Flu Season Tips for Runners

Article | July 2017

Flu Season Tips for Runners

Don't let the bug bring you down.

Staying healthy during flu season

Running a half or full marathon is an impressive achievement, one that requires significant time, energy and perseverance long before race day. You decide to run, you come up with a plan and you train nearly every day for many months, committed and determined to achieve your goal.

The last thing you need is a case of the flu to bring you down, disrupt your training schedule and mess with your plan to cross that finish line. So how can you help protect yourself?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) , the flu vaccine prevented more than 40,000 flu-associated deaths in the United States from 2005 to 2014. Here’s what you need to know about the flu shot.

  • The vaccine will not give you the flu. This is simply a myth.
  • Don't wait. Get the vaccine several weeks prior to the race. While it will not give you the flu, your arm might be a little sore the next day and it is possible that you may run a low fever afterward.
  • Aim for the fall. Experts say the single best way to avoid the flu is to get the vaccine as soon as it becomes available in your area, but any time during the winter is fine.1

In addition to getting vaccinated, there are several things you can do to help you stay healthy during flu season.

  • Wash your hands. Use soap and water every time you shake hands or touch a door knob and try not to touch your face.
  • Carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Use it when a sink isn't available.
  • Play it safe. Instead of visiting a sick friend, send a text and let your favorite restaurant deliver soup on your behalf.

Not everything was meant to be shared, especially during flu season. Be stingy with your utensils--it's okay! Only accept a bite of your friend's filet before she digs in. Bring separate water bottles for each member of the family. Wash dirty dishes and utensils using very hot water.

Finally, staying active helps keep your immune system healthy, which means your race training is already working in your favor. Eat a balanced diet and aim for seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Taking these steps will help your body fend off germs and stay healthy and fit until you cross the finish line.

Woman running in the snow

1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/flu/consumer/vaccinations.htm

The information provided is for educational purposes only. It is not medical advice. Always consult your doctor for appropriate health advice and guidance, including prior to starting a new diet or exercise program.