How to Handle ‘Bug Season’


By Megan Cox

I hate bugs. Eight-legged ones. Six-legged ones. Slimy ones. Crunchy ones. They are gross and prehistoric looking, and I don’t want them anywhere near me.

However, the type of bugs I hate the most, especially as we head into fall, are the bugs you can’t see. Yet you know they’re out there. You know it because your preschooler brings them home in her snot.

Yes, I have succumbed to my first cold of the season. The doctors call it common for a reason! First the toddler gets it, then the baby, and then me. Somehow the hubby managed to bypass it, and I’m sure it has something to do with using incantations and holy water, but if so, he’s not coughing up his secret. Pun intended.

So what can I do but trudge on with my runny nose, stuffy head, and a voice that’s dropped a few octaves? The baby still has to be fed, the toddler still has to be kept busy, and my books don’t write themselves. Oh yeah—and that half-marathon-training thingy I’m doing. That’s go to get done too.

I’ve always been the type to keep up a light workout schedule when my illness allows it. Feeling under the weather makes me blue, and exercise, especially running, lifts my spirits. But as my family continues to fight the crud, I’m wondering what the experts advise about training for races when your body’s condition (especially in the respiratory department), is less than ideal.

Enter Google. Oh how I love him! So forthcoming and informative. Sure you’ve got to dig for the good stuff—it’s like one of my mom’s stories (“Just get to the point!!!!”), but Google is oh-so-useful.

Here’s a few tidbits he threw my way:

  • From “Should You Run While You’re Sick?” on runnersworld.com, David Nieman (Ph.D.) suggests using the neck rule. That is, “Symptoms below the neck (chest cold, bronchial infection, body ache) require time off, while symptoms above the neck (runny nose, stuffiness, sneezing) don’t pose a risk to runners continuing workouts.” Even so, proceed with extreme caution whenever you are suffering from any illness.
  • According to marathonguide.com’s “To Run or Not to Run… What to Do When You’re Sick,” you should monitor your symptoms closely, especially for dizziness or profuse sweating. However, running can have a head clearing affect because it releases adrenaline, which is a natural decongestant. The article also provides a list of helpful preventative methods for keeping a cold away in the first place.
  • And from “Running While Sick,” on livestrong.com, DO NOT run with a fever. Not only does exercising raise your temperature, but “during a fever, your body releases chemicals that break down muscle protein to fight the illness. These chemicals also prevent muscle repair and building, making it almost impossible to build muscle.”

I guess it’s good to proceed with caution. Training for any race is important and fulfilling work, but no exercise is worth putting my body in danger. And taking a day off won’t derail my training program. If anything, it just makes me a little more eager for the next run!

This is a guest post by Megan Cox, an Oklahoma City-based novelist, writer and contributing blogger for HalfMarathons.Net. Learn more about Megan at her website.

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