Can I Run With a Cold?

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It never fails that as soon as you've found yourself in a running groove or your training is going really well, you find yourself sniffing, sneezing, and not feeling so great. So do you need to hang up your running shoes for a few days? Well, it depends on your symptoms.

Follow the 'Above/Below Neck' Rule

When deciding whether you should run with a cold, use the above/below the neck rule. If your symptoms are above the neck (runny nose, sneezing, sore throat) then, yes, you can run. Just take it easy and don't do any intense workouts. Be sure to be aware of any symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, or profuse (unusual, not due to exertion or heat) sweating. You should stop running immediately if you notice any of these symptoms.

If your symptoms are below the neck (chest congestion, intense coughing, vomiting, diarrhea), let your illness run its course before you start running again. Running under those conditions increases dehydration and may lead to even more serious issues. You also should never run if you have a high fever.

If your doctor advises you not to run, definitely follow his or her advice. If you're training for a race, keep in mind that a week of missed runs is not going to have a serious effect on your race preparation. But if you try to force some runs when you're too sick to be running, you could end up feeling worse and prolong your illness.

Take off the next few days until you're feeling better. You won't lose much fitness and you'll be back where you left off in no time. If you're dealing with an illness that keeps you from running for two weeks or more, find out what to do when you take a break from running.

To prevent catching a cold in the first place, wash your hands frequently, get plenty of sleep, and follow these other cold prevention tips.

If you think you may actually be suffering from seasonal allergies, not a cold, follow these tips to see how you can continue running.