Should I run? - 16th October 2019

Simon - running coach
by Simon - Middle-distance runner and athletics coach

Whether or not you should go for a run on any given day isn't always an easy question to answer.

Of course, if you're not ill, not injured, not recovering and don't have a big race tomorrow, the answer is almost always yes.

But what if you have a little niggle in your left ankle, if your throat is a bit scratchy, if you only got 5 hours of sleep last night, or if you've been on the sauce? Then the answer may not be so straightforward. Let's deal with various scenarios.

1. You're feeling ill

General advice is that it's ok to run with a head cold if you don't feel too bad and don't have a fever. You often hear the advice that as long as it's "above the neck" then you're ok to run.

I usually do run when I'm suffering a minor head cold, but think it's always worth erring on the side of caution. You don't want to make yourself worse or do any serious damage.

2. You have a niggle

This is really tough. Knowing whether or not you should run with minor pain or discomfort is something that tends to come with experience.

Sometimes you just need to loosen up and you'll feel fine; on other occasions you could be aggravating what is the beginning of a potential injury.

I would suggest that if you do go out with a niggle then ease yourself into the run very cautiously. Start with a brisk walk and then move into gentle jogging. In fact, avoid doing anything more strenuous than gentle jogging until you have a better understanding of what the problem is. If pain or discomfort grows whilst running, then stop and reevaluate.

And if it persists then seek the help of a trained specialist who will be able to offer specific and personalised advice.

3. You're tired

Rest is crucial for obtaining the most benefit from your sessions. It's not only important to rest after, but also before, sessions in order to ensure you are able to work optimally.

With that in mind, if you're still recovering from a big session or have one the following day, then it's probably best to give the run a miss.

Otherwise, just take things a bit easier.

4. You're hungover

Some claim that running is a great hangover cure; while others insist that it'll increase your suffering.

Remember you'll be poorly hydrated after a heavy drinking session, so take on plenty of fluids. You'll probably also notice that your heart rate is a bit higher, so slow down.

Or just drink less the night before ;-)

5. You're not in the mood

I'd suggest telling yourself you're just going out for 10 minutes. Chances are you'll carry on going. And if you're still not in the mood then maybe you could do with a day off. Remember that running should be enjoyable, and forcing yourself to run when you're really not up for it can be harmful. Of course, if you're wimping out of a tough session because it's tough then I think you know what you should be doing.

6. You're too busy

Busy with your child's birthday party or your best friend's wedding? Fair enough. But if it's housework or business then try your best to find a little time to get out. Even a ten-minute jog is worthwhile and could provide a much-needed break.