Should You Run When You’re Sick?

flu Recently, with the season change, several people have inquired as to whether it’s safe to run whilst sick. Y’all know I follow the rule of “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.” Which included my 10.5 km run yesterday with the start of the cold. However, I am reblogging this article from Runners World, because they get into a little more depth. Hope it helps!

Should You Run When You’re Sick?

By Marc Bloom

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 good.

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, respiratory failure.

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 regimen.

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.

Guest Blogger: Roni Davis tackles FASTED CARDIO!

Guest Blogger Roni Davis on RunningKatTalesSo, Kat asked me how beneficial and safe it was to do fasted cardio. I laughed because it’s SUCH a controversial subject. I’ve read some fairly heated debates from some of the top pros in the industry arguing both sides with points that are all really compelling. Below, I’ll provide a link to one of my favorites but if you’re not interested in reading a lot about the science behind it, the two basic schools of thought are as follows:

Pros: Proponents say that you will burn more fat than if you eat beforehand.

Your body stores glycogen to use as its preferred source of fuel during exercise. The idea behind fasted cardio is that your glycogen stores would be somewhat depleted first thing in the morning after fasting overnight. Having less glycogen available to use as fuel, it would switch and use fat stores as its next source of fuel, allowing for a greater amount of actual fat being burned.

The key to this being successful seems to be that the intensity level of the exercise stays in the low to moderate range. When your body exercises at a low intensity, it uses more fat than carbohydrate.

Cons: Opponents say you’re burning less calories and that it’s a recipe for muscle wasting.

Because the work is easier, you’re not burning as many overall calories so you’d have to work for a longer period of time than if you were training hard. You shouldn’t run sprints or do some other high-intensity exercise as the lack of glycogen in your system wouldn’t allow for it. This makes it a definite no-no if you’re training for a race, endurance event, etc. It’s also said that all fasted cardio manages to do is burn off muscle, rather than fat.

My take is that like most things, there are no absolutes. If you spend some time looking, there are studies to support both theories.

The bottom line for me? I train with a team of the most perfect bodies in the world and most do some form of fasted cardio or another first thing in morning. That’s good enough to convince me …when done properly and depending on your goals, of course!

How’s that for a clear as mud answer?

Click to read more on this subject!

2013 event schedule and winter running tips courtesy of #RunningRoom

1. Adjust the intensity of your workout.
2. Keep your head covered and your hands and feet warm as a significant amount of our heat loss comes from our extremities.
3. Warm up properly, start your runs at a comfortable pace and slowly build up the pace to a pace slower than your normal training pace.
4. Shorten your stride to improve your footing on icy roads. Wear Ice Grips over the soles of your shoes for greater traction.
5. Carry your cellphone and carry cab fare in your pocket.
6. Wind chill does not measure temperature; it measures the rate of cooling. On a day with high wind chill, prepare for the wind.
7. Run into the wind for the first part of your run and with the wind on the return portion.
8. When running by yourself, run in a loop in case you need to cut the run short.
9. On your first few runs on snow or ice, you may experience slight muscle soreness in the legs. That is because your supporting muscles are working harder to control your balance on the slippery surface.
10. Cover all exposed skin. If you or your running partner have exposed skin, be aware of each other to prevent frostbite.
11. In the winter it’s dark, so wear reflective gear and run facing the traffic in order to be more visible.
12. Mittens are warmer than gloves.
13. Drink water on any run over 45 minutes.
14. Use a lip protector (like a lip balm such as ChapStick) or Body Glide on your lips, nose and ears.
15. Gentlemen, wear a wind brief.
16. Do speed work indoors on dry surfaces.
17. Be aware of hypothermia for both yourself and those running with you. Hypothermia is a drop in your core body temperature. Signs of hypothermia include incoherent, slurred speech, clumsy fingers and poor coordination. At the first sign, get to a warm, dry place and seek medical attention. You are more likely to experience difficulty on a wet and windy day.
18. Do not accelerate or decelerate quickly in the cold weather.
19. Make sure your changes in direction are gradual to avoid slipping or pulling muscles that are not properly warmed up.
20. Freezing your lungs is just not possible. The air is sufficiently warmed by the body prior to entering the lungs. If you find the cold air uncomfortable, wear a face mask; it will help warm the air.
21. Wear a single pair of thermal socks to stay warm.
22. Take your wet clothes off and get dry ones on as soon as possible.
23. Wear your water bottle under your jacket to keep it from freezing.
24. Review runner safety. Safety is even more important in the winter with less light and far more ice and other obstacles on the running paths and roads.

With the temperatures such as they are I wanted to point out a few simple rules to keep in mind if you are going out in this weather.

First, if it is -30°C (-22°F) or colder, you do not have to be a hero. Find an alternative to running outside. This could be a great day for cross-training.

1. Wear three layers: base layer, insulating layer and windproof shell. Some clothing is quite efficient, such as Fit-Wear, and if you have this then two layers will suffice.

2. Do not expose too much skin. Keep all extremities covered, i.e., ears, hands, wrists, ankles and neck. Your respiratory area (nose and mouth) will stay warm because of the breathing business going on.

3. Apply Bodyglide or another type of body lubricant to any exposed skin to help protect it from the wind and drying effects of the cold.

4. Run in small loops close to your home base. If you find it is getting unbearable, you will not be too far away from shelter.

5. Bring cab fare, cell phone and I.D.

6. Tell someone where you are going (route map) and give that person an idea of your approximate time of arrival.

7. If you start to detect frostbite, seek shelter immediately and warm up. Do not stay out any longer.

2013 Running Room Event Schedule Calgary Alberta

I tried and conquered the four-minute workout.

thumbs up for Tabata workoutsAs promised, I tried the four-minute workout this morning. Here is my take on it.

  1. You will definitely sweat. Be ready to sweat! I can guarantee if you go at full-out intensity you’ll be dripping by the end of it. Yahoo!
  2. You must be coordinated. So some of the workouts require different positions, make sure you know them ahead of time. You want to perform safely!
  3. You must be organized. Using an app helps here. But know the order of your Tabatas.
  4. You must let go of all self-consciousness. Don’t worry about people staring at you.  Who cares? Haters gonna hate. LOL.
  5. Don’t quit your regular cardio. As great as a four-minute workout is, it does not replace regular cardio (and the benefits from it).

Last night I got busy preparing to try out the four minute workout (aka TABATA workout). I read somewhere online that there are a few apps, so I downloaded one (wasn’t that impressive, can’t believe I paid for it.) At any rate, I set it up on my phone for todays workout and hit the hey. I didn’t make it to the gym this morning because it was too snowy, but the beauty of this workout is that you don’t need any equipment (save your gym clothes + sneaks.) So as soon as I got up, I got ready and hit start button on the app. It kept track of 5 second prep time, 20 seconds of workout and 10 seconds of rest, I just wish it would have had coaching on there so I wouldn’t have to keep referencing a print-out. You know what I mean? Eg: TABATA One: Jumping Jacks. REST. TABATA Two: Mountain Climbers. REST. etc.

At any rate, part way through I was mocked by the peanut gallery wondering what in the heck I was doing. I was informed of how silly I looked (like I really cared.) And also told it wouldn’t replace cardio. Duh. So that’s really the only other point I wanted to make. The TABATA workout was a terrific change of pace and I think it could be a really good challenge. With that said, it DOES NOT replace cardio. The guidelines published by the American College of Sports Medicine suggest 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise 5 days a week, or vigorous cardio 20 minutes a day, 3 days a week. Doing a four-minute workout every day isn’t enough. And if you want to reduce your risk of heart disease,there’s no way around it, you’ve got to incorporate a large dose of cardio into your everyday life.

Seriously? A four-minute work out, you must be full of sh…

Four Minute TABATA WorkoutAlright – so lately I’ve seen several posts on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest about “four-minute workouts.” I thought it must be bollocks because I’ve always been under the impression that to get the best results you need slow, controlled movements. So I started to dig in a little deeper to learn more about these work outs and came across loads of articles about TABATA (which is what these four-minute workouts are modelled after.)

Am I the only one living in the dark-ages? How come I’ve never heard of this little gem before now?

Background:

“Tabata” is the name of a particular type of workout program that provides similar health benefits to cardio workouts, but it’s a little more challenging in a sense. Instead of spending 45 minutes to an hour on cardio, Tabata can be completed in just four (4) minutes!!!! This type of training falls under the category of high intensity training or high intensity interval training.

History: (from tabatatraining.org):

Tabata was founded by a Japanese scientist named Izumi Tabata and fellow colleagues at a department of physiology in Japan. Izumi and his fellow scientists decided to conduct a study to compare moderate intensity training with high intensity training.

He conducted the tests on 2 groups of athletes; 1 of the groups used the moderate intensity interval training and the other using high intensity interval training.

In group one; the athletes were training in moderate intensity workouts (70% intensity) for five days a week for a total of six weeks with each training session lasting an hour.

Group two trained in the high intensity workouts for 4 days a week for a total of 6 weeks with each session lasting 4 minutes, at 20 seconds of intense training (170% intensity) and 10 seconds of rest.

Apparently, most people do not complete this correctly so the results vary. So saying that it’s more effective than running thirty minutes may be outlandish for one person and not the next. So because I’m still not totally convinced that it would feel like exercising, I decided to try it out tomorrow at the gym – why not, eh? I’ll report back tomorrow. Hope I don’t embarrass myself!

Here is the workout from FitSugar.com:

Download PDF here.

TABATA WorkOut