The Sick Runner

This weekend, an annual event fell upon the great state of Tennessee so anticipated it rivals that of Black Friday: Tax-Free Weekend. Or, for my fellow retail associates – FML weekend. Patrons crowd the mall to save the confounded 9.43% sales tax (the highest in the nation) on various wares and if you want to even try to get into the Apple store during this time, think again.

My second job is the one I had all through college and stayed on upon obtaining a full time job to pay for the additional expense that is my wardrobe (don’t judge me). Unfortunately, during really special times of the year, such as tax-free weekend, I often get scheduled both Saturday and Sunday which ultimately leaves me working 12 days straight.  As a result, one trying to overcome an illness has a hard time giving in to the need to rest and slurp soup and instead runs around like a crazy person, double espresso in hand, trying not to sneeze or cough on anyone.

Due to time constraints from said job duties as well as sheer laziness, I took advantage of my little cold and excused myself from running for the past week. It’s sad really that if given a legitimate reason (illness, injury, Olympic coverage, dinner invitations) I will  cancel my running plans immediately with only the slightest feeling of remorse. Of course, the inevitable Runner’s Guilt  rears its ugly head the following day and I ultimately feel like a lazy slug until the cycle inevitably repeats itself (what can I say? My determination is mediocre at best sometimes). This is why getting my sorry ass out of bed in the morning is so important – not only is it actually cool enough to run, I rarely have a good reason to not to and manage to get it out of the way. Unless of course, I am sick. Which leads me to question: If I feel like this:

should I be doing this?

I’m not talking flu sick. If you have a fever and/or are vomiting and the like – for the love of God, do everyone a favor and take the day off. That’s just stupid. I’m talking  the  stuffy, cough-y, sore throat-y signs of a good, old-fashioned, gunky cold.

So I did some research (aka Googled the hell out of it) and this is what I came up with:

Sicko Running Rules:

1. Follow the “Neck Rule“. If its above your neck (runny nose, stuffiness) you technically are good to go without any risk of worsening your condition. If your symptoms are below the neck (chest cold, body ache) you should take a few days off to avoid the risk of exacerbating the illness.

2. “If it’s in your chest, you must rest.” Again, if you can’t breath without hacking up who knows what, do you really think you should be running? (

3. If you decide to run, try not to take any medications before doing so.  Most cold medicines, with the exception of the intoxicating Ny-Quil, increase your heart rate. Do the math. (

4. If you think you are so awesome that you just cannot stay inside, at least be aware of your body. If you get dizzy or nauseous, stop. You will die. I’M KIDDING! But you could really end up doing more damage then good and you don’t want to be out longer then anticipated. (

Here’s my take. If you don’t feel like you can run without being completely miserable, then don’t. Take a few days off – it’s not going to ruin you. Yes, I’m probably taking advantage of my sickness and most definitely could have gotten up this morning and put out a good 5 miles. But I didn’t because I covet my rest and frankly, I’m OK with that. Of course the runner’s guilt is already setting in but as I sit here blowing my nose and coughing up crud, I know my body is silently thanking me.

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