How To Return To Running After Sickness

Rear view of young woman standing on an empty road getting ready for a run. Sporty woman ready for her morning workout.

If you’re recovering from a sickness and would love to start running again, then you have come to the right place.

Whether you’re returning to running after a mild cold or a serious chronic disease, running can help your body heal faster and feel better.

However, there are many measures you need to take if you want to start running again without suffering a setback, as getting sick, making things worse. That’s where today’s post comes in handy.

Before you start logging the miles again after being sick, consider the following guidelines.

What’s The Ideal Time To Start Running Again After Illness?

The best answer I can come up with is to Wait.

Wait until you’re symptom-free.

Wait until you have gained some energy.

Wait until you feel back to normal.

Wait until you can have no doubts that you can do.

Yes, the keyword is wait.

For example, if you’re nursing a serious respiratory illness, consider waiting at least a couple of weeks of being symptoms-free before you exercising again.

And whatever you do, avoid running when you have a serious fever.

Your body temperature is already soaring, and running will not only make it higher but also dehydrate your body. This can, without a doubt, make your symptoms worse.

Rest Up

As long as you’re not too sick, mild exercise can actually help with recovery, research shows.

In fact, you might find yourself feeling way better after moving around when you have got a mild cold.

But as a rule, take plenty of rest days before you do any type of intense running or exercise, especially if you got a serious case of the flu.

The Above Vs. Below Test

The nature, as well as the location, of your symptoms also matter when it comes to deciding if it’s time to start exercising again after falling ill.

As a general guideline, it’s ok to work out at an easy to mild pace when symptoms are above the neck, such as runny nose or sneezing, watery eyes, a mild sore throat, but have no fever

But avoid exercise, especially running, if you’re dealing with “below the neck” symptoms such as an upset stomach, chest congestion, muscle aches, or fever.

And remember that just because you feel much better now doesn’t mean that your body has fully recovered.

Check Yourself

Once you feel ready to take up running again, assess your body.

For starters, your normal resting heartbeat should be back to normal. That’s a good sign that you’re most likely ready to start running again.

You should also check your breathing. If you’re panting for air after going up a flight of stairs, then your body isn’t ready yet to start logging serious miles.

Re-Start Slow

Don’t try to re-start from your previous high mileage.  Instead, your first few sessions after being sick should be kept at an easy and conversational pace.

If you feel all well and good, then steadily increase mileage and intensity as you go.

Adopt a beginner mind and change up your running routines for a few days, even weeks.

Once you do a few easy runs, then you can slowly build back to your pre-illness training volume.

What’s more?

Avoid trying to make up for missed runs right away. Doing this may lead to more sickness, overtraining, or injury.

Shapely and athletic girl runs on a sunny day outside

Remember to Take Recovery Days

Fallow each running day by a rest day.

More than likely, your recovering body will need more time than usual to recover from a workout.

So you shouldn’t be too hard at the beginning. Listen to your body and act accordingly.

What’s more?

Keep track of your perceived effort and heart rate. If these are higher than normal during your first few workouts, scale back or take more recovery. It’s always better to err on the side of caution.

As soon as you feel back to normal, you can push the pace and the duration of your runs.

Be Careful

Pay attention to what your body is telling you. If your symptoms are creeping back again or you don’t feel back full capacity, rest up until you feel better.

Keep in mind that your health and well-being are much more important than a few days off the training wagon.

Here’s the truth. Your body might be already taxed in fighting the illness, so adding more extra stress through intense miles is counterproductive.

In fact, hard exercise, especially a high-impact sport like running, may negate your immune system, allowing for illness to get worse.

This is especially the case when you run in hot weather and/or don’t address your hydration needs the right way.

Again don’t take my word for it. Research has reported that long hard workouts can compromise immunity for up to nine hours. That’s quite a long time.

Eat Well

Remember to eat well. Make sure your diet is well balanced, and drink plenty of liquids.

Vegetables and fruits are the way to go. You should also drink lots of broths and soups.

Take Medication

Don’t start running again if you’re still completing a course of medication, whether it’s over the counter or prescription. In doubt, consult your doctor on what to do. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Do not restart your running routine until you’ve completed any over-the-counter medication or prescription medicine.

What’s more?

Keep in mind that some medication can affect your performance. Some may make you lethargic, which can compromise your cognitive abilities. In fact, research reports that some antibiotics may cause tendon rupture during exercise. Be wary.


I hope today’s article has helped answer how soon you can get to running after being sick.

Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.

In the meantime thank you for dropping by.

Keep Running Strong.

David D.