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I am six weeks away form my first marathon and the last two and half weeks of training have been badly affected as i have been suffering with a bad winter cold.

I am still coughing fairly regularly and don't feel fully over it but am starting to get concerned that my fitness level is going to start spiraling downwards if I don't start getting back out and racking up the miles. My last long run of 19.5 miles was over two weeks ago now and I've only managed a couple of easy 4-6 miles since.

  • Should I just continue resting until I feel fully recovered and accept that I probably won't achieve my sub 4 hour goal or can I start to get my training schedule back on track as I recover?
  • Would running actually help me clear my chest and help recovery or could I end up causing more problems for myself?
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When I first saw this question, my immediate reaction was "NO!!!" :) –  Evan Plaice Mar 29 '11 at 18:56

4 Answers 4

up vote 9 down vote accepted

No, keep resting would be the commonest medical answer for this (acute bronchitus). My view is: given all the hours of training you've put in, it's better to complete the marathon slightly slower than to escalate the condition in the cold air and not complete it at all.

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Definitely rest. The importance of resting during the last weeks before a marathon is already hugely underrated. You also risk more serious problems for just a couple of days off. Rest!

A few very easy miles should be ok (they may even help) but nothing more until you feel you are ok.

You still have enough time to catch up (maybe throw in some intense workouts later, during the last month, to spike you up).

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I often hear the advice that if the symptoms are only from the neck up (ie stuffy nose) it's OK, if neck downwards (aches and pains) you shouldn't exercise.

I usually sit it out if I feel any way under the weather. When I don't feel my best I just get frustrated and this has further detrimental effect.

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You have to be careful with running and hydration and having a cold a lack of water can exacerbate your cold. Also, if your body is still fighting the virus you need sufficient amount of rest. So if running is going to make you feel exhausted this is a sign that your body still needs more rest.

That being said, if I am on the mend I prefer to do regular exercise even if I feel bad. So I usually call it based on whether I am on a downward spiral or in recovery mode. If I'm recovering I usually prefer to do some exercise.

It may not be likely that you can make your goal, but maybe you can ease yourself back into it. I wouldn't start exactly where you left off, but drop off and see how you go over a shorter distance.

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