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A Runner’s Rundown of Exercising after COVID

A Runner’s Rundown of Exercising after COVID

News alert: COVID-19 and exercise do not mix, especially after the age of 50! I have exercised on and off, always staying active. But, when I turned 50 I decided to take up running even though track was the only sport that I had quit. This dreaded activity turned into one of my biggest stress relievers and my go-to exercise, especially in 2020. I even ran a 12K and was on my way to signing up for the Louisiana Half Marathon in 2021.

But COVID-19 had different plans. I was diagnosed with the virus in December 2020. Initially I wasn’t too worried that 10 days of no exercise would ruin my half marathon goal, but the virus’ after affects, which no one had really discussed, threw me for a loop. I experienced a lack of energy, a decrease in lung capacity and mental discouragement.

My motivation to run was strong and the exercise was fulfilling. Even during my 10-day quarantine, I remained motivated and eager to pursue my goal, so much so that I called my doctor on day seven to ask if I was able to begin running again. He said that I could but to not overdo it. Needless to say, I was out of breath not even a quarter of a mile into that first run. I probably just need to wait a bit longer, I told myself.

Now three months later, I am still struggling with getting and staying motivated to exercise regularly because it can still be mentally and physically exhausting at times. However, I do see the light at the end of this tunnel and have some tips for those who may be in the same boat:

  • Be patient and take it slow -- Know that you will not be as strong as you were prior to COVID and know that your mind and body will eventually heal.
  • Do not overdo it – you’ll just get discouraged.
  • Turn the negative self-talk around with positive talk – “great job, you made it a quarter mile today,” instead of “you only made it a quarter of a mile.”
  • Lean on friends to help motivate you, like getting an exercise buddy -- just by committing to someone for a certain time and place, you will be more likely to go than if doing it alone.
  • Stay positive during your actual exercise -- if walking or stopping is needed, do it and know that you are doing more than just sitting.
  • Do not be too hard on yourself but do be persistent -- your will, determination, stamina and desire to be a heathier version of yourself will improve with time.
  • Most importantly, seek counseling if you feel you are completely stuck and unable to even start off slowly -- you may need to heal your mind first, and seeking help is far from a sign of weakness. COVID can be traumatic. Please do this sooner rather than later.