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Guidelines on Return to Play post Covid

Note this means following a positive test, not just if you feel ill.

We dont know yet what the long term impacts of Covid and the Omnicom variant are, and so even if you feel fine, in my opinion, it's not worth risking it. It's far better to lose some weeks from training, than potentially losing months or more with heart and respiratory issues brought on by doing too much, too soon.

 

As The World Triathlon Organisation says: "An infection of COVID 19 is known to be associated with severe acute and probably also chronic damage to health. Not only the lungs but also the cardiovascular system, the central and peripheral nervous systems, skeletal muscle, the liver and kidneys are affected in acute phase....The risk of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart) exists in a mild course or even for asymptomatic COVID 19 patients, and could be associated to sudden cardiac death." 

 

And don't think you're immune to risk by being healthier than the average person, there's lots of very healthy people who have suffered severe impacts from Long Covid and Covid associated health issues. 

However, my original guidelines (see below) seem rather extreme for the more mild symptoms most people are suffering with Omnicom, therefore I have updated them to be more pragmatic. 

 

Before you get ill - collect baseline info

  • Ensure you are regularly wearing your HRM (chest strap, not wrist watch) for all exercise so that you know what your normal HR is for a given intensity, and have data to compare back to.

  • And ideally know your resting HR each morning (easiest to do by wearing your watch overnight if it has an optical sensor. Even if you don't regularly wear your watch at night it's worth doing for a week or so to have a baseline to compare. Women should know how it varies with menstrual cycle)

  • Respect your rest days and weeks, if you're run down then you're more likely to be vulnerable 

Updated guidelines - March 2022

If you get ill/ test positive, then rest until feeling better. Don't be tempted to come back too soon, you'll probably just delay your return. Yes, even if you have a race coming up, especially if you have a race coming up, focus on getting well again! (you can spend the spare time on rolling, stretching, meal prep, race planning, mobility and stability work) 

Once you're feeling better, slowly return to exercise. Begin with short easy sessions, ideally close to home so that if you don't feel great you can cut it short and keeping an eye on HR. If you feel more fatigued than normal, or your HR is higher than normal, and especially if your HR is spiking, then cut it short and go back to resting.

 

Even if you feel fine, ease yourself back in, all easy sessions, building in time for the first week back. And dont just jump onto the next session on your training plan, if the sessions are progressive and you've missed more than a week then go back to the first one you missed, or do a 'bridge' session between the one you missed and the last one, to ease you back in. 

If you're off ill for more than a few weeks then I would follow the guidelines below rather than these updated ones. 

Original guidelines: 

  • Whilst ill: Total rest 

  • First day symptom free (including fatigue etc): 7 further days of total rest 

  • After 7 days from symptom free: 10 days of just EASY walking/ Z1 turbo/ easy yoga, pilates or mobility 

  • After 10 days of very easy movement: Reintroduce EASY (z2) exercise as one day on, one day off pattern based on 15 mins, day off, 30 mins, day off, 45 mins, day off. If running then do as easy run with few mins easy run, 30 secs walk. 

  • If at any point symptoms return then back to total rest

  • When exercising, including walking, wear HRM and keep an eye on HR to ensure no unusual spikes (compared to your normal, again wrist watches are not good enough for this, they will be spiking all the time) 

  • Then gradually return to normal training by increasing gradually over the next month 

I know that you'll be desperate to get back to training, and no, there is no clear evidence that Omicron carries the same risks, but neither is there evidence that it doesn't. See the reduction in training time as an opportunity to invest in yourself to build resilience for when you do return to training, for example: 

Further information:

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