Returning to training post Covid-19 infection
Health, February 25, 2022
Covid 19 has many different symptoms and everyone reacts differently. Once you have it how do you get back into the swing of things?
Covid-19. A lot of people have had it and a lot of people will still get it. I got it at the end of January and have been sick and recovering from it.
What is not talked about so often is how normal athletes should return to training.
Firstly, I am not a doctor. I have read reports, heard Podcasts, and discussed this issue with athletes that had Covid-19 last year, and before me this year. What I write here is a combination of what I have and am experiencing, what others have done, and what generally recommended is.
The first point that is important is that rest is important whether you have just tested positive or recovering from the effects of the infection.
I tested positive on Monday 24.1, but woke up with a bad headache on the Sunday morning, so I probably had Covid-19 then. On the Saturday before I ran a 10km virtual trail run, and really pushed it hard.
Forget the saying," if you rest, you rust". Give your body a chance to deal with the Virus. An extra day's rest is not going to have a negative effect, but starting too soon can.
The sooner you realise that from the point of testing positive until you start to be able to feel good and train normally you are going to lose at least a month the better. If you allow yourself time to recover and just recover you will recover faster. If you try to fill your day with tasks you are not giving your body a chance to do the extra work it needs to do.
Listen to your body. If you are tired, have difficulty breathing, or have an elevated resting heart rate, or other symptoms you shouldn't be doing anything other than resting. There is no such thing as "just a little strength session " or "I'm just going to tick my legs over on the trainer".
If you are moving, you are moving, and you are not resting.
Once you are symptom free, your resting heart rate is stable, your test is negative, and during the day your energy levels are consistent then you are ready to return to movement.
I was very fit before I got Covid-19, but once I had it that was not the case. I didn't have any normal flu symptoms. I just had a bad headache a lot of the time, and no energy. I couldn't do much for long without having to have a lay down.
For two weeks I felt like that and after 7 and 9 days still tested positive. After 11 days I was negative and felt better, and I wanted to get outside.
I started with walking. Just walking. Flat. Short. I measured it, and checked my heart rate as I was walking.
I checked my heart rate afterwards and observed how my body reacted for the rest of the day.
The next day I went for a jog and kept pulling the handbrake up. It felt weird to be running again, but it was good to be outside. I finished after 4.5km feeling good, but certainly not like doing more.
Over the next week I was running with my running group without doing any intervals or pushing the pace. I monitored my heart rate the whole time, and made sure to keep the intensity low. It felt OK. Just OK. I went for a walk on the Sunday with my kids and chased them downhill. The legs felt OK.
The week after I did four runs and during the last one despite being windy my heart rate was lower despite the pace being faster.
By 22.2 I felt normal and my heart rate has dropped down and easy feels easy, it feels possible to move at a good pace without feeling like my breathing keeps getting too hard or the feeling getting worse.
My rhythm still isn't there, but what can you expect. However, I would much rather take the time to allow for a full recovery, and a gradual build-up rather than jumping in too soon and too eager. The risk of a long term issue are too high, and I am active because I love it, and having the ability to do so taken away would be horrible.
In short, be smart, listen to your body, keep the handbrake up, take your time to get back into it and be patient.