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Running column: Can you still train even if you’ve got a cold?

Mark Armstrong on a training run in Long Stratton. Picture: Alison Armstrong Photography

Mark Armstrong on a training run in Long Stratton. Picture: Alison Armstrong Photography

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An X was put on the Armstrong household this week.

My daughter and I have been struck down by the dreaded man-flu and only my wife remains unaffected – pray for her.

Having a child means you get used to illnesses being brought home regularly. It’s actually a long-running joke in my office that whenever I feel under the weather that I blame my daughter, Lara.

Hopefully other parents would back me up in saying that one of the unwanted side effects of having children is getting ill…a lot.

I’ve mentioned before that Lara has a penchant for licking my face when she gets over-excited. It was therefore not a massive surprise when she passed on her latest sniffle to me.

MORE: Why parkrun is a great introduction to running

I started to feel a little below par on Saturday night but I had it in my mind that I was going to go for a 10k training run the following day.

Upon waking up with a heavy head and a sore throat on Sunday I thought the sensible thing was to shorten my run to a gentle 5k, just to keep the legs ticking over.

It wasn’t.

The sensible thing would have been to give my body a couple of days to fight off the illness before resuming my training.

Instead I struggled around Long Stratton for the best part of half an hour to ease my running conscience. It was silly…and I should know better.

All I succeeded in doing was putting further stress on my immune system and prolonged the period when I wouldn’t be able to get some good quality training in.

I felt better initially but once the adrenaline had gone all I was left with was a very stuffy nose and some very achy limbs.

There is some debate amongst the running community if it’s still okay to go for a run if you’ve got a cold.

Some say anything from the throat upwards should mean that you’re okay to run and could actually ease any congestion. If you’re feeling achy and altogether unwell then it can be dangerous to put further stress on your body with any sort of exercise.

My experience has taught me that it can be a lot more straightforward.

MORE: I didn’t want to do the Trowse 10k but I’m so glad I did

If you’re carrying any sort of illness or virus then skip the training run – it’s not worth it.

You’re not going to get a good quality session in whilst running when you’re under the weather.

It takes 10 days to lose any significant amount of fitness and all being well you should be able to shake off most viruses during that time.

But my tale of woe demonstrates that sometimes runners make bad decisions. You can love running a little too much and ironically your love of it can actually keep you off the road longer. The same applies to running with an injury.

If I am to take one positive from the last week it is that I realised that whenever I’m ill I’m a lot more tuned in to what I’m actually putting in to my body.

Suddenly I ensure I’m getting my five fruit and vegetables a day and I perhaps don’t have that beer on a school night.

I know I should adopt this sort of dietary discipline when I am feeling okay – my training would certainly benefit.

So here’s to hoping that I’m back out on the road soon…but not before I’m feeling a lot better!

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