Get a Runner Sick and You’ve Got He** Coming Your Way

There are few things that peeve me more than getting sick, and I know I’m not the only runner who thinks this. Because, let’s be honest, worse than the perma-snot train, the bowels of fury, the curled fetal position around the Porcelain King is the fact that getting sick throws a monkey wrench into our training. Isn’t that the end-all of everything for a runner, heaven forbid our runs get impeded upon?! 😉
sick runner
I’m sick. I denied it at first, but when it starts feeling like my body is trying to kill me I guess I can’t run from the obvious anymore. The first thing all us OCD runners need to channel our neurosis towards is AVOIDING getting sick:

* Rinse, repeat: I admit to be a big hand-washer any time my hands are going to touch food, my plates, or anything going into my mouth. I really do attribute this neurosis to helping me stave off getting sick more than I would.

* Dirty Gyms: Gyms and fitness equipment that people share are about the dirtiest places and things in the world. Think about the amount of bodily fluids floating and spraying around those places…yoga mats, they are the same on both ends, so unroll that sucker and you have about a 99.9% chance of laying your head where someone’s butt went. 😉 Use those sani-wipes and sprays before you use things.

* Distance: “I love you but you’re sick,” it’s really nothing personal when you tell your friends and family members (yes, even a spouse or lovey-dovey buddy) to kindly keep their distance when they are infected. Just explain you’re a runner, I mean we’re weird enough in general that that should cover the explanation.

kiss a runner

So, this time how about don’t kiss me…but I love you anyways. 😉

But even then us runners DO get sick. The rule of whether to run through a sickness or not:

If it’s something from the neck up you’re good to get your miles fix on, if it’s below the neck think twice and rest may be best


You really have to weight the pro’s and con’s with sicknesses below the neck:

Will a few extra days of doing jack crap and resting actually get you over the cold and back to training FASTER than running through something, prolonging the string of ‘half-@$$ed, crummy runs’ and then potentially making it worse so that you then have to inevitably take a much longer time off resting?

Making decisions like these, not unlike debating whether to run through a new ache or pain and wondering if it’s an injury, are things that define a mature runner. Runners are constantly forcing themselves to run through the pain and discomfort and ‘suck it up’, which is a good thing because you’ve got to be tough for workouts and races. BUT there is a fine line between being so numb and ‘stupid’ that you start to ignore obvious signals that you’re running through the ‘wrong’ kind of tired. [Actually, the ever-awesome Kate @ Run With Kate did a kick-butt post on debating this sickness and running thing HERE!]

To run through sickness or not to run? That may be one question. Though, the answer to this question is always the same: What should be the punishment to those who infect a runner with a dirty, stinky, nasty, cold that messes with their miles fix?

Answer: Severe.

1) What are some things you do to avoid getting sick? Do you get more hyper-conscioud of germs during certain points of your training and racing seasons?

2) How do you decide whether to run through a cold or not?
Honesty time, sometimes I run even if I were coaching someone in ‘my state’ and I’d tell them to take a rest day. That said, I’m not training for something and the mental sanity retained from even a baby run is worth it to me. That said, if I’ve barfed or am super drained I cede victory to the sickness and coach-surf.

3) What should the punishment be for infecting a runner?

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26 thoughts on “Get a Runner Sick and You’ve Got He** Coming Your Way

  1. Aw…sorry you are sick – that sucks!!!
    I’m the same way – someone sick please don’t come over – we’ll catch you next time!!
    I also have a strict no-sharing policy in our house. We don’t drink out of the same cups or finish each other’s food – I think it cuts down on the spread of any illness!!!
    Feel better soon!!!

  2. :=( I hope you are feeling better soon! For someone who is sick you are still at your best Art and writing wise. I too lurrrrrve that cartoon!

    Infecting a runner is the WORST. We should be considered with care like children, the elderly and pregnant woman! I am like you and a bit crazy with cleaning my hands. I have hand gel in pretty much every room of the house… totally OCD – I know!

  3. Yeah…throwing up is usually a bad sign! I’m sorry you aren’t well, birthday girl. Did you run in the end?

    For a cold, I go out for a light run and see how I feel as I go.

    And punishment has to be 10km tempo for a non-runner, and rest days for all the days the sickie missed.

    And thank you so much for linking up!

  4. Aw, being sick is no fun – feel better!

    I’m getting over a cold right now too. It seems like everyone has some sort of illness this time of year. If it’s just a head cold and isn’t too bad, I’ll still run. If it’s in the chest or it’s the flu, I rest.

  5. I can’t speak to running (yet) but I almost stick to those rules for lifting. Why only almost…I get migraines so that means no ability to function. I also suffer from unexplained nausea and fevers so unless I actually see chunks, I just ignore it and workout. A tradeoff for the migraines I suppose. 🙂

  6. iiiiiiiick, just thinking about the dirty gym equipment right now..yikes, yikes. haha!

    I generally follow the rule about feeling sick head-up and it being OK to exercise/run a little.
    if i’m all-body fatigued, I’ll just give it a rest..but you’re just so right, it’s mentally hard to take days off working out because you’re sick – I need that high!

  7. Yep. Severe punishment. I even threatened my own mother, no I’m not proud of this fact, but she had it coming when she brought the stomach bug into the house.
    The universe had its own plan for me though, and I now have a minor, very minor, cold which means I will be sniffling my way through the half on Sunday. No complaining though 🙂 I am starting to look forward to the race and it should be a beautiful day in some of the prettiest scenery in Australia 🙂
    Plus, I’ve got Mama Chickpea as support crew 🙂

    • oh NO!!! i’m sorry u got the touch of the cold BUT awesome perspective, girl! just go out there and have fun on the day…be flexible with watever the time ends up, and just run for effort. i kno u’ll be rocking regardless, and i’m cheering like CRAZY for u too!!

  8. Feel better! Ugh, I’m thinking about the gym mats that I stretch on right now, sometimes with my nose almost on the ground.
    I despise getting sick way more than a normal person and I’m pretty sure it’s because I know I’ll have to miss training. However, I’m way better about taking time off when I’m sick then when I have an incoming injury.

    • i think us fitness folk should be more exempt from getting sick than ‘regular folk’…like a 30/70 split…i mean we NEED our bodies more! 😉

  9. I’m sorry you are sick! I hating being sick because it means I can’t run. I have tried to run through sickness before and it back fires. So when I get sick, I rest, repeat, and rest some more til I feel better.
    Get well soon!

  10. haha, ohhh this was me last week!! so sick, and so unhappy about it!
    I try to wash my hands a lot at work, eat a lot of vitamin-licious foods, and take a multi-V.
    I spent the entire first week of this new year battling a nasty flu…and looking for whoever gave it to me to battle with them! 🙂
    I definitely MAD about cutting my mileage back…(4-weeks out from a marathon) I have to be dizzy not to run 🙂
    I hope your week is going great!

    • oh no!!! ugh, i hope u’re feeling better and i guess the only ‘good thing’ i can say is thank GOODNESS it came after CIM!!! but regardless, let’s hunt down that fool that got u sick. 😉

  11. I will never touch my face or anything involving food without washing my hands first. If I hear someone sneeze nearby, I am not shy – I will step back and cover my nose and mouth to keep from breathing in what they’ve sprayed. Given I work with children, I am forever reminding them about personal space, to cover their mouths, wash their hands, etc. Occupational hazards. Sigh.

    Last winter, I got slammed with illness, taking me out of the game for nearly three weeks. I followed the “above the neck” rule, too, and when I finally got back out there, it was rough but so much better than being bed/couch ridden. To get through it, I remind myself the road will always be there, and resting now gets me back out there faster.

    Love the artwork! You are so talented. 🙂

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