How to train after covid?

TLDR: Got covid (first time). How should I get back into training? What pitfalls and risks might I encounter? What kind of time horizon should I be thinking about?

I recently contracted covid for the first time. Timing was awful; it happened just before two races.

First race was 7 days after the start of the symptoms. I made a last minute decision to participate because I had never slept so well the night before a race (7 pm ~ 4 am). Looking back, that might have just been a result of being so fatigued from poor sleep during the height of the symptoms the week prior. I didn’t go particularly hard since I still had trouble breathing through my nose. I felt okay during the event and the subsequent days.

The second race was 19 days after the start of the symptoms. Although I didn’t feel fully recovered, there were no noticeable symptoms. So I paced it at race pace. About 2 hrs into the event, my body just shut down. I voluntarily stepped off the bike to lie down on the ground. After about 10 minutes, my heart rate was still elevated at 130bpm. Eventually I recovered and rolled my way to the finish line (luckily almost entirely downhill from that point). My legs felt fine, but I just had no capacity to push.

Fast forward two days after the event and all my covid symptoms resurfaced (fatigue, fever, nasal blockage, coughing, sore throat, etc.) Fast forward another two days, almost all symptoms are gone. And for the first time I feel like I’m just a few days away from a full recovery.

I’m looking to the community for some anecdotes and insights for what the road back to training might look, if there are any potential pitfalls and risks that might arise, and suggestions/advice for getting back to a full training load.

Thanks!

First, congrats on being one of the last standing.

There’s a COVID mega thread that might be a bit long to digest at this point.

Anecdotally, the best indicator for me was heart rate vs RPE. It took about 4 weeks for my heart rate to return to normal and I used it to guide when I should return to training at anything greater than zone 1/2. If I felt fatigue at any point, I ended the workout.

Having the acute symptoms rebound is definitely not good; it means your immune system lost the battle vs the virus (at least temporarily). The prevailing wisdom is that you should not rush back into training, and at most doing short/low effort workouts to feel out your progress. You are not gaining fitness during recovery, so the best you can hope for is a quick recovery by letting your body rest.

Good luck.

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That is basically exactly what I did as well. It took an additional couple of weeks until I could perform near my previous level though. Don’t rush it.

Being out of the loop comes with the territory when you’re late to the party. Found the mega thread. Thanks!

Looks like I very much should not have entered either races. Hopefully this latest strain isn’t as powerful and I haven’t induced any permanent damage.

Yeah, i got it the first time this past January. During and in the week and half after my resting HR went from crazy high (25 bpm high) to slightly high (5 higher). I did not really start training until it got within 5bpm of pre covid. I have nothing to base this on, but seemed to work out fine. Kept it all z2 train for a week, then did some Z3 and definitely kept an eye on HR to not let it creep up into z4.

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Honestly, covid recover is the first time a wearable was truely useful. If i did not have it i wouldve had no idea my resting HR was so out of wack and i may have return to training early with possible consequences

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I am just getting over my first bout with covid too, and I’m following the Graduated Return to Play Protocol that I found linked in another another covid thread: https://www.trainingpeaks.com/coach-blog/returning-to-training-and-racing-after-covid-19/

I figure less now to do more later hopefully, rather than more now and less later. That said, I really can’t find anything other than “anecdata” to support that idea - I haven’t found anything in the way of actual studies to support a certain protocol. In the absence of that, I’m also keeping a close eye on my resting heart rate (back to normal after being 20 points elevated) and what my heart rate does on the trainer (so far, exactly where I would expect to be in Z2). It felt pretty silly to hop off of the trainer after 15 minutes that barely made me break a sweat, but today I get to graduate to 30 minutes. Woo hoo.

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I got covid 3 weeks ago. But being an old fart (age 70) has consequences. I know my recovery will take longer than that for you youngsters. I presume all this is useful information:

  1. Returning to physical activity after covid-19
  2. Reduced athletic performance post-COVID-19 is associated with reduced anaerobic threshold

Since I’m dealing with an elevated heart rate, this Wahoo thread is comforting:

Accordingly I will be doing a number of Z1 workouts until my HR behaves. I guess I’m going to learn patience. Anyhow, knowing that i will eventually be back on the bike to where I was before makes me happy. Yesterday, I was bummed. Cheers to all who have successfully recovered!