How to Workout When You’re Sick or Tiered

This past training cycle I was good and sick for at least 3 of the 12 weeks. Plus I was fully in two job life mode. Last time I trained for a 1/2 It was down to one job in the summer only. So this time I also found myself tiered and occasionally napping. Truthfully it was harder but I’m finishing the whole plan about 9 km and one run short of 455 km and 48 runs so some where between 1 and 2% and I feel pretty dang great about that! I’ve written a post in the past about when it’s time to skip a workout but how do you get it in if your just a bit tiered or sick? So now that you’ve read when you should skip a workout how do you fit one in when you’re not at your best.


If you’re reading this in French on Equilibreplus it’s stolen content from!

Dealing with illness

There are a number of things that can make you really, really want to skip a run but deep down inside you know you can and should get out there. I don’t like skipping workouts in a training plan especially long runs, speed work and other cornerstone workouts but also those recovery and shakeouts too. I feel sort of like once I skip it’s a slippery slope. So even though it might seem counter intuitive I’m more apt to skip at the end of a plan then the beginning. In week two I feel like if I start skipping now I’ll never get it all finished but by week ten I’m more apt to believe that I’m taking a run off since I really do need the extra rest. But than means I’m out there pushing through any number of ailments.

Colds: One that doesn’t have to derail you is just the common cold. If you’re very feverish or having a hard time breathing by all means stay home. But a cough and a stuffy nose are easily dealt with. Getting moving will get your nose moving too and it might as well all come out at once. It often works out that a workout will buy you a few less congested hours after too, if you time it right that might even help you sleep. Another good way to get through a run or a workout with a sore throat is a steady supply of cough drops. Just the sucking action helps keep that cough at bay. I discovered the bulk packed halls this training cycle and the nice thing about them is that they are individually wrapped and you can throw a few in a pocket. Weirdly you can find them in the candy isle or at the drug store. I’ve found the average one lasts about half an hour or four slow km. Just tuck it to the side so you don’t choke. Avoid the urge to overdress since you’re cold by adding gloves or a hat which are easily stashed once you’re on your way.

An upset tummy: Some people have lots of issues digestively and anecdotally at least exercise does work for many in that regard. The thing is how do you start. While… nothing in, nothing out right? If your dealing with episodes from either end wait until one passes and don’t reload until after your workout. If you still feel the need to stay close to a  bathroom just go back and forth in front of your own house heading a few 100m or a km in either direction. It’s kinda gross but I want to include it because some sufferers of IBS, irritable bowel and even Crohn’s say once they establish a dedicated vigorous exercise routine they have fewer issues overall. Just watch your hydration levels.


Cramps and headaches: Getting moving is an established method for dealing with these lower abdomen issues. I myself deal with cramps some months for about a day though less so now that I’m older. This thing is getting a run in, even a short one does tend to shorten the duration overall. So pop a maximum dose of your favourite over the counter pain med (mine is naproxen), drink a small amount of a very hot herbal tee and cuddle up with a hot water bottle in your running gear for about half an hour. We all know cramps tend to ebb and flow so in a better moment spring up and get moving. At least you’ll be distracted for a bit and I bet you’ll find once your done they’re gone. If not at least you’ll be less bloated after. Pretty much the same goes for a headache but you might want to replace that hot water bottle for a cold compress. 

Overall remember no one ever died from running with a headache, cramps or a cold. Be sensible, skip if you need to and give yourself permission to count getting out there a success and let go of your specific goals for the day. If you have something that people have or might very well have died from if they went for a run stay the F home. If however you have a case of the 24 hour flu (hangover) remember you did this to yourself and perhaps this awful workout will teach you to know better in the future.

I’m so tiered

Life is making me tiered: Distinct from training is making me tiered this is more your run of the mill type of tiered. This can be brought on by a bad night’s sleep, working late, kids, too much fun or whatever. The thing is you’re almost guaranteed to have not so great workout or terrible run if you are well and truly exhausted. Runs in particular are bad for this. This past training cycle I had a 9 km run scheduled the day after I missed a night’s sleep. Not for any dramatic or fun reason just because my routine was disrupted and I was woken soon after going to bed. I felt, shaky, slow and all around like I was dragging my car behind me. But I made it through no problem too. The thing is no matter how miserable your workout is or feels it’s like mainlining a whole pot of coffee. In fact if you have to be awake for something later in the day a well timed workout can go a long way.

check out my training plans here

My training plan is making me tiered: Some times you just have to cross out a workout and replace it with rest day. But the other side of that coin is part of training is being tiered and pushing through. For longer races like a half, full or triathlon plans are designed to make you comfortable on your feet while tiered! If you’ve got old injuries not acting up but poking you from time to time, your mood super sucks or you’re really dragging yourself through most of the day rather than living it  you might want to pare back for a couple of weeks and then re-commit. So once you decide that that’s not you and you’re just a regular amount of training plus life tiered how do you get your workout in?

Well to some extent you just put your head down and get it done. I find tricking and bribing myself to be really viable option. Like just tape up and get dressed you don’t actually have to go running. Once I have gotten ready I might as well right plus people ask you why you’re dressed like that if your not going running after a while. Or if you do all 50 km in your plan this week you can buy a new nail polish. Sometimes my Nike running app bribes me by giving me a trophy or new colour level which is super exciting. Resolution trophy anyone? I have a pretty established long run end of program routine. It starts with a epsom salt bubble bath and a fancy lush bath bomb and then a whole bottle of fake pink champagne. Starting at the last hour of the run I’m actually calculating how long it will be until I’m sipping champs in the tub. Lately I’ve even been changing into the same pretty sundress after. If you’re still lacking motivation and you’re really tiered remember that who ever wrote that plan put every workout in there to get you over the line on race day, they’re all important! Plus doing every single one gives you the confidence that you’ll be able to do it come race day to. If all else fails remember that you don’t want to embarrass yourself on race day and if you haven’t already pay for that race today!

Do you have any tips or tricks for getting out there when you’re sick or tiered? What motivation do you dig deep to find when you’re really looking for excuses to skip. 

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