The most important thing to remember about the Leggers’ training program is that redundancy is built in: you can miss a week or even three and still step to the start line of the marathon with confidence. You will have multiple chances to complete 18 and 20 mile training sessions, and if you’ve got one of those under your water belt then you’re good.

So if you have a cold or flu, how do you know if you’re fit to run or walk? And how do you know what you’ve got?

Only your medical professional can make a diagnosis, but here’s a handy chart from the National Foundation of Infectious Diseases to help you understand the different characteristics of the big four winter foes we’ve got to watch out for. Again: consider these broad guidelines…consult your doctor for diagnosis and treatment!



The Leggers want you to make sure you’re taking care of yourself and the others in your group, so if you have any symptoms of COVID or flu, make sure you stay home and take care of yourself! If you have a fever you should absolutely stay home, and if you have a sore throat or loss of taste/smell (both COVID symptoms) take a COVID test and stay home. Body aches, fatigue, chest congestion, and productive coughs are signs of flu and COVID and they should also keep you home.

There’s an old rule of thumb that might be helpful: if your symptoms are from the neck down, stay home! From the neck up you MIGHT be OK to train: hay fever and sinus infections, for example, are prevalent at this time of year. It can take me a month to get over the drip-drip of a sinus infection, but I am not contagious and so it’s OK for me to train with the group.

However, if you’ve got other people in the house who are also sniffling you might be experiencing the Common Cold (which is really one of several different rhinoviruses that circulate every year). Sore throat can also be a symptom here (which is why the COVID test is handy), but symptoms are usually more mild than flu or COVID. If your head cold is active you may still be contagious, so it’s best to not expose others. When in doubt: sit it out!

There’s one more illness you’ve probably heard about: RSV or respiratory syncytial virus. Wheezing is what often distinguishes RSV — that and the fact that it’s often more transmissible than the other three. In Los Angeles County RSV has been on the rise for the last month or so, while COVID (which had a small surge late in the summer) seems to be fading for the moment. RSV is a worry because it can be quite dangerous for older adults and very young children. If you’re 60 or over, check with your doctor about an RSV vaccination.

Speaking of vaccinations: they’re a really, really good idea. If not for you, then for the youngsters and oldsters in your life. If you aren’t transmitting RSV or COVID, then grandpa and the newborn are less like to contract them. And in case you haven’t heard, this fall’s COVID vaccine is not technically a “booster” since it was formulated to respond to a specific Omicron variant that started over the summer. LA County Public Health has a helpful site here to answer all your vaccine questions:

A lot of people wonder if working out will help you recover more quickly, and there are two answers to that. First, since you’re months into a marathon training program you are already ahead of the game. Your illness is likely to be less severe and your recovery shorter. There is no science on whether or not starting to do workouts as you recover will make you better faster, but there’s plenty of science that says workouts will make you FEEL better. In other words, the science says yes but it’s subjective.

When you do get back on the road, take it easy on yourself! Try doing shorter distances, or try going out with a slower group. That’s another key Leggers feature: you can always drop back a pace group or two to get back in gear. Meet some new Leggers and get back on track slowly. Don’t rush your recovery: we’ll get you to the marathon if you just take care of yourself!