POST-COVID: return to running
For a long time I tried incredibly hard to avoid Covid. I was (and probably still am) a bit of a covid freak. I was determined not to get it, however, catching it at some point was inevitable. Slowly it was getting closer and closer. My dad caught it, then my mum, then my boyfriend, and surprise surprise, I was next. However, I was bizarrely relieved. With the Commonwealth Games looming, I was going to get it at some point, so it was good to have got it with still enough time to go to take my time recovering properly. Fortunately, I was quite lucky and didn’t react too badly. I had one day feeling a bit off, 2 days feeling quite rough, and then I was quickly back to normal. That being said, like any illness, you need to respect it when you return to running. So, how did my return to running after covid look?
When did I run?
Obviously being a typical runner, the temptation is to keep running through, but when ill your body has to work hard to fight whatever it is fighting, and running can do a lot more damage and no real good. Therefore I stopped running as soon as I felt funny and tested positive. I then didn’t return to running until I’d had a full day symptom free (besides a remaining runny nose). This ensured my body had done the majority of the fighting and I wasn’t going to overload it.
How did running feel?
Easy running actually felt pretty good and normal. It was great to get outside again and move my body. My legs felt a little heavier than normal, but my body itself felt ok. My heart rate had returned to normal, but my breathing was a little bit faster and more irregular. I just kept my runs really easy and relaxed. I tried not to think too much about how I was feeling as at this point I would just be overthinking. In order to help my breathing, I just focused on being relaxed.
When did I session?
I didn’t want to risk doing a hard session until I was sure I was completely better. Therefore after a few days of easy running, I did a half session. I just did some short hill reps followed by a steady effort run. I felt much better than expected, so this was a good indicator that I was ready to get back to it. I personally found it best to do a half session as my first session as it also ensured I didn’t push too hard too soon. I could get more body working again, but not risk ending up absolutely spent. I then followed this again with a few easy days, before I tried a higher effort session. This did feel a little harder than normal, and I didn’t feel great, but it was to be expected after a little while out from the routine of hard training.
How did I increase the volume?
Due to the fact I hadn’t been out of training for very long, the return to full volume didn’t take long. I had an easier week and then the following week I gradually built it up to normal volume. The important thing is to listen to how you feel and be governed by this. If you have a few days back training and then start to feel worse, take a step back. Rushing it will do a lot more detriment than taking your time. Also, if you have a coach, feed back to them how you feel. They can only know what training to set you if you are honest with how you’re feeling. Communication is vital.
Key learning point.
I found it important not to stress or put too much pressure on myself. The most important thing was to recover well, no matter how long it would take. Therefore there was no point stressing about what other people were doing or the fact I wasn’t able to do British Champs, but instead focus on what I could do. Taking every day as it came and not forcing the training was the best way forward. If I didn’t feel as strong as I did a few weeks ago, this was ok. I hadn’t lost any fitness, it just takes a few weeks for the sharpness and flow to return. Remember, don’t force it and be truthful about how you feel on a daily basis.
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I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!