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The coronavirus experience

When I took this photo a couple of weeks ago, on a lovely, quiet Sunday morning run near my house, little did I know it would be my last run for a while.

The next day, Richard started displaying symptoms of Covid-19 and so our period of self-isolation began.  Only days later, I started experiencing symptoms too.  Now, a couple of weeks later and with both of us recovering, I wanted to share our experience of coronavirus and our plans for returning to running.

Symptoms

Richard and I both experienced this virus very differently, which seems to be common.  Bear in mind we are both fit, healthy and relatively young (under 45 at least!) with no underlying health conditions.

Where Richard experienced a fever, headache, fatigue, lethargy and generally feeling like he’d been hit by a bus, I had much milder symptoms of a tickly cough, headache and tiredness.

For days, Richard couldn’t even get out of bed and spent most of the day asleep.  He had no appetite and he fluctuated wildly between feeling roasting hot and freezing cold.  He was out of breath even just walking to the bathroom.

In the meantime, the worst part for me was extremely painful legs that started out feeling like I’d run an ultra (achy and restless) and ended up keeping me awake at night with pain in my hamstrings.

Recovery

Richard’s symptoms continued for around 10 days, with a slight break around day 6 when he thought he’d turned a corner, but actually he hadn’t and felt worse again the next day.

For me symptoms lasted around 7 days, but I still can’t smell or taste anything.

Returning to running

I was keen to get back to running as soon as possible, so once our symptoms subsided I decided to attempt a 30 minute run.  It was like I’d stepped into a time machine and gone back to 2015 when I first started running – I was tomato-red in the face, gasping for breath and managed a measly 2.5 miles.  What a shock to the system!

After dragging myself up the stairs to get back home (which really was the final obstacle and finished me off) and berating myself for 10 minutes, I took a deep breath and gave myself a talking to.

We all know the advice that, if a cold or illness is above the neck, then training is generally ok, but if it’s below the neck or is accompanied by a fever then you should generally rest.   So really, I don’t know what I had expected from my first run back after a virus that had left me short of breath anyway.  It was nice to leave the house though after two weeks of being in isolation.

What now?

After that run, I felt a bit rough again for a couple of days – blocked sinuses and a slight chesty feeling.  Whilst exercise and keeping fit is great for our immune system, it also stresses the body.  So I took the decision to have a few more days off to aid my recovery.  In the grand scheme of things, the fitness I’ll lose by taking another week off will be minimal in comparison to the damage I might do by stressing my immune system too much, too soon.

My plan now is to gradually phase a return to running, starting with some brisk walks to get back into it before gradually building back up with 2 – 3 runs a week, slowly building up to an hour a time and being sure to listen to my body.

I’ve also invested in a skipping rope so that I can do jump rope and circuits workouts at home.  Since having the virus, we’ve been especially careful not to leave the house at all, even though we are both now recovered.

Follow the rules

I’m not a qualified medical professional and by no means an expert, and so any advice is only given from the benefit of our experience and that which is provided by Public Health England.

Whilst we would both love to be out running, especially on trails (which is our favourite place to be) we are both conscious of our social and moral responsibility.  Please follow the rules around social distancing and self-isolation where applicable.  If we all obey the rules, we can help the NHS and save lives.  Plus, life will return to ‘normal’ much quicker if we work together to reduce the spread of this virus.

Be safe and stay healthy.

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