Running with a cold – when should I REST? Here’s my 5 step guide.

running with a cold, when should I rest

28 Nov Running with a cold – when should I REST? Here’s my 5 step guide.

T’is the season… For a large number of the population to venture out of their homes, slightly drowsy from the dose of cold medicine with a pocket full of tissues and a lack of rest.

It’s pretty grim, and when you’ve got running events to train for, frankly its a royal pain in the backside.

And its this added pressure of needing to run that puts many of us into a predicament:


Should I run through a cold or should I put my feet up and pop on Netflix.


Or as I have been doing recently… Catching up on Blue Planet II.

running with a cold, when should I rest

There was always this saying:

“Above the neck, carry on training. Below the neck stop” or words to that effect.

Which, kinda makes sense.


Anything restricting your breathing, then obviously stop.

A runny nose… then you should be fine.

But for some of us it can be a little more complex. And thats not taking into consideration how much you knock back your immune system when you carry on training, potentially lengthening the time you are ill for.

I’m speaking from previous experience and current experience too. So there is just a small sample in this study, but I can guarantee I’ll have at least one or two sniffles each year.


So when your nose starts running… What should we be doing?


  1. Test it.

    Start with an easy run early on when symptoms start. For me last week, I felt pretty run down. A sore throat and tiredness. I was also recovering from a half marathon, so I decided to take a couple of days away from running and stick to cycling and doing some easier workouts.

    If you feel good in this testing phase, then you should be fine to keep on going.

    A test can be as little as a 5 minute run, but the important thing is to keep it feeling VERY easy. We don’t want to add any more stress to the body.

    If things don’t feel great, which is where I am right now… Progress to step 2…

    If things feel ok – then keep running, but LOW intensity sessions, don’t try any hard interval sessions or tempo runs, these will batter the body and will cause unnecessary stress your body doesn’t need.

  2. Rest.

    No brainer right?

    But it’s astounding how many people point blank refuse to stop. If the body isn’t willing, then it needs time to recover, and it will give you all the signs you need.

    Sniffly nose, achy body, sore throat, headaches, tiredness to name a few. If you are still seeing these types of symptoms, then you are NOT weak for wanting to rest. Your body is giving you some real signs.

    Once you’ve convinced yourself you need some rest, head to step 3.

  3. Plan.

    I wouldn’t be right if I didn’t squeeze this magic word in here somewhere. But planning your return is probably the most important element of this process now.

    Don’t for one moment think that because your symptoms have now gone that you can head right back to your normal training regime.

    The intensity of your training (how hard) and the volume (how much time) will need turning down to facilitate your return. You might feel fine, but the body will still be recovering.

    How long? Personally I have no idea, but I’m giving myself a week after returning to get slowly back into the swing of things again, I might need longer, I might need less but at this stage I’ll play things one day at a time.

    Yes, it might mean a 1-2 week hit on your newly planned out marathon plan (for example) but the rest now is better than 4 weeks of junk mileage where you try running hard but the body isn’t really willing.

  4. Action.

    Once you have your plan, it’s time to action it. To begin with, keep all runs low intensity. So no intervals, tempos or long runs (these are all relative to you).

    You are going to feel like you are “losing” fitness. It’ll feel like its the wrong thing to do as you need to pick up your running again quickly because there is an event coming up soon.

    But, accept that a little bit of fitness will have gone. If nothing else it’s a cracking excuse for that next event… 😉

Once you are back into the swing of things again, it’s time to focus back on things that can keep you healthy.

I know I had a mini binge after my Half Marathon, rubbish food, not focusing on drinking enough water and neglecting fruit and vegetables.


I know I did wrong – this is my confession. Whether that would have made a huge difference and affected how I feel now, I honestly couldn’t tell you. But in myself I know that it most likely would have.

So, stage 5, for me personally is implementing some of my old habits again, keeping the diet healthy and me on track – luckily for me I live with the creator of The Lean Runner 90 program so I can get back on track sooner rather than later.



Coach Ant

P.S. please give this a like/share using the buttons below and tag a runner who is currently ill and soaking up the sympathy! 😷🤧






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