Winter season is cold season. Many runners often ask themselves the following questions: When can I exercise after a cold? And how do I do it without suffering a setback (i.e. getting sick again or injury)?
How Do You Get Back to Running After Being Sick?
Many runners try to make up for missed workouts right away, so they can pick up their training where they left off. But this is exactly what you shouldn’t do because it will only lead to sickness, injury and/or overtraining.
You can’t make up missed workouts.
What you should do instead is reorganize your training schedule if you want to exercise after being sick or get back to running after a cold.
Trying to pick up where you left off after a break of several days or even weeks would be too hard on your body. The risk of suffering a relapse is too high.
You need to make sure you fully recover from a cold before you start exercising or running again. If you’re not sure if it’s time yet, you should probably get your doctor’s approval before starting up again.
Returning to Running: 6 Tips for Exercising after a Cold
Everyone’s body reacts differently to training. So before you start running again or start the training plan below after being sick, you should consider these 6 tips for running after a cold.
1. Run the first few sessions slower and shorter
It’s better to err on the side of caution. If the first few sessions go well and you feel good, you can steadily increase the distance as you go.
2. Length of time you were sick = length of time you need to come back
Your body basically needs the same amount of time to reach your previous level of performance as it needed to recover from your cold.
3. Take time to recover
Every running day should be followed by a rest day. Your weakened body needs time to recover from the additional demands of running after a cold. This takes time, and you shouldn’t push yourself too hard at the beginning. Listen to your body on the rest days and don’t go running again until you feel 100% fit and healthy.
4. Use the time to work on your conditioning
Make sure to do some stretching and strengthening exercises as part of your comeback routine. These create a good basis and help build up your musculoskeletal system.
Here’s some of our members’ favorite workouts for you to try as you return to running or exercise after a cold:
5. Monitor your heart rate and your perceived effort
If your heart rate and perceived effort are higher than usual during your first sessions, then you should reduce the intensity of your training. An additional rest day without training might be a good idea. Only in this way can your body get used to the demands of exercising again after being sick. As soon as your body is reacting normally, you can increase the pace and the frequency of your workouts.
6. Give your body time
Depending on your age, gender and general level of fitness, your body requires different amounts of time to reach your previous level of performance.
Exercise After a Cold >> Training Plan to Get Back to Running
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Adapt the 10-Day Training Plan to Your Individual Needs
If you’ve been sick or had a cold and want to get back to exercise, the following scenarios can help you adapt the 10-day training plan to your individual needs:
Scenario 1: YOU FEEL PRETTY GOOD AND WOULD LIKE TO START TRAINING AGAIN, BUT YOU’RE STILL TAKING MEDICINE?
As long as you’re still taking medicine, your condition is probably worse than you think. Your body is still busy healing and can’t handle the additional stress of a workout. Make sure to get plenty of fluids and vitamins and give your body the time it needs to recover fully from being sick before you start running again.
Scenario 2: ON THE FIRST DAY AFTER YOUR COLD YOU FEEL 100% FIT AND HEALTHY AGAIN?
Wait at least three more days to start training. You can do some light stretching and bodyweight exercises to work on your conditioning. Just make sure to keep the intensity low and the workout short.
This 15-minute yoga-inspired recovery workout is perfect for this scenario!
Scenario 3: YOU WANT TO START TRAINING AGAIN, AND YOU FEEL COMPLETELY HEALTHY
Stick to doing some easy endurance runs and recovery workouts for the same period of time you were sick. Only after this slow comeback phase can you start to pick up the pace and really push your body again.
Until then, you can also take time to work on your running technique. Pro marathoner Philipp Pflieger has some great running technique drills for you to try.
Scenario 4: YOU HAVE FINISHED YOUR FIRST SESSION, AND AFTERWARD, YOU FEEL TIRED AND SLUGGISH AGAIN?
Note: If your body reacts this way to the first training session, it’s not healthy enough to start up again. Treat your body to one or two more rest days and then try to start again with the first training session.
Scenario 5: YOU HAVE COMPLETED THE 10-DAY TRAINING PLAN, AND YOU FEEL 100% FIT AND HEALTHY?
Now you can start training again in earnest and get back to your normal routine. High-intensity workouts and intervals should no longer pose a risk to your health.
We wish you a good start back to your running!