Returning to Running After Illness: Best Practices for a Quick and Safe Comeback - Live Slow Run Far

Returning to Running After Illness: Best Practices for a Quick and Safe Comeback

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The most important advice will be to always err on the side of caution when it comes to running and sickness. This goes for both starting to feel sick and post sickness when you are still recovering. Running if you are not completely healthy is a one-way ticket to prolonging your sickness – or even making it worse and being out from running even longer.

At the first sign of illness

At the first sign of illness, stop training. If your body is fighting something, it needs all the energy it can to get you back, and using that energy on training will just delay the body’s ability to fight the infection. If you want to get back to training in the shortest amount of time, stopping training at the first sign of any sickness is the way to go. (No matter how hard that can be.)

Post Sickness

Now that we’ve established the seriousness of training while not 100%, when you are finally feeling better, how do you best approach your comeback? 

Let’s say you started to feel sick and decided to take a few days off running to be safe, and you never ended up getting sick for real. Great! You can return to training as you were previously but avoid any harder effort running for the same amount of days you took off running. (In other words, if you took two days off, hold off on speedwork the first two days and just do easy running instead.)

If you did end up getting sick and you were out for less than a week, once you are fully recovered, start with 1 week of training at about 50% of your previous volume with only easy running. After that week – provided things are feeling good – go right back into your previous training.

But let’s say you got sick and were out for more than a week, how do you approach it then? Well, you want to take the same amount of time that you were off running to get back to the volume of running you were at previously. Did you follow? If you were out for 2 weeks, for example, let it take another 2 weeks to build back up to where you were at instead of continuing as if nothing happened. You would do the first week at 50% of your previous volume, and then the second at 75%, and then come the third week, you’re back to full training. During the first week or two, make sure to keep things easy and avoid any hard sessions. 

Conclusively, keep things easy and keep your volume lower. If you are worried that you’re not hitting your milestones or training goals due to sickness and you are eager to jump right back into things – resist the urge. It’s hard (we know), but you’d just be asking to put yourself farther back. A week or two at a lower volume and intensity is not going to kill your training at all in the long term, but overloading a body that is recovering from sickness could potentially risk a whole lot more.

Did you get sick and still feel unsure on how to best return to running? Email us at, and we’ll gladly help you get back on track with your running!

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