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  • Writer's pictureDion Finocchiaro

My experience with Covid-19 and what you can learn from it

*Disclaimer* If you are seeking specific answers your circumstances relating to covid-19, I recommend seeking proper healthcare advice. This blog is just merely my experience and thoughts.

So, if you’re reading this you’ve probably had or still have covid-19 and missed some days of running. I hope it’s just a mild case and you have the support that you need.

While there are many unknowns surrounding Covid-19 and its long-term effects. One thing we know for sure is that aerobic exercise and Covid aren’t as well suited as cheese and wine. If anything, quite the opposite.

My isolation period began on Thursday 6th Jan (PCR test day).

It all started on the Wednesday night before bed when I thought I was thirsty and had a dry throat. Once I woke up on Thursday morning, I didn’t feel any better so took a (Rapid Antogen Test) RAT test and was negative but wasn’t convinced. I went for a PCR test which eventually took 5 days to return a result. But, come Thursday evening, deep down I knew. I started experiencing most of the common symptoms. I had a fever, headache, chest pain, sore throat, lethargy, constant sweating, sneezing and a phlegmy cough. Due to my cough, my lungs felt like they were on fire.

Thursday evening through to Monday morning were my rough days that’s for sure.

I tried to keep myself physically engaged with light walking and trying my hand at some really slow jogging on my treadmill. This was all new to me but hearing from others who had been before me, I took it light and just did what my body felt was fair for the day. It was likely more than what current research suggests but needed for my headspace. Besides running, I kept busy with whatever routine I could maintain. Things like making my daily coffee, baking when I felt like it, cleaning (I got a lot done actually) and the obvious things like reading and streaming media.

My week of activities in iso looked like this:

Thursday afternoon – 5km walk @ 7:54/km – jogged last 2km

Friday off (extremely tired) baked bread instead.

Saturday – 10km walk/jog @ 8:15/km (with a portion jogging slowly) while reading a book

Sunday - jogged 15km slowly @ 5:54/km (treadmill was generous)

Monday – 6km walk @ 10:00/km + made veggie lasagne.

Tuesday - walked twice for a total of 14.5km while reading a book

Wednesday – 7km walk @ 10:00/km

My symptoms drastically improved after my days of walking and my lungs really started to settle. They felt like they were on fire with my chesty cough being constant. My cough, gone. My headache, gone. My only symptom was a tickly throat, kind of when you need to clear your throat.

My freedom day was Thursday (13th jan) and I ended up running one of my normal easy loops, 7km and I covered it much slower than usual, 4:45/km and my HR was 131bpm. For perspective, I normally run 4:20/km for that HR.

Return to normal running. Well… That will be based on perceived effort, the feedback from those around me and the quality of my life outside of exercise. I have scaled back all of my running and intervals are gone for the near term. From the abundance of research out there, I’ll listen to the experts. I’ll monitor my HR and allow the infection to take it’s course. I’m aware there will likely be days that I need to take off for adequate recovery, that’s ok. I’ve made appointments to check in with my GP as that’s an important step in managing a safe return to high intensity exercise. My resting HR is now back to normal (36) which is a good sign. I feel comfortable putting my toe back in the water and just being able to go outside again.

My rough plan of weekly running might look something like:

Week 1 - Only easy running and not going over 135 av bpm. Long run 12km max.

Week 2 - Mostly easy running with focus on not going over 145 average bpm.

Week 3 - Will aim to run 2 mini sessions with a cap on how hard I train. Long run still reduced.

Week 4 - Volume creeping back up, quality sessions still reduced. HR on normal runs still expected to be approx 135bpm but faster for the same effort.

I am lucky enough to have a great support network and people willing to drop things off like shopping, other essentials and nice gestures. I’m sure there are many people with no such luxury. My phone was constantly going off with messages of well wishes. They know who they are, thank you all kindly. Isolation would have not been as bearable without the support.

Covid is real and the long-term side effect are not yet known. But from my experience, it seems to affect athletes more than the non-running community. My thoughts why – is why constantly are tapping into our respiratory system and more in sync with it. Whereas non-athletes may have the same symptoms but not tapping into their respiratory system and therefore not fully aware of the virus going on within.

This blog is merely my experiences and by sharing, I hope you have been able to take away something insightful. If you have any specific questions relating to your own covid symptoms, I recommend seeking proper healthcare advice.

Stay safe everyone, thanks for reading.

Dion, head coach of Evolve Run Club

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