How Can Runners Deal with Post-Covid-19

In today’s episode of #RunPainFree, Coach Jessica Marie Rose Leggio discusses how Covid-19 infection affects athletes. She also discusses how runners with healthy and well-developed lungs can get back running. She also shares how you can safely return to running and get back on track after dealing with respiratory complications.

Running Post Covid

Getting back to running after suffering from a Covid infection can be more challenging than you think. Running is an endurance sport that is demanding and requires high levels of stamina and endurance. It also requires a healthy and correct rhythm between the way your heart and lungs operate. In other words, if either the heart or the lungs fall out of this well-balanced rhythm, you are going to experience many difficulties when trying to run longer distances. The disruption of this rhythm is inevitable when dealing with a Covid infection because this is a high respiratory virus that primarily attacks your lungs. Thus, even well-trained runners and professional athletes will feel extreme fatigue and exhaustion due to this virus infection.

“If you’re not somebody who’s ever dealt with anything lung-wise or breathing-wise, you’re gonna be struck by the results or fallout from having this type of respiratory tax on your body.”

Take Your Time

The most important thing when it comes to running after Covid is to take your time. Many athletes who experience a Covid infection think that they are ready to get back on track as soon as they feel better. However, getting straight back to running is a mistake that can lead to injury, demotivation, and even more respiratory complications or relapse (which is happening to many).

The reason is simple – your body won’t be ready to take up running right away. Your lungs will be so exhausted after dealing with the infection that even the simplest tasks might get you tired too soon, let alone something as demanding as running. Remember, your lungs have to work very hard to get the virus out of your system, and this battle will leave them exhausted for weeks to come. Instead of having high expectations when getting back on terrain, start by introducing light activities to retrain your lungs before running again.  

“You have to honor how much your body went through to fight it, and it’s not gonna be over in a week; that’s unrealistic.” 

Get Back on Track

Thinking you’re going to get back running right after testing negative after day 10 of having it passes, is unrealistic. This respiratory virus takes a severe toll on your lungs and significantly impacts your ability to run continuously. However, this doesn’t mean you cannot get back to the level you were at or even exceed your previous skills.

As long as you don’t push your body to start running right away, you will be able to gradually train your heart and lungs and build up the necessary endurance. To do so, you should begin to slow and introduce one physical activity per day. Keep track of your heart rate when resting and engaging in physical activities to ensure there are no irregularities. It might take two to three weeks of consistent light training before you can hit the road again. As long as you understand how your new set of lungs works, you will be able to build back your endurance.

“This is just another way to get your body better. It’s just gonna put you on another level of understanding how your body operates, understanding what your body can and can’t do, honoring that and working with that.”

Key Learning Points:

  • Healthy athletes with well-developed lungs can suffer even graver respiratory consequences after a Covid infection.
  • It is essential to honor the time your body needs to recover instead of pushing your limits. 
  • Make sure to start slow – practice one light activity per day before getting back to running.

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