When to Resume Training
You should be 100% recovered before you resume training. Covid affects everyone differently, particularly how long the virus is present and the severity of symptoms.
Before you resume training check that you have:
- Had at least 10 days of rest from the onset of Covid
- Had 7 days without any symptoms (week 1 in the 5-step guide below)
If your symptoms have been severe or you've been sidelined for an extended time, get checked by your doctor before you restart (if you haven't already).
5-Step Return to Training
Be patient as you return to training. Your immune system needs time to recover. Subjecting it to pre-Covid levels of activity can compromise your immune system, delay full recovery, and potentially cause long term health issues.
It is important to understand that recovery will vary for everyone. We understand that it is not easy to hold back as an endurance athlete - however we strongly recommend you err on the side of caution and return to training gradually.
- Week 1 (after symptoms have gone): Rest, no training
- Week 2: Zone 1 (e.g. 20 mins cycle or 10 mins jog: 1-2 times)
- Week 3: Zone 1 to 2 (e.g. 30 mins cycle or 15 mins jog: 2-3 times)
- Week 4: Zone 2 (e.g. 45 mins cycle or 22 mins jog: 3-4 times)
- Week 5: Zone 2 (e.g. 60 mins cycle or 30 mins jog 4-5 times)
Stop if you experience breathlessness or fatigue. At every step, review your symptoms, listen to your body and skip back a week if you're not 100% coping with the training.
Check your heart rate metrics after each session and see how this compares to your pre-covid levels. If your heart rate is elevated, reduce the intensity of your workouts until it stabilizes.
Use RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) as your intensity measure.
Return To Full Training
Be patient and follow the 5-step return before returning to your scheduled plan. When ready, scale up the volume, frequency, and intensities gradually until you're ready to align 100% to your scheduled training. Take the time needed to recover after each session.
Don't be tempted to overdo it. Listen to your body and respect the virus by not rushing back too fast. It's better to train consistently at a lower intensity now, than push too hard, too soon, resulting in more time on the sideline due to illness.
Please also check out Phil's blog:
And this online newspaper article from the UK Telegraph - the key points are highlighted below:
- If you had symptoms while you had Covid, 'that means your immune system has struggled a little bit to manage this infection', says Dr Manoj Sivan (University of Leeds).
- You need to bear that in mind during recovery – even if you now feel fine. 'Even though the person does not show symptoms any longer, we don’t know whether that immune system resets completely or not,' Dr Sivan explains.
- When a person exerts themselves straight away to that [pre-Covid] level of activity, they run the risk of actually getting new symptoms and worsening their existing symptoms.
- We believe that is because your immune system is not ready for that kind of challenge yet.
- After illness there’s a period where you’ve got to be very careful that you don’t challenge your immune system too much because if you keep doing it and you keep crashing, it might become permanently dysfunctional – and that is what can lead to long-term problems like chronic fatigue syndrome.
Be patient, listen to your body and respect the virus. Resume full training and return to your pre-covid fitness levels safely and when the time is right. Protect training longevity and future goals.
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