Aaargh! Cold and chesty cough just before my first marathon

Hi all, I understand that this is my problem and I will have to take a decision, but please let me vent out my angst a bit and do share your pearls of wisdom with me.

The story so far: I have been training for MK marathon and training so far has gone very well. No injuries. I am not by any means fast but I can stay comfortably on my feet for a long time. I have done several 30+km runs and the longest run I have done was 40km in 4 hours and a bit.

My latest half mara PB is 1.53, and I would say I am as ready as one can be.

(Possibly I was feeling even a tad smug and then the No Smug Goddess hit me with a vengeance...)


My 9 year old infected me (poor muppet).

The cold is now turning into a proper chesty cough. I feel cold all the time and it feels like I have quite a lot of, er, snot to expel. My throat is killing me first thing in the morning but all these symptoms get better with Lemsip. I went for a gentle 15km run today and I certainly feel ready to do the big 42.195 in my legs but I did feel light headed.

It is my first marathon so I have not got a time goal (officially) but I would hate to go and have a terrible day or have to pull out.

My idea would be, if I feel like today, run it, and if I get worse (very much worse) not.

So my questions are:

1) Is one allowed take lemsip before a marathon?

2) any of you has experience of running a marathon with a cold?

Advice, spells agains cold, horror stories and (ESPECIALLY) happy endings gratefully received here.


Thank you! xxx


  • Dunno about the Lemsip, but getting colds and other ailments is very common during a taper. I got one before the Abingdon Marathon last October, but felt better the day before and decided to do it, and came in at around 3hrs46, easily my best for a marathon. If you're right on the throes of a cold, your body probably won't thank you for doing the run - which doesn't mean to say you won't finish. If you seem to be coming out the other end of the cold, I would say go for the marathon. Either way, you always have the option of pulling out - not a ncie option, but an option nonetheless.

  • Peter: 'but getting colds and other ailments is very common during a taper'. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.

    It is what I wanted to hear.

    Your story is certainly a happy ending and gives me hope!

  • Mr PuffyMr Puffy ✭✭✭

    In 2010 I ran Chester Marathon with a  cold and went perhaps ten minutes slower than I would have expected.

    This year I ran London with a cold and had to stop, sweated like a pig all the way round, dizzy, disorientated, lucky to be able to finish.


    your call but I would do it image



  • You've got a few days yet, right? So rest, drink lots of fluid, take lots of vit C, zinc, etc. (I know there's conflicting evidence on whether there's any point to taking vit C/zinc when you have a cold but there are times when it's worth a try) and with a bit of luck you should be feeling better by Monday. I hope so anyway - good luck!

  • SlowkoalaSlowkoala ✭✭✭

    It's only Thursday so you still have 3 days to recover and colds can get much better in 3 days. Must be frustrating but I'd try and take loads of zinc and Vit c plus lots of hot fluids and sleep. 

  • Trilla, sorry to hear you havent been well. Wishing you all the best for the marathon & I hope you feel better soon.

     I have a marathon on 1st June and was meant to do a 16 miler this weekend, but am full of a chesty cold & feel a bit light headed & dizzy (also due to lack of sleep as up all night for past week coughing)

    ...should I give the 16 a miss? Can run but only slowly. going up hills makes me wheeze like a 30 a day smoker image


    Mr Puffy - that was brave, did you finish it ok in the end? did you end up taking some walking breaks?

  • LTS, you simply have to listen to your body in this case - you're ill, so take some rest. You have plenty of time until the marathon.

  • booktrunkbooktrunk ✭✭✭

    If it isn't to far to travel just go start running and see how you feel on the day. 

    If you are purely going for a pb and would just sign up and run somewhere else the week after then don't bother.  But if it's your first or similar just go for it, can always change your mind and just stop if you feel to bad? 

    D'oh you said it's your first!! so turn up on the day and try if you feel crap just go slower or stopimage  

  • Hi guys thank you all for your support! image

    So yesterday I had to come back from work early because I felt so rubbish!!  Did not really sleep. This morning I felt much better and to test the waters decided to do my very first ever parkrun! (to great dismay of my other half)



    Running **is** magic sometimes.


    I will be slower and possibly still coughing and snotty but I think I can really do it!!


    I will post here how it goes.


    LTS - I am no expert but I think you still have plenty of time and I would not risk a 16 miler if you are not up for it. Hope you too feel better soon!!!


    PS Booktrunk I think we are running the same race? I'll come say hello if i see you!


  • Just to say to all: I HAVE DONE IT!!!

    Yes, I should have stayed in bed instead. I was still ill and coughing quite a lot.

    Yes, I had a difficult day and finished in a very bad time compared to my long runs and half marathon time.

    BUT I DID IT!!

    As i wrote in the MK marathon thread:

    I had a bit of a mixed day. As pre my previous post you will know that I am ill with a sore throat and a bad cough and was in two minds about running this but I decided to go for it, on the strength on an ok park run on Saturday (!!).

    I have done plenty of 30+km runs in training (I live in a hilly place) and I know, really know, that I can do 6 mins/km for at least 35 km, without problems. My half marathon time is 1.53.

    So yesterday I started happy and slow but I started suffering very early on. At mile 12 I had a coughing fit and the heat, which I do not like at the best of times, really affected me. My breathing was all over the place.

    I went into complete physical and emotional meltdown. I realised I could not run the race that in normal condition I was capable of. I had (in my head thankfully) a full blown tantrum: this is unfair! I do not want this!! Cough, cough, cough.

    I just could not breathe properly and get into my stride. Cough, cough, cough.

    So I had 2 option, quit it or develop a race strategy that would allow me to finish in one piece.


    I chose b.


    I decided to run a mile and walk a mile. I am used to be on my feet for a long time and know that the 20-something km left were not that much, really.


    So I did, with focus and determination. Run one, walk one. Cough.  Cough a little more. At mile 23 I decided to run the last 3 miles. Because you see, the muscles strenght was there - IS there, it was :"just" my breathing that would not let me run. (In fact, today I ache a little but nothing like I would expect).

    I finished in 4.48, obviously not happy with my time but very proud of my mental strenght, proud that on a difficult day I have managed to keep on keeping on!

    So I have done my first marathon, but it is unfinished business between me and the distance. Give me a cold day without a cough and me and the big 42.195 are going to have a GRAND day.


    I promise you.

  • PS - just to say that, of course, today I have not stopped coughing for one second (I am rasping like a 40 woodbines a day smokes as i write this)  and my throat is killing me. Of eff off you respiratory system!!!

  • Trilla - well done on completing your first marathon - you should be very happy with your efforts - especially considering how unwell you were leading up to the race & on the day itself.

    Although a cough/cold isn't that bad in the grand sheme of things, try training for & running a marathon & it's a different story!

    You're right - your next marathon on a cooler day, when you are in full health should seem easier in comparison. image

    Hope the cough gets better soon.


  • Well done, Trilla. It's a decent time. Don't beat yourself up.

  • Thank you Peter. You are kind!image

  • Try telling my wife that...

  • Bless you!  Can totally commiserate and this weekend took a chance two days into a cold and ran Kent Roadrunner Marathon.... 7 miles in horrific fever, blurred vision.  Stopped.  Took two paracetamol and ran/walked with a friend eventually finishing in a spectacular personal worst but nevertheless completed it.  Now the cold has majorly come out and I'm streaming/coughing. But since I'd endured that horrible winter's training after 3 years not running being injured, nothing was going to stop me.  I would advise making sure you don't over push yourself.  If I'd have carried on running planned pace I would have surely collapsed, be prepared to change your strategy drastically or even deciding to dnf seriously if you dont feel well

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