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With Spring races on the horizon for many runners, January often marks the kick-off for a lot of training plans. So what happens when your workouts are derailed by an unplanned illness? If you’ve picked up a newspaper or watched the evening news in the past week, you’ve probably heard this year’s flu is spreading like wildfire throughout the country, which means some runners will experience angst over not feeling well enough to run. Women’s Running is here to help those fighting the flu safely gain back their stride without prolonging the illness. Here are our top tips* for running after the flu:
-Fever test. It’s simple – if you have a fever, it’s best to wait until after it has passed to lace up your shoes. A fever indicates your body is fighting off an infection. Instead of stealing energy away to run, allow your body to put all of its resources towards warding off the flu.
-Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. It’s no secret that the flu can cause dehydration, so make sure you take in plenty of liquids to rehyrdate your body after the flu. Monitor urine color to judge hydration level – anything darker than lemonade indicates a level of dehydration. Wait until you achieve the right color before hitting the streets.
-Take your vitamins. Your immune system just went to war and may need a little boost to stand firm again. While we recommend making a multi-vitamin part of your daily routine, it is especially important after fighting the flu.
-Take it easy! Your first several runs after the flu should be low intensity and short in duration. If you’re short of breath, you’re working too hard. Remember, the goal is to ease back into it. Time on your feet is more important than intensity when you’re first starting again.
-Gradually increase your mileage. While it might be tempting to dive right back into your training plan, remember to gradually increase the amount of time or miles you run over a week’s duration. Starting too hard and too fast risks the return of flu symptoms. Ease your body back into your routine.
-Warning signs. If you experience dizziness, muscle aches or extreme fatigue, stop the exercise and rest for another day or two before gradually starting again. Consult your doctor if these symptoms linger on and don’t subside.
-Be kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up if the flu derailed your training plans temporarily. Remember rest days are an important part of training, so a few days off won’t hurt your overall progress. Afterall, being sick can really make us appreciate when we feel well – so take time to enjoy your post-flu runs and celebrate the fact that you are back on your feet!
Have you fought the flu this year? If so, how did you return to running? Tell us your tips here or tweet us @WomensRunning.
*These are general tips to help you run after fighting the flu. We recommend seeking the advice of your doctor for remedies specific to your illness.