6 Tips to Get Back to Running After a Cold Incl. a 10-Day Training Plan

Ein Mann läuft auf einer Brücke im Nebel

Winter season is cold season. Many runners ask themselves the following questions: What is the best way to start running again after an unwanted break due to illness? And how do I do it without suffering a setback (i.e. getting sick again or injury)?

A man running in the woods

How do you return to running after an illness?

Many runners try to make up for missed workouts right away, so they can pick up their training where they left off. But this is exactly what you shouldn’t do because it will only lead to sickness, injury and/or overtraining.

You can’t make up missed workouts.

What you should do instead is reorganize your training schedule. Trying to pick up where you left off after a break of several days or even weeks would be too hard on your body. The risk of suffering a relapse is too high.


You need to make sure you fully recover from a cold before you start training again. If you’re not sure if it’s time yet, you should probably get your doctor’s approval before starting up again.

Training Plan for Getting a Healthy Start After Having a Cold

Training Plan for running on a treadmill

Because everyone’s body reacts differently to training, you should keep the following points in mind when preparing to start training again:

1. Run the first few sessions slower and shorter. It’s better to err on the side of caution. If the first few sessions go well and you feel good, you can steadily increase the mileage as you go.

2.Length of time you were sick = length of time you need to come back:Your body basically needs the same amount of time to reach your previous level of performance as it needed to recover from your cold.

3. Take time to recover! Every running day should be followed by a rest day. Your weakened body needs time to recover from the additional demands of running. This takes time, and you shouldn’t push yourself too hard at the beginning. Listen to your body on the rest days and don’t go running again until you feel 100% fit and healthy.

a woman doing stretching after a run

4. Use the time to work on your conditioning. Make sure to do some stretching and strengthening exercises as part of your comeback routine. These create a good basis and help build up your musculoskeletal system.

5. Monitor your heart rate and your perceived effort: If your heart rate and perceived effort are higher than usual during your first sessions, then you should reduce the intensity of your training. An additional rest day without training might be a good idea. Only in this way can your body get used to the demands of training again. As soon as your body is reacting normally, you can increase the pace and the frequency of your workouts.

6. Give your body time: Depending on your age, gender and general level of fitness, you body requires different amounts of time to reach your previous level of performance.

The following scenarios can help guide you through your 10-day training plan:

Scenario 1:

You feel pretty good and would like to start training again, but you’re still taking medicine

As long as you’re still taking medicine, your condition is probably worse than you think. Your body is still busy healing and can’t handle the additional stress of a workout. Make sure to get plenty of fluids and vitamins and give your body the time it needs to recover fully.

Scenario 2:

On the first day you feel 100% fit and healthy again

Wait at least three more days to start training. You can do some light stretching and bodyweight exercises to work on your conditioning. Just make sure to keep the intensity low and the workout short.

Scenario 3:

You want to start training again, and you feel completely healthy

Stick to doing some easy endurance runs and recovery workouts for the same period of time you were sick. Only after this slow comeback phase can you start to pick up the pace and really push your body again.

Scenario 4:

You have finished your first session, and afterward, you feel tired and sluggish again

Note: If your body reacts this way to the first training session, it’s not healthy enough to start up again. Treat your body to one or two more rest days and then try to start again with the first training session.

Back to training:

You have completed the 10-day training plan, and you feel 100% fit and healthy

Now you can start training again in earnest and get back to your normal routine. High-intensity workouts and intervals should no longer pose a risk to your health.

I wish you a good start back to your running training!



Sascha Wingenfeld

Sascha, health trainer & active triathlete, has been coaching runners from beginners to professionals for over 10 years. "I love my job and I love running." View all posts by Sascha Wingenfeld »

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