Even before I get started, a big disclaimer. DO NOT try this at home – please consult your doctor before you attempt any of this and most likely he will say a no.
I had been quite active lately making the best use of the period between the 2 Covid waves in India. I was running almost daily and playing badminton or soccer often. I had completed an under 2 hour half marathon in early April and ran up 2.5km on a 12% incline in 14 min. I felt good! This was until I woke up feeling slightly groggy after an afternoon nap on April 19th and the thermometer read 100. I won’t go into the details of covid, but just a few points. I had an excellent doctor who kept me on minimal medicines. I had 10 days of fever with a bad cough but the fever only crossed 101 once. I was feeling quite active and good till day 4 when energy levels dropped a bit. I was still restless. I was never breathless and SpO2 never dropped below 98.
I was counting down to day 15 eagerly – when I could step out and breathe fresh. Most of my symptoms were gone or mellow. I still had a mild cough, no sense of smell, and a slightly elevated pulse. I was up at 5 am and went out for a walk. I think I walked about 5km at a slow place and still felt a little winded. I slowed down when needed but kept going. It took almost an hour to walk just 5.
The daily walks continued for the next few days. I increased the pace a little bit and the distance to about 8. I was walking nearly an hour and a half by day 4/5. My doctor had told me not to run for a week. I pushed my luck a little bit and jogged 500 meters on day 5 and about 1.5km on day 6. I always stopped when I felt winded or tired and then got home and drank a lot of water. The cough was fully gone by now and the pulse had got down to nearly normal. On the flip side, my Garmin had started to show my VO-Max at 50, a point lower than pre-covid. Most of my workouts were showing up as unproductive, but I carried on.
Day 7 was my first 5 km run in about 35 minutes. It was my first feeling of life coming back. I got home and did a 20 minute lower body workout focusing on squats, glute bridges, and lunges. I was beginning to feel more energetic and the muscles re-activating. My thighs hurt for the next few days but I didn’t step back. I took a day of leg rest with an upper-body workout and then got back to 5-7km of running every day. I was doing 70-minute runs covering 10 km by end of the week. I was also able to do some fast walks post these runs and that gave me some confidence that I had some energy to spare.
The turning point was day 13 when I did a mix of an 8 km run and a 4 km walk and then followed it up by a killing 13 km fast walk with a friend who has some crazy pace. We were doing 8:30 min for a km. I got back home drained and tired but there was hope – I had pulled through, even though the legs were hurting.
I ran another 10 in about 75 min on day 14 and then paced it up to 11 in an hour for day 15. The next few days I ran around 10-12 km every day in about 75-90 min. Day 18 it was pouring and I still chose to run. Day 19 was the first major break I took, just walking around and not pushing my legs at all. Day 20 was another 10km at the usual pace.
Day 21 – I wasn’t really planning a long run. I was meeting a friend in a little over an hour and I hoped to finish 11km by then. I left my phone in the car and did an 11km loop in just under an hour. I was kicked. A quick sip of Gatorade and a glance at my phone told me that I had more time, my friend was late. Instead of the straight 2 km route to his house, I went around 2 large blocks on a route that was nearly 8 km and I took a small detour to make it a total of 20km before I met him. He was nice enough to let me run the last km and finish my fastest 21 yet – in 1:56.