from training. By Marc Bloom Image by
Timothy Archibald From the August 2004 issue of Runner's World
Runners seem to live by a creed that's stricter than the postman's: "Neither
rain, nor snow, nor sniffle, nor fever shall keep me from my training
schedule." Indeed, the coming of winter presents many issues for runners who
'd prefer to keep at it even when sick. Oftentimes, symptoms aren't severe
enough to make you stay in bed, home from work, or off the roads. And while
exercise can give you a mental and physical boost when you're feeling run-
down, there are other occasions when going for a run may do more harm than
David Nieman, Ph.D., who heads the Human Performance Laboratory at
Appalachian State University, and has run 58 marathons and ultras, uses the
"neck rule." Symptoms below the neck (chest cold, bronchial infection, body
ache) require time off, while symptoms above the neck (runny nose,
stuffiness, sneezing) don't pose a risk to runners continuing workouts.
This view is supported by research done at Ball State University by Tom
Weidner, Ph.D., director of athletic training research. In one study,
Weidner took two groups of 30 runners each and inoculated them with the
common cold. One group ran 30 to 40 minutes every day for a week. The other
group was sedentary. According to Weidner, "the two groups didn't differ in
the length or severity of their colds." In another study, he found that
running with a cold didn't compromise performance. He concluded that running
with a head cold--as long as you don't push beyond accustomed workouts--is
beneficial in maintaining fitness and psychological well-being.
But, doctors say, you still walk, or run, a fine line. Take extra caution
when training with anything worse than a minor cold because it can escalate
into more serious conditions affecting the lower respiratory tract and lungs
. Sinus infection, or sinusitis, is an inflammation of the sinus cavity that
affects 37 million Americans each year. Symptoms include runny nose, cough,
headache, and facial pressure. With a full-blown sinus infection, you
rarely feel like running. But if you do, consider the 72-hour rule of
Jeffrey Hall Dobken, M.D.: "No running for three days," advises the
allergist/immunologist and ultramarathoner in Little Silver, New Jersey.
Even without the presence of a fever, says Dr. Dobken, some sinus infections
, when stressed by exercise, can lead to pneumonia or, in extreme cases,
Not surprisingly, winter weather increases risk of sinusitis. In dry air,
the nasal passages and mouth lose moisture, causing irritation. "The sinuses
need time to recover," says Dr. Dobken, "just like a knee or foot." So Dr.
Dobken recommends including treadmill running in your winter training
Another option for sinusitis sufferers is pool running. "The water adds
moisture to nasal passages," says John J. Jacobsen, M.D., an allergist in
Mankato, Minnesota. Pool running is preferable to swimming, says Dr.
Jacobsen, because chlorine can be irritating to the nose.
If you're still in doubt about whether it's safe to run or not, take your
temperature. If it's above 99 degrees, skip your run. "Some people think
that they can 'sweat out' a fever by running," says Nieman. "That's wrong.
Running won't help your immune system fight the fever."
Nieman saw this firsthand when his running partner once ran a marathon with
a 101-degree fever. Soon after, the runner developed severe and persistent
symptoms similar to those of chronic fatigue syndrome. "Every day he'd wake
up feeling creaky and arthritic," says Nieman. "When he tried to run, he'd
stumble and fall." Eventually doctors concluded he had a "postviral syndrome
," a latent condition that was exacerbated by the race.
Although this syndrome is rare, it's an example of the risk you take by
running while ill. "Running with a fever makes the fever and flu-like
symptoms worse," says Nieman, "and it can lead to other complications."
During exercise, your heart pumps a large amount of blood from your muscles
to your skin, dissipating the heat your body generates. If you have a fever,
your temperature will rise even higher, and your heart will be put under
greater strain to keep your temperature from soaring. In some cases, this
can produce an irregular heartbeat. Also, a virus can cause your muscles to
feel sore and achy; exercising when your muscles are already compromised
could lead to injury.
Nieman recommends that runners with a fever or the flu hold off until the
day after the symptoms disappear--and then go for a short, easy run. Runners
should wait one to two weeks before resuming their pre-illness intensity
and mileage. Otherwise, you risk a relapse, he says.
Above all, obey your body and the thermometer--not your training program.
Know Your Limits
How much running can compromise your immune system to the point of making
you sick? For average runners, the dividing line seems to be 60 miles a week
, according to David Nieman, Ph.D., of the Human Performance Laboratory at
Appalachian State University. Nieman conducted the largest study ever done
on this question by examining 2,300 runners who competed in the 1987 Los
Angeles Marathon. "The odds of getting sick were six times higher than
normal after the marathon," says Nieman, "and those who ran 60 miles a week
or more doubled their chance of getting sick." The illnesses were of the
upper respiratory tract, including sinus infections. Nieman says there's no
doubt these findings are still applicable to runners today. He's also used
himself as a test case: When Nieman trained up to 90 miles a week, he
constantly battled sore throats. When he dropped his weekly mileage below 60
, the symptoms stopped.
Take the RW Challenge to run your first--or fastest--race. You'll also get
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2my rule of thumb is, if I feel better or the same after the run, I'd keep
running. otherwise I rest.
【在 y**********u 的大作中提到】
: Runners don't like to skip workouts--even when they're ill. Here's how to
: decide when you should take a sick day from training. By Marc Bloom Image by
: Timothy Archibald From the August 2004 issue of Runner's World
: Runners seem to live by a creed that's stricter than the postman's: "Neither
: rain, nor snow, nor sniffle, nor fever shall keep me from my training
: schedule." Indeed, the coming of winter presents many issues for runners who
: 'd prefer to keep at it even when sick. Oftentimes, symptoms aren't severe
: enough to make you stay in bed, home from work, or off the roads. And while