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Whisper it… I might be getting my fitness back

13 February 2023

After three months of covid and a post-covid cold from hell, I’m finally getting back to my pre-covid fitness. It makes me nervous to write this, in case I chase it away, but I also want to record it. If I say it out loud, I can start to believe it.

Early morning intervals are back

Three months sounds like nothing, but feels like forever. At first I was just happy to be able to get outside. But when my garmin beeped a “your stress levels are unusually high” warning at the start of a run, and then repeatedly told me my easy jogs were done at a “threshold” level heart rate, I was worried. How could I listen to my body, when I felt fine but so obviously wasn’t?

Mine was a mild Covid case, with most of the OG symptoms but no cough. I only took one day off work and, after two weeks of no running, I was keen to start again. People who’d had covid (which at this point was pretty much everyone) kept warning me to “take it easy”, and “don’t rush back to exercise”. It sounded like they wanted to add “… or you’ll get long covid”. I tried to find some proper medical advice for post-covid running, but failed. Is there any?

This Runner’s World article is the best summary I could find of what information there is for us to go on. It shares data on elite athletes, which I did not find helpful, but also looks at a big study of fitbit data which finds that the average covid sufferer doesn’t return to regular resting heartrate for 79 days following infection. 79 days is… three months.

Three months after Covid infection, my heart rate is now connected to the effort I’m putting in. I can stay in the “easy” heart rate zone without stopping to walk, and in the past two weeks I’ve run:

  • my first interval session since October 2022;
  • a 5 mile cross-country race, within 15 seconds a mile of my old pace; and
  • an 18 mile long run.

My heartrate looked normal during each of these, and they were all a massive effort and a hideous struggle. I loved them!

It’ s official. I’m back. (fingers crossed)

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