Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Running with a Cold

All the experts agree (or, to put it another way, I read this somewhere on the Internet) that it's OK to go running when you have a cold as long as the cold is above the neck. 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. So they say.

Regular readers of this blog will know that up to now I have ignored this rule. Basically I have taken the first hint of a cold as an excuse to go into hibernation for two weeks, avoid all kinds of physical activity during that time, and to write self-pitying blog posts about the severity of my Man Cold.

But not this time. I have a whole new attitude to exercise, thanks to my reaction to my pathetic, dismal, wimpish performance at the Laser Masters Worlds this year. Consistency is my watch word. If I say I am going to go running three times a week, then I damn well am going to go running three times a week.

About 10 days ago I felt the first signs of an impending cold. Probably picked it up from one of my darling grandchildren. At any one time it seems that at least one of them has a runny nose, a sneeze or a cough.

So I checked the location of the symptoms in relation to my neck (above - OK) and went for a run.

A couple of days later the symptoms were worse. I definitely had a cold now. Check location of symptoms in relation to neck. Tick. Go for a run.

Over Thanksgiving the symptoms got worser and worser. But still not below neck. Tick. Went for a run on Sunday.

All the experts agree (or, to put it another way, I read this somewhere on the Internet) that even if running won't make your cold any worse, it won't make it any better either. But I feel better than I usually do when I have a cold. Why would that be? Is this some mild girly cold virus and not a fully fledged Man Cold Virus? Or do I feel better psychologically because I am still getting out in the fresh air for a run several times a week instead of sitting inside writing self-pitying blog posts about my Man Cold? Or is the cold waiting its time to show me its true awful Man Cold nature?

What about you? Do you still exercise when you have a cold? Do you think it is beneficial?


Anonymous said...

Running with a mild cold seems to not bother me too much, I am a bit allergic to our lovely Burmese cat so sniffles are a common occurrence.

I don't run our bike when I feel that weird feeling that your skin is not yours but some alien's, or when there is snow or ice, in which case I swim our spin. Don't know about you, running on a treadmill doesn't work for me.

Hope you feel better,

Sam Chapin said...

Running should increase your dopamine like hormones that give you the "runners high" and make you feel better. Maybe "happy pneumonia" and die with a smile.

Mojo said...

For many years I have worked out almost daily, at times (of course) afflicted with various maladies. While I hate skipping workouts, my advice with respect to a Man Cold, particularly one that comes on strongly, is to take 2-3 days off at the outset and get a little extra rest to fortify yourself. Then, once it has settled in (whether above the neck or below), you can start working your way back, maybe at a lighter pace initially. At that point the return to daily exercise does tend to make me feel a little better, if for nothing else than getting the blood circulating and sleeping more easily.

And yes, there is also the psychological benefit of not feeling like a girlie man, as Arnold might say.

JP said...

I'm on the rest side - conserve the body's energy to fight the bug.

Could be wrong of course.

Dennis @ Marine Electronics said...

I listened to a show on NPR about this very topic. As it turns out if you exercise regularly you are less likely to catch a cold. And when you do catch a cold you will get over it faster. But you won't catch me trying to run when I can't breath through my nose or spend much of my energy coughing.

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