Respiratory illness and effect on RPE and HR during exercise

I had a cold where symptoms began right at end of September and lasted about 10 days. I had 4 negative lateral flow tests and 1 negative PCR test for Covid 19 during this period.

The symptoms over the period were tickly throat, sore throat, cough, sneeze, blocked nose, non stop running nose. The symptoms severity and emphasis varying over the 10 days.

I stayed off the bike during symptoms just going for an easy walk each day. Once symptoms cleared I got on the bike and kept intensity low for the next 7 days. A week after symptoms had cleared I introduced some higher intensity efforts on a few local hills. I also went out on my bike with my wife a week after symptoms had cleared.

I discovered a few things. My RPE was out of kilter with my HR. The RPE being much higher than the HR (and it’s climb ratio) would indicate. My average HR which is usually 10 bpm below my wife’s was 10 bpm above hers on the same outing. She was also beasting me up hills where I felt I didn’t want to push any harder.

To give an indication of RPE to HR. A couple of weeks after symptoms cleared, my RPE at 125 bpm felt more like what it would be at 145 bpm. Not only that but I really didn’t want to push harder despite not being anywhere near my max HR.

A month on (this morning) on a two hour ride with my wife, things are closer to normal. My average HR being 3 bpm below her average. Not as big a difference as before my cold but getting there.

I’m guessing this means the cold virus was still circulating in my system, and I had residual inflammation in lungs / heart despite symptoms clearing.

Certainly a reminder that just because symptoms have cleared , doesn’t mean you are fully recovered.

Anyone else experienced similar / have an explanation for the cause?

All of this. As I have gotten older it takes longer to recover, particularly from respiratory illnesses. Just getting back at it after a month. Finished my last event in early october. Immediately got sick, 10 days later felt good, ramp tested. Got sick again. A week later started super easy 30 min rides and ramped from there. This is the first week of any real intensity. My only change vs. the past is at least getting these easy rides going vs. waiting til I was 100%. I think it did help.

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