I hope I am not jinxing myself by saying this, but I believe myself to be 100% recovered with no lingering symptoms. In my previous post, I said that this would either be a "normal" recovery or it would turn into my mono-like illness, taking months to recover from.
In retrospect, it seems like it has taken me slightly longer to recover than the average person, but not abnormally long. Here's a recap:
Days 1-2: Mild sore throat
I noticed that my throat was slightly scratchy. It was more of an annoyance than anything else; I had no other symptoms and was fully energized. Thankfully, I didn't run during this time because I was on vacation and was planning to take a few rest days anyway. I took the required Covid test to fly home from Mexico and it was negative.
Days 3-5: Severe sore throat, loss of voice
These were the worst days. I was moderately fatigued but I couldn't eat whole foods and I couldn't speak. I was continually spraying throat-numbing solution down my throat and using NyQuill to sleep. My at-home Covid test was negative on day 3, but positive on day 5.
Days 6-12: Body aches, coughing fits, skin rash, fatigue
My sore throat lessened in severity but I had coughing fits about 8-10 times per day and it kept me up at night. I had tiny bumps all over my back, butt and stomach, and a few on my legs. Not loads of them; maybe 20 total. I started to feel more energized by day 11, so I walked on the treadmill on days 11 and 12.
It turns out that the treadmill walk was too much and I woke up the next day feeling totally wasted. I did, however, test negative for Covid on my at-home test. At this point I think I was rid of the virus, but I was now suffering from post-viral illness, which felt similar to my mono episodes. The big difference between this and my mono episodes is that I was never tired in the sleepy sense. I didn't nap. The fatigue was more of a bodily fatigue and not a head fatigue. I also did not experience dizziness like I had with my mono.
I decided not to engage in any physical activity at all during these 5 days. I just rested. On day 17, I decided to take one of my Turmeric supplements. I had read an article about post-viral fatigue and it said that some researchers believed it to be caused by brain inflammation. Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory so I figured it was worth a shot.
Days 18-22: Major improvement
The day after I took the turmeric I noticed a major improvement. If I was at 65% on day 17, I was at 85% on day 18. I felt almost normal the very next day. I decided I could go ahead and resume walking, but very slowly and only for 15 minutes.
Every day from 18-22 I felt better and better, with my legs feeling stronger as I walked. Previously, they had felt like jello.
By day 23 I was 100% symptom-free and feeling like my normal self. No lingering fatigue. No weakness. No throat congestion. I continued my walking regimen and got up to 2 miles walking before I attempted to run. My first run back was a run-walk on the treadmill because it was pouring rain outside. I did 6 x (3:00 walk, 2:00 run). And I kept the runs very easy.
Everything felt great during the run and after the run. So I continued to progress my workouts, shortening the walk breaks and increasing the overall duration of each session. My most recent run/walk (today) was 8 x 1:00 walk, 4:00 run. This is 32 minutes of running. I didn't feel like I needed the walk breaks, but I kept them in any way as a chance to "check in" with myself to make sure everything felt normal after each run.
I can't stress enough the importance of walking multiple times before attempting to run, and waiting to be 100% symptom free. I felt 100% symptom free for about 4 days before I started to run, and when I did run, it was a run/walk.
While there is a protocol for returning to run post-Covid, everyone is unique and it also depends on how long you were sick and how severe the illness was. Because I have so much experience with illness, I know my body pretty well and I can tell when I am ready to walk and when I am ready to run. My rule is to always wait a few extra days after feeling ready! I probably could have run on day 22, but I waited an extra 5 days to be absolutely sure. I would much rather have a slow and steady comeback instead of a rollercoaster of ups and downs from doing too much too soon.
Overall, this illness took about a month of training from me, plus the 2-3 weeks it will take to get back to where I was. With the Boston Marathon coming up in the middle of April, I certainly have my work cut out for me. Thankfully I was in pretty good shape before I got sick and my body adapts to workouts relatively quickly. I don't plan on doing any hard running for another week; I first need to wean myself off of walk breaks and then increase the duration of my runs.
I'm not at all worried; I know I will be able to finish the marathon and I wasn't planning on trying to run a PR anyway. My original goal was to run a course PR and I think that's still possible, but I will re-assess as the race gets closer.