How should I adjust my training program when I am sick?
I have dealt with hundreds of marathon runners and most of them have a hard time “taking it easy,” even when they are sick. Listening to your body is the most important thing that a marathon runner can do. For example, if you get sick with the flu, it is best to take a few days off from training so that your body can fully recuperate. Over extending yourself during an illness can prolong and worsen your symptoms, affecting your training program for a longer time.
With that said, there are a few rules to follow when a runner is sick with cold and flu like symptoms:
First, if you have a fever, do not run. Simply take it easy.
If you do not have a fever, consider your symptoms. If they are from the neck up you may continue your runs but adjust the intensity so that you do not over do it.
If your symptoms are below the neck, you should stop your training program and rest. When you are feeling better and are free of symptoms, you may begin running a modified program. Typically, the number of days you were ill should be the number of days you use to get back into your program.
How can I prevent physical setbacks?
Of course, the best thing to do is prevent any injuries from occurring as best as possible. To do so, ALWAYS warm-up before runs and cool-down afterwards. Proper equipment is crucial to a healthy running program. Replace running shoes every 6 months or every 500 miles.
If I do injure myself how can I get back on schedule to reach my goal of finishing the marathon?
When considering your health remember “the sooner, the better” and “better later than never.” At the first sign of pain, contact a physician specializing in sports medicine for an evaluation.
Often injured runners come into my office thinking that I will instruct them to stop training and give up their goal of running the marathon. However, in the majority of cases the opposite is true. With stretching, strengthening and physical therapy, we are often able to better manage old and current injuries while preventing new ones so that most of my marathon patients are able to run the race and achieve their goals.