Running with Bronchitis or Respiratory Illness

Lot's of RRKC runners are down and out with bronchitis and it has prompted questions from many of you, "should I run when I am sick? And when can I start running again?"

If your symptoms are at the neck or above such as sore throat, sneezing or headache, it is usually OK to run. But symptoms below the neck with body chills, aches and fatigue is a no-no. Dr. Jeff Waters, weighs in on the topic, "running when ill produces more stress to your body if you are already cranking out immune cells, antibodies, and cortisol to get rid of some pesky put yourself at risk for heat related illness and are impairing your body’s immune reactions."

If you've got a nasty below the neck germ, take the week to stay hydrated, rest, get at least 8 hours of sleep a night and practice good nutrition. And I know what your thinking, a week of interrupted training isn't going to affect your race goals! 

So what about bronchitis? It is a nasty below the neck germ, so as long as you have taken the initial resting steps and you are starting to feel better, you can run with bronchitis . Running may stir up the coughing - usually afterwards, but sometimes during. If you have a coughing fit, you may have to stop and walk for a bit. Talk to your doctor about an inhaler (e.g. albuterol sulfate) that you use pre-run and carry with you on the run if you start hacking. 

In the cold, wear a light layer over your mouth - like a bandana, neck gator or equivalent to keep the cold out as it constricts the airways a bit. The cover will also add humidity. 

Start back with an easy 3-4 miles. If that goes well, then you can resume your training plan distances with easy effort. For your first long run back, I suggest cutting the out and back distance in half and doing it twice if you feel good. If it doesn't go well, you won't be stuck far from home base.  

Dr. Waters says, "There are some lines that should not be crossed if there is danger to the athlete.  These are best decided on a case by case basis." If you develop chest pain with breathing or a fever it's time to go to the doctor - you may be battling a bacterial infection or pneumonia.  

If you have any questions about returning to your running plan after illness, contact Coach Amy She can modify your schedule to keep you on target for your goals.

Listen to your body, be kind to it and run happy!