Should you compete in a race when you're sick?

What's Going Around week of March 6th, 2017

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It's a big week for runners!  The Gate River Run is this weekend and a lot of you have worked hard- training and prepping for the Gate River Run this weekend.

Getting to the finish line on Saturday can be a small miracle in itself and the last thing you need is a cold to derail all that hard work.  If you have a sinking feeling that you may be getting sick- or even worse, if you've been diagnosed with the flu this week, should you still race this Saturday?

Germs can strike at any time, and if you've been coughing and sneezing and sidelined by a cold just days before a big race, you may want to think twice about lacing up those sneakers. Erin Dankworth, the Wellness Experience Director with the YMCA and Kelly Dushuttle, a nurse practitioner with CareSpot both warn runners to stay away from a racing if you're sick that same week.

"If they're having cough and fever and bodyaches and if they test positive for the flu, or strep, I would recommend not running," said Kelly Dushuttle, a nurse practioner with CareSpot.

It can take seven to 14 days for your body to fully recover from the flu. Running any distance can be tough but racing while sick can be close to impossible and make your symptoms worse.

"Your body temperature rises, you're exerting yourself and if your immune system is already down, it's going to make you more prone to getting sick," said Dushuttle.

Erin Dankworth has been joining us on The Morning Show every Thursday with tips on gearing up for the Gate River Run. She agrees when you're sick, your body is already dehydrated and weakened by a cold, running​ can place an added stress on your body. Red flags you should look for to stay away from the race indlue a fever above 100.4 degrees,  a cough that makes your chest feel tight- which could mean lower respiratory problems and body aches all over. Trying to tough it out and ignoring these symptoms for the big race are a bad idea.

"It can make you more sick and you could have secondary complicaions and your flu could end up in pneumonia," said Dushuttle.

Once you start feeling a little better and your body is on the mend, Erin says make sure you take it easy. Don't head out for a run the day after you start feeling better. Don't try to catch up on your training plan but instead, give yourself at least a week before jumping back to your training. Some light and easy jogging should take place for the first few days. Add more intesnsity and distance in the following weeks.