COVID Comeback

written by Clare Molyneux

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A personal journey from our PT and Run Coach Clare Molyneux.

October 17th Ultra Tour of Edinburgh - 57k event with 3000ft of climb and descent - a challenge in anybody’s book! A long day out on the trails, towpaths and streets of Edinburgh. Time cut-offs to beat and the target = to cross the finish line. DONE!

July 17th and a 20 miler at a looped trail run in Dorset. Training has been going well so not expecting out of the blue, mid race: nausea, cough and headache and even then I didn’t realise it was COVID. Double vaccinated since May and I thought it couldn’t happen to me!

In bed for two days with temperature fluctuating and blood oxygen levels down to 93%. From there, recovery was rapid … temperature back to normal, blood oxygen % stabilised and headache gone. In my head started to plan my return to exercise.

A few days later time to attempt the first run. A 20 minute slow run, which turned into a slow run/walk. Heart rate spiked and chest tight and heavy - felt impossible to get enough air into the lungs. Time to get the research in..

Advice was you simply cannot push on with this one, as that risks permanent damage. The after-effects can potentially be worse than the virus itself. Have faith that your body is clever, it will heal (even if that takes a while), and it will give you signs along the way to help. Strategies that worked for me..

1) Cut down the running load to a level where breathing manageable and heart-rate under control - build slowly and walk to bring heart rate back if it spikes. You feel it - but good to check with the trusty GARMIN as well. Load cut by 60%.

RESULT: Gradual increase in running over 8 weeks to SLOW run/walk half marathon distance.

2) Undertake daily breath training with the AIROFIT trainer:

RESULT: Lung capacity doubled over 6 weeks. After 12 weeks almost back to 'normal'.

3) Replace some of the cardio training with mobility/strength to build back 'fitness'. Half hour sessions week 1 building to 2-3 hours by week 12.

RESULT: Weekly diet of Mobility, GRAVITY, Yoga and Bosu gave the body time to recover from heavy running load in the Spring. Flexibility and mobility improved. Heart rate monitored.

4) Careful and consistent monitoring of exercise data to avoid fainting, chest pain, shortness of breath both at rest and exertion, increase in resting heart rate and any palpitations.

RESULT: Over the weeks the data showed an improved recovery rate and less ‘spikes’ in heart rate. Lung fitness visibly improved.

I was LUCKY...

If you struggle with lingering side effects from COVID-19 and have trouble doing even minor physical activity, contact your doctor who is experienced in treating COVID long-haulers. At New Energy Fitness we have trainers who are experienced in working with post-COVID clients. They can work with you on pacing, conserving energy, and building your route back to exercise step by step.

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Written by Clare Molyneux and published on Monday 8th November 2021 at 16:18

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