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Post Covid-19 Run

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 Planeandsimple 08 Apr 2020

Back running again after taking an almost 5 week sabbatical from running due to the obvious illness, felt amazing to put some distance in the legs and run over some chunky trails with good footwork.

Just before getting ill I was signed up for some ultra type races, don't think these are on the cards now because they are either cancelled or too soon for me to get back to fitness. Just in case you were thinking you are too fit to get it or are guaranteed an easy ride through because you've got outstanding endurance I can tell you that unfortunately you're wrong. Be careful, up to the day before I got hit hard I felt perfectly normal for my point in the training cycle and I was fell running marathon distances easily on the weekends with over 3000m of elevation in a week.

Week before. Minor eye infection, thought might have been some stray dust getting in there on a night run, thought nothing of it.

Day 1. Woke up early for my Long run, felt disorientated and really tired, my lungs felt like I'd smoked a packet of fags on a night out and I was short of breath. Slight nausea, went back to sleep thinking I might be lazy and run later in the day. This turned to just call it an extra rest day when I woke up. Very light fever. 
Days 2-4. Condition worsened and I came round to the fact I may have it, lungs felt like I could only breathe half of their capacity. Headaches and fatigue were common. Very light fever.
Days 5-6. Felt better, lungs cleared up a lot and I felt lucky that I'd probably had it mild. Very light fever. I went for a walk at the end of day 6 and could barely keep up with my partner, old injuries 10+ years old flared up, I was hobbling, lame and completely out of breath for most of the walk.
Days 7-10. Gradual regression with day 10 ending with me needing to lie on my front to breathe, taking regular gasps. I said to myself that if it was this bad throughout the night I would consider A+E. Stronger fever. Did genuinely worry that permanent lung damage was likely.
Day 11-14. Better, marginal gains with my lungs. Nausea, fever and other symptoms all disappeared on day 12.

Week 3 and 4. Reduced lung capacity, occasional gasping, more serious coughing fits, I guess as my lungs started to shift the mucus. No want for exercise, still fatigued from illness. Started doing cystic fibrosis massages to shift more mucus, these are very useful. Walking regularly to build up fitness.

Week 5. Lung capacity increasing, first run today. HR beating in my usual Z3/4 when I'm running at what would be a steady Z2 pace. Chest felt tighter than usual when breathing deeply but that's probably due to inflexible scar tissue.

My partner, luckily got 3 days of mild symptoms with only an evening of shortness of breath. She recovered well and her recovery fatigue only lasted 2 weeks and was brilliant at helping me get through it.

I feel very lucky to be out running again and lucky that I didn't have it as bad as some. Also lucky that I can postpone my races! psyched for next year.

Health before training, I dread to think how ill I'd have made myself if I'd just ploughed on as I was tempted to do on Day 1 of symptoms. Keep healthy, keep fit, be vigilant.

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 philipivan 08 Apr 2020
In reply to Planeandsimple:

Thanks for posting, what are cystic fibrosis massages?

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 Planeandsimple 08 Apr 2020
In reply to philipivan:

I have been following this guidance using a small dose of breathing vicks/olbas oil to thin the mucus slightly first.

https://www.cff.org/Life-With-CF/Treatments-and-Therapies/Airway-Clearance/

I found the first time I was coughing for a while after, so I would avoid doing it while you're ill incase it does more harm than good, it worked well for my recovery.

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In reply to Planeandsimple:

Good to hear you have recovered.

FWIW my asthma came on as a post viral thing a few years ago, so hopefully that won't be an outcome of this for anyone.

Post edited at 21:50
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 JimR 08 Apr 2020
In reply to Neil Williams:

Thanks for the info, it definitely sounds very nasty. I was sort of hoping that my 12 hours of cycling a week would protect me, but seems not. I’ve taken the liberty of sharing your post with some of my cycling pals

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In reply to JimR:

I think nobody's quite sure but the second bit may be a cytokine storm where a strong immune system is very much *not* an advantage...but why unlike Spanish flu only some people get it I don't know (and nor does anyone else - of course finding that out is key to finding some way to stop it happening - and if such a treatment could be found it then just becomes an annoyance like flu to most people).

Post edited at 22:19
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L PrettyThunder 09 Apr 2020
In reply to Planeandsimple:

> Back running again after taking an almost 5 week sabbatical from running due to the obvious illness, felt amazing to put some distance in the legs and run over some chunky trails with good footwork.

> Just before getting ill I was signed up for some ultra type races, don't think these are on the cards now because they are either cancelled or too soon for me to get back to fitness. Just in case you were thinking you are too fit to get it or are guaranteed an easy ride through because you've got outstanding endurance I can tell you that unfortunately you're wrong. Be careful, up to the day before I got hit hard I felt perfectly normal for my point in the training cycle and I was fell running marathon distances easily on the weekends with over 3000m of elevation in a week.

> Week before. Minor eye infection, thought might have been some stray dust getting in there on a night run, thought nothing of it.

> Day 1. Woke up early for my Long run, felt disorientated and really tired, my lungs felt like I'd smoked a packet of fags on a night out and I was short of breath. Slight nausea, went back to sleep thinking I might be lazy and run later in the day. This turned to just call it an extra rest day when I woke up. Very light fever. 

> Days 2-4. Condition worsened and I came round to the fact I may have it, lungs felt like I could only breathe half of their capacity. Headaches and fatigue were common. Very light fever.

> Days 5-6. Felt better, lungs cleared up a lot and I felt lucky that I'd probably had it mild. Very light fever. I went for a walk at the end of day 6 and could barely keep up with my partner, old injuries 10+ years old flared up, I was hobbling, lame and completely out of breath for most of the walk.

> Days 7-10. Gradual regression with day 10 ending with me needing to lie on my front to breathe, taking regular gasps. I said to myself that if it was this bad throughout the night I would consider A+E. Stronger fever. Did genuinely worry that permanent lung damage was likely.

> Day 11-14. Better, marginal gains with my lungs. Nausea, fever and other symptoms all disappeared on day 12.

> Week 3 and 4. Reduced lung capacity, occasional gasping, more serious coughing fits, I guess as my lungs started to shift the mucus. No want for exercise, still fatigued from illness. Started doing cystic fibrosis massages to shift more mucus, these are very useful. Walking regularly to build up fitness.

> Week 5. Lung capacity increasing, first run today. HR beating in my usual Z3/4 when I'm running at what would be a steady Z2 pace. Chest felt tighter than usual when breathing deeply but that's probably due to inflexible scar tissue.

> My partner, luckily got 3 days of mild symptoms with only an evening of shortness of breath. She recovered well and her recovery fatigue only lasted 2 weeks and was brilliant at helping me get through it.

> I feel very lucky to be out running again and lucky that I didn't have it as bad as some. Also lucky that I can postpone my races! psyched for next year.

> Health before training, I dread to think how ill I'd have made myself if I'd just ploughed on as I was tempted to do on Day 1 of symptoms. Keep healthy, keep fit, be vigilant.

Your content helped me a lot to take my doubts, thank you very much.

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 Planeandsimple 09 Apr 2020
In reply to JimR:

> Thanks for the info, it definitely sounds very nasty. I was sort of hoping that my 12 hours of cycling a week would protect me, but seems not. I’ve taken the liberty of sharing your post with some of my cycling pals

I had thought along the same lines, I was running about 10hours a week and I never get knocked down by an illness. I did wonder about the cytokine storm thing but I guess I'll never know. If I escaped that without medical treatment I should consider myself double lucky that I'm back running again.

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L davideostar 10 Apr 2020

I'm also recovering from covid19.

I'm on week three and as someone who is very fit it has been truly horrendous. Don't rush back into activity soon, especially running. Take it easy, mix walking with jogging.

You can confirm yourself with a doctor or friends who are doctors, but they have seen a spike in cases in which someone who has recovered then falls unwell again a few weeks later. It is thought the viral load still exists and your body may have not fought it off entirely. The last thing you want is for this to come back, as your immune system will already be stressed from weeks of fighting this strange virus that has such a variety of horrible symptoms. I can confirm that fitness level has no correlation to severity or duration of illness.

Be careful and keep well.

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 Planeandsimple 17 Apr 2020
In reply to davideostar:

Hey well soon mate. It's a funny one. I've kept up my running, just gently. I'm on run number 4. Averaging about 1 hr per run in z1/z2 pace so fairly light.

My third run my body seemed to relax into it more, normal HRs for the pace, that I would have had 4 months ago. I'm making sure I rest sufficiently, eat and drink enough. 

There is light at the end of the tunnel, stay strong and remember to breathe. 

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 Deleted bagger 18 Apr 2020
In reply to Planeandsimple:

I must say I'm heartily pleased for you.

Keep it going.

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L davideostar 20 Apr 2020
In reply to Planeandsimple:

I've migrated to road cycling as the jogging seems more difficult then you would expect. Given the weather we are having now there's never been a better time to get back into it with warmer air in the lungs.

Slow recovery for post-covid19 runs!

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In reply to Planeandsimple:

Thank you for posting this. I think I'm day 5 today and it's made me feel loads better about the feeling of tightness in my chest and reduced lung capacity. 

How do you feel now?

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In reply to Planeandsimple:

A really good post, thanks for taking the time and trouble. I'm very glad to hear you're on the mend, but I will state the obvious and stress that you should still take it easy and listen to your body. Sounds like you're on the case, so this is more for the benefit of other readers maybe. 

I came down pretty hard with what was very clearly 'it' on day 2 or 3 of lockdown, though in hindsight was showing early signs several days before that. I was really quite ill for around 10 days. But even after that I found symptoms, particularly fatigue and breathlessness, would come and go seemingly at random, and a surprise gift of around 10 days of no sense of taste seemed cruel just when I thought I was basically over it. 

For the first few weeks even short runs round the block were leaving me tired the following day, so I took it very carefully. Recovery seems to be more of a rollercoaster than a linear progression. 

I'm on something like week 8 now and have finally felt safe to start upping the running distance and uphills for around the last 10 days or so, and we're still talking only a few kms. Lungs finally feel like they're working on full capacity though, touch wood...

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 Planeandsimple 19 May 2020
In reply to Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com:

Hi Dan,

I've built back up slowly, running with my partner, progressing my long runs by 30 mins a week. I have now managed a 3hr long fell run, but my recovery times are longer, particularly after strength work, and my pace has a lower upper limit. When trying to push flat out it feels similar to attempting to sprint at altitude, simply no way to go as fast as you'd like.

It's nice to be on more social runs, a slower pace than I'd normally go but it's building my aerobic base back nicely. I'm going to be a way off my race form for a while but I'm sure it will come. I definitely feel like I had a bit of a breakthrough on my last long run. I saw a significant improvement in my ability to control my breathing and stay in easy Z2 uphill.

Glad to hear you're doing better, bit by bit, it interests me what the affect of altitude would have. Although I doubt I'll be testing that this summer.

Post edited at 18:13
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 mountainbagger 19 May 2020
In reply to Planeandsimple:

Interesting, thanks for posting. Couple of other cases for comparison:

My brother is almost 10 weeks in and is still unable to run. He's now walking up to 3 miles, but the walking only started being possible a couple of weeks ago. He somehow managed not to give it to his partner and son, nor the person he was sharing a room with skiing and who hired a car and drove him all the way back to blighty when he first came down with it.

My colleague (sat next to me at work!) is also almost 10 weeks in and cannot run yet, though unlike my brother was never really a runner. His wife and two kids (twins aged about 9) got it at the same time and all took many weeks to recover (him and one son still not back to normal). He thought he was going to die at one point and was very worried for his family. He managed not to infect any colleagues (including me) nor his 80+ yr old parents he spent a couple of hours visiting the day before the sudden emergence of symptoms. Nor his extremely vulnerable brother-in-law who was also visiting his parents with his sister. That was a relief, once a couple of weeks had passed and they still had no symptoms.

Both very similar symptoms but not identical. Both experienced periods of feeling a bit better then relapses. Both had complications and possible bacterial infections. Extreme tiredness, lots of sleeping etc.

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 Clarence 19 May 2020
In reply to Planeandsimple:

I had mild symptoms at easter, fever, flu and cough for about five days. I still cant walk half a mile without feeling like collapsing. I had just started Parkruns before they stopped and I feel it may be many months before I get back to running 5k. 

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In reply to Planeandsimple:

Any Tips on Recovering from Covid-19?

Thanks so much for your post and all the others.  I'm a 53 year old marathon and ultra runner and have had the virus - in my 6th week now, very similar to other posts.  I am continuing to experience tiredness, chest ache and bursts of racing pulse (which doc says is likely adrenaline released by the body detecting low oxygen levels).  Symptoms vary - a week ago after easy walks I had decided to try a gentle run the next day - but the next day I relapsed and last week felt as bad as week 2.   Your blog has encouraged me that I'm not alone (was feeling a bit sorry for myself especially since rest of my household were totally unaffected).  

I wondered if there is any good advice out there on anything I can do, other than rest, to encourage my lungs to recover and speed the recovery process??    

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In reply to Charlie Nobbs:

Hopefully someone will publish something. I did mention it on uphill athlete. We are definitely not alone and I have read in multiple places about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome occuring if you push the training too early. Unfortunately the science is new, it will be interesting to see how it evolves.

I just tried to stick with what felt right, it's not easy. I really had to let my expectations go, psychologically this was and is a challenge. 

I really hope you recover soon. Stay safe and healthy. 

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In reply to Planeandsimple:

Having had 2 family members with long term CFS, one of our first Corona virus thoughts was that there's going to be a lot of people who end up with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Allow yourself time to recover properly - it sounds like you're doing this by changing your expectations - I presume you're effectively targeting 2021 and treating the rest of 2020 as recovery+training.

"psychologically this was and is a challenge" - IMO (from experience of many with CFS), you're much more likely to get CFS if you're somebody who's always doing and pushing; lazy farts (like me 😁) are much less likely to get it.

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 abcdef 14:04 Mon
In reply to Planeandsimple and Charlie Nobbs:

"My partner, luckily got 3 days of mild symptoms"

"rest of my household were totally unaffected"

Are there any other runners in the house? Wondering if anything particular about high mileage runners lungs make them more susceptible (as i'm sure I remember several weeks ago reading a theory about a link between smokers having some sort of protection).

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In reply to Planeandsimple:

I'm listening to the British Ultrarunning podcast with beast Jim Mann - he seems to have COVID-19 and is still suffering effects months later.  As the dust settles I'm guessing that there's going to be a large number of post viral fatigue sufferers.  All the more reason to do our best not to get this virus - even though being fit not 'at risk' some of us might think in the back of our minds that if we get it, it won't be too bad.

Hope you and everyone else on the rest of the thread feel fully better soon.

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In reply to abcdef:

My wife also runs - she had a sore throat for 2 days (possibly the virus) but has been unaffected.  Neither of us smoke or ever have.

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In reply to Planeandsimple:

Thanks.  I gather that dealing with CFS involves doing regular gentle exercise even when you feel tired - eg 30 mins walking.  This is what I've been trying; sometimes longer.  I think you're right about expectations - I was having a bit of a relapse end of last week and feeling pretty low.   If you do hear any more on recovery please do post.

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