My experience with excercise after COVID

Having managed to avoid catching the dreaded Covid-19 virus for over a year it finally found me at the beginning of August 2021.

Annoyingly I had been booked in for my vaccine the following week. (I’m now waiting for a couple of months before I get my vaccine.)

My initial symptom, without realising, was a very slightly elevated heart rate during an easy run. I’m very aware of what my heart rate is at rest and various exercise intensities. I didn’t think much of it at the time and presumed it was due to a hard swim (some pb efforts) and gym session in the morning. Later that afternoon I was informed by a friend that she had tested positive so I should isolate and keep an eye out for symptoms. 3 days later I had full blown Covid (elevated resting heart rate, fever, headache, snotty nose and a cough - nausea and the loss of taste and smell came a couple of days later) and a positive test result at the doctors. The doctor put me on blood thinners due to my previous history of blood clots and the concern over Covid increasing the chance of clotting. I also increased my vitamin intake; Vit C, Vit D and Zinc.

Normally I go a bit crazy doing no exercise but I had no energy or wanted to do anything. I was beginning to feel better, then on day 8 felt awful again and slept most of the day. By day 10 I felt human again, my resting heart rate was back to normal and I was beginning to feel an urge to get outside into the fresh air. I was very fortunate that my cough had cleared up quickly.

My first ‘exercise’ post Covid was a walk and some stretching. It felt good to get my body moving again. I wore my heart rate monitor to keep an eye on any irregularities. For the first week I walked, did some very easy spinning on Zwift, easy mountain biking, easy swimming and some gentle gym work, whilst always checking my heart rate and keeping it in zone 1 and 2 (basically under 144 BPM). I had wondered if I would be short of breath when swimming but it felt the same as pre Covid. My first run (easy 8km) was at the end of week 1 post Covid. I kept my heart rate under 144. My lungs and breathing were totally fine but my pace at zone 2 heart rate wasn’t very fast; possibly the after effects of the virus elevating my heart rate or loss of fitness….or both?!

The second week post covid my coach introduced a few small efforts on the bike and swimming, but still keeping my heart rate low. I’m pretty diligent at writing notes after my workouts so my coach could see how things were going. My heart rate was still a bit higher than it should have been at various powers/efforts.

My body felt fine, but I just felt like I had lost a lot of fitness.

At the start of week 4 post Covid I was ready to crack on with my training as normal (training for Knysna Extreme Triathlon - I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to race having had Covid but have now given myself the go ahead!) and at the end of that week smashed a tough 5hr Zwift session on the Saturday and a 30km off road run on the Sunday. So it seems I have bounced back well.

Everyone is different and everyone recovers differently after illnesses. I think I was very lucky to get over Covid so quickly but also the fact that I was very healthy and fit before I got ill enabled me to power through the virus!

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