Working after Covid 19: I've discovered that!
If you are like any number of people around the world right now, you have been hit by the coronavirus also known as Covid 19. Regardless of whether your case of Covid was serious and persistent or short and mild, many people find that the effects of Covid 19 lasted long after they expected. As an avid runner who had Covid 19 and fought his way back to running, take it from me. It can be a long and challenging journey. However, if you are patient with yourself, you could be running on Covid again in no time.
When should I run again?
The first thing you need to know is that even if your case is classified as "mild" by Covid, it will affect your body in ways that you may not have anticipated. For example, some athletes with normally very low heart rates find that their heart rate fluctuates in abnormally high ranges even when they are not exercising!
Another thing that a lot of people notice is that they shine getting out of breath very quickly post Covid. How do you know what to do?
If your case is mild in all respects, once you are no longer contagious, you can probably try resuming the very simple exercise. That doesn't mean you should expect to start at the same speed and mileage as you did before Covid. It's important to note that not everyone agrees that you should exercise this early.
Second wave of symptoms
Some people with Covid 19 get a second set of symptoms long after they believe their Covid has resolved on its own. For this reason, some doctors advise people not to run or exercise more strenuously than yoga 10-14 days after your infectious window. Others feel that it can be okay to start beforehand, as long as you take it slow, and with your body and your reactions in mind.
If you get a second wave of symptoms, be smart and step back from your physical exertion. The last thing you need to do is slide backwards once you've started healing!
Some people have symptoms that persist for months after Covid. These people, referred to as long distance drivers, need to proceed with caution.
There is a school of thought that is growing in popularity and advises anyone who has had Covid get an EKG and possibly even an echocardiogram before resuming physical activity. This is because there is a low risk of heart attack or arrhythmia, which has resulted in sudden cardiac arrest in people who were healthy before the Covid.
Some people have Myocarditis after Covid and are very concerned about it. Know that most of these cases are people who have had severe seizures with the disease. It's not typical for people who were asymptomatic or who didn't have very severe cases.
If your case of Covid resulted in you being hospitalized, do not resume physical activity until you have consulted your GP.
Being patient with yourself is a very important and necessary step after getting this virus. If you've cycled 3-5 miles regularly with little problem, your first run should likely be closer to two. Additionally, this maiden voyage should be closer to your easy, long-term pace. If you can do a few short runs at this easy pace, you may want to consider stepping up your pace a little.
Fifty percent of your base kilometers for the first few weeks is a standard recommendation from coaches across the country. If you are feeling great after seven to ten days, your body may be ready for more. Just take care of your body.
There is a great guide called 50/30/20/10 activity resumption rule. For the first week, you'll do about half of your normal activity. Over the next week, reduce your normal workload by only 30%.
The following week you only need to subtract about 20%, and in the last week, you guessed it, you are only doing 10% less than before. This plan assumes that you will improve, and not get worse in any way. Be honest with yourself as you work your way through.
For example, student athletes are subject to a strict protocol in which they have to become active again in a very specific way. In many exercise programs, students are mandated to receive an EKG before returning to exercise. If these very young, healthy athletes are taking clear precautions, then it stands to reason that recreational runners should too!
Monitor your heart rate
One of the most common fights athletes report after Covid is an increased heart rate. For this reason, it is advisable to monitor your heart rate for three to four months after you have recovered. As a runner, if you have a smartwatch, you likely need to refer to heart rate data.
During my personal Covid recovery journey, I noticed that my heart rate was up to 30 beats per minute faster while running significantly slower than the week before. In fact, I am here almost four months after the Covid and am still experiencing what I have termed the "post-Covid craze".
Mix it up
Another thing that helps some athletes is to commit to a more varied training regiment for a while. It may sound crazy, but running every day made my heart rate go up like crazy. When I started mixing some biking and time on the elliptical, my heart rate seemed to find a more level floor while running.
You should also be sure to include some rest days in your week. Your body has just been through a lot and pushing too hard could cause kickback.
Signs To Withdraw While Exercising
Determining whether your difficult workout is because you are still sick, have residual effects from your illness, or have lost your fitness can be a great challenge. When you consider that you are unlikely to lose a lot of cardiovascular fitness in 2-3 weeks, wonder how you feel about running.
If running feels difficult at every step and you are having problems, understand this to mean that your body needs more time. Big warning signs include any type of chest pain, chest tightness, difficulty breathing, increased heart rate, and / or a feeling of passing out.
Summary of the Dos and Don’s
To keep it simple:
- Talk to your doctor before starting.
- Start slowly.
- Start with less mileage than before the Covid.
- Monitor your heart rate.
- Eat well, moisturize, and listen to your body.
- Do not start exercising if symptoms occur.
- Do not exercise if you are in a period of infection.
- Don't push yourself through in a posture with no pain and no gain.
- Don't feel like a failure when you're struggling.
Remember that this virus draws a lot from the body and treats it with respect. Your return journey must be careful and deliberate. Your body relies on you to make good decisions.