Drastic decrease in running ability

On Memorial Day weekend, I caught a cold. Felt icky for a few days but well enough to run a 5K race on Saturday June 2. Paced 7:30/mile. Returned to work the following week and felt tired and sluggish. By the weekend, I was feeling awful again and I could not stay cool and had a low grade fever. Attempted to run a few times but about 1-2 miles into it, I would crash. Went to the DR on Sunday June 17. Got an RX for antibiotics and steroids, strep test negative, told me it was probably bronchitis. Today, June 28, I still cannot pace better than 9:00/mile for anything longer than 4 miles. Before I got sick, I was running 30 miles a week, varying distances each run, but was closer to the 8:15 mark. When I run, my chest feels like I can’t fully expand it- as though I’m restricted by tight clothing (I’m not). My heart rate is well into the 180s where as it would hover around 165-170 before I got sick. I have my A race of the year coming up on July 4th- 10K. I ran a 10K today and felt like I was half dead and timed 56:42- my last 10K was 52:00 at a moderately hard effort but not race effort. I have run 45 miles in June compared to 110-120 in previous months. I normally run 1/2 my weekly distance every 4 weeks as an active recovery week. Is it normal to be struggling this much after being sick? My frustrations are mounting and I’m allowing this to bother me more than it should. My diet is normal and has not changed; in fact the only good thing is I’ve had zero alcohol since June 2nd since I haven’t felt very much like enjoying it. Outside of my running, I feel 85% but still feel a bit hoarse. Still have less energy than before.

I’m sorry for rambling. I take a lot of pride in my fitness and feel as though I’m failing myself, especially with my important race next week.

Thank you for your time.


  • KevHex
    KevHex Posts: 256 Member
    You are still recovering from illness, you need a few more days rest. Your body will thank you. You will be back just as strong next week.
  • VUA21
    VUA21 Posts: 2,072 Member
    Your body is fighting off little buggers trying to make a home in your body. Let yourself recover.
  • TavistockToad
    TavistockToad Posts: 35,720 Member
    Why are you continuing to run when you're ill?

    Just rest, you're just prolonging your illness
  • KeepRunningFatboy
    KeepRunningFatboy Posts: 3,055 Member
    Possibly the body needs rest. The body and the mind might just also need a break from the training cycle.

    I would ditch the watch and heart rate monitor for July and all other metrics, and just at enjoy running and jogging. Run different and some enjoyable and scenic routes. Take a walk break if you feel anxious or your heart racing. Cross train by hiking some mountains. Vary the distances you run so it doesn’t become monotonous.

  • Knoxvilla5
    Knoxvilla5 Posts: 74 Member
    My doctor friends say that you have to rest and not do vigorous exercise (and definitely not strength training) if you have a viral infection. It could be up to 2 weeks, esp as you get older. Not sure what they were saying the mechanism behind this logic was, but it's been said to me by more than one doc.
  • Jthanmyfitnesspal
    Jthanmyfitnesspal Posts: 3,421 Member
    I have been through this. You get bronchitis, take a week off exercise, then figure it's time to start back, but you just don't have the air. If you talk to a doc, most will shrug and say "take more time off," but you don't want to. So what's the answer?

    My (unqualified) impression is that you may have had a touch of pneumonia. My (again unprofessional) impression is that it attacks your lungs and significantly reduces function, which then slowly returns. You don't want to overly irritate your lungs during healing. This means you have to back off for some time. I understand you can monitor your recovery with a simple plastic spirometer which can be purchased online.

    Keep the docs in the loop (assuming you can). But: I don't think they will be at all surprised that it's taking this long to recover.
  • Charlene___23
    Charlene___23 Posts: 5 Member
    Thank you for your responses. I will take a week or two off after my race on Wednesday. I am making myself sick worrying about not getting enough miles in before it and how that will affect my performance.
  • L1zardQueen
    L1zardQueen Posts: 8,754 Member
    When I had bronchitis, I continued with cycling. I made it worse and ended up with exercise induced asthma. This was years ago, but I have the remnants of damage done. Getter better first. Really!
  • rheddmobile
    rheddmobile Posts: 6,840 Member
    Have you ruled out walking pneumonia? Might be time for a trip back to the doctor.
  • 0ysterboy
    0ysterboy Posts: 192 Member
    Illness whacks my running fitness FAR more than any other discipline. Be patient and get well.
  • rybo
    rybo Posts: 5,424 Member
    I'd stop running and make a return trip to the doctor
  • girlwithcurls2
    girlwithcurls2 Posts: 2,257 Member
    Thank you for your responses. I will take a week or two off after my race on Wednesday. I am making myself sick worrying about not getting enough miles in before it and how that will affect my performance.

    ... and then what? Why push yourself through illness to try to keep up with a regimen you cannot sustain when it is already negatively affecting your performance? If you had given yourself the time your body needed to heal at the beginning, you might be already building back to where you were. You're not going to lose your overall fitness by taking care of yourself. Even if you drop back a little bit, it's better than dragging this out. Let your body get better, then evaluate where you are and go from there.
  • z4oslo
    z4oslo Posts: 229 Member
    It may be overtraining. Especially if your HR is 170+ each and every run. I dont know what your MAX HR is, but I do know that 170+ is not an easy run. You do not do yourself any favors by pushing too hard every run. 70-80% of your runs should be easy.
  • dewd2
    dewd2 Posts: 2,449 Member
    How did your race go?
  • Charlene___23
    Charlene___23 Posts: 5 Member
    54:03, 8:42/mile. The first half is downhill with a climb during miles 4 and 5, then flat for 6 and down for the last bit. Had to walk a bit towards the end of mile 4- paced 9:26 for that mile.

    I was top 5% for women, and top 7% for age group, and 5240/54763 overall. Last year I ran it in 50:56 in 88 degree weather- this year it was 77 but 92% humidity. For June I ran 48 miles so considering that I’m still only feeling about 90% and my running volume was less than half it should have been, I’m pleased with my performance. Looking at taking a week off from running. I have 15 work shifts (12 hours) over the next 17 days so I won’t have time for much else anyway.

    Thank you for asking. :)