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Advice / lessons learned when getting back to running after a virus / suspected Covid-19
May 10, 2020

Advice / lessons learned when getting back to running after a virus / suspected Covid-19

Don't think because you are fit and under 70 that covid-19 poses no risk to you.

Evidence is emerging that covid-19 can directly target the heart as well as lungs - and because most of us are good at ignoring pain when running - we are probably more at risk.

Even after mild covid-19, there is a higher risk of blood clots. Runners typically ignore the first signs of a blood clot in your calf - it just feels like a calf strain and we get those all the time. Over the last 2 years , I know 5 runners who have had blood clots myself included. With covid, this risk will go up. Blood clots can be serious , if you ignore the pain in your calf, and carry on running and the blood clot moves to your lungs and can kill you!

I'm writing this after going for an easy 5k run and hitting a max pulse of 217 !!

This was 8 weeks after suspected covid-19, and clearly I'm not fully recovered yet!

That prompted a call to my GP and I'm now added to the Cardiology waiting list.

My experience suggests that for some people it can take several months to recover from even a mild dose of this new virus... and there is a possible risk of permanent damage if you don't listen to your body!

Here's the quick back story -

Week 1- I had a fever, cough, and breathing difficulties ski touring in Austria in March, plus some other symptoms which I didn't think matched Covid.

It didn't help that I tried to ignore it and kept going for 4 days ... until I was coughing up blood.

I have asthma and I'm used to dealing with asthma attacks. I had my inhalers with me which helped to keep my airways open.

If you get any covid-19 symptoms even if they are mild , best rest and take plenty of fluids.

Week 2 - I was back home, self-isolating but still not recovering - so was sent for a Covid-19 test. It came back negative. All good I thought , I will start getting better now.

I was advised I could go back to work and start doing normal activities again.

I did get better for a few days - then went for a run and pushed it up a hill and next day I was coughing up blood again. By end of week 4 I was still getting worse, and GP put me on antibiotics for suspected secondary infection / pneumonia. This was all done over the phone - I wasn't sick enough to go into A&E , and GP was closed for appts.

Weeks 6-8 , I started to improve, energy levels went up and I could do more again. I started doing more cycling and running, within limits of lockdown exercise. I could nearly keep up with the rest of the family by now - but then on a run from home , I pushed it up a hill, got a tight chest and my pulse jumped from 130 to over 200. Normally my max pulse rate is about 175.

Since then I've gone back to taking it easy again , I'm enjoying easy walks and cycles until my body is fully recovered!

I should have wised up several weeks ago - so sharing this story now - best reset your expectations - some folk might recover from mild covid-19 in 2 weeks , for others it will take longer... and longer still until you can really push your heart and lungs hard up a hill.

Clearly we are all different and I am not medically trained - this is my story.

My GP now thinks I probably did have Covid-19 , apparently the test is less accurate when done a long time after first symptoms.

Here is another article on what it feels like to have Covid from the The British Journal of Medicine (BMJ) blog



Jamie Thin

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