On November 9th, I lost my sense of smell after having a stuffy nose for the two days prior. My plane ticket to leave Alaska for the season opener world cups was on November 17th. These weren’t even the type of sniffles I would have normally considered a cold- just the type that would make me decide to push intervals back a day or two. I actually did exactly this, but on the third day I woke up and couldn’t smell my morning coffee, and I knew it wasn’t just your average cold. I quickly went and got a covid test, but didn’t get “official” results until day 5. In the meantime, I assumed I had covid, which was reinforced by the inability to smell my stinky ski boots or taste half a bottle of sriracha poured into my soup. I started taking things very easy, finding it difficult to make it through a 25 minute mile on the treadmill on my basement with the infamous “covid headache” after doing cruisy 7-minute miles just days before. Needless to say, I did not make my flight to Europe, and instead have been focused on my health and recovery ever since.
It has been super difficult to take over two weeks off recovering from Covid-19. Prior to Covid I had been doing my first big on-snow training block and feeling awesome. I did an hour of threshold intervals the day before the ‘sniffles’ set in and it was nearly effortless. I did the set on a known route in Fairbanks that I have done since I was 14 so it has become a solid gage of fitness for me.
Nonetheless, I am doing much better now. I had a few tough days, but in general from what I know via echo, ekg, chest x-ray, and blood labs I believe I am recovering well. Thanks to the cardiologist and my coach, Erik Flora, I have a structured plan to return to full training in a conservative and progressive approach. After two weeks completely off from training, I started back with some walks. After that I did a week of 1 hour skis each day. Last week I did 2×1 hour skis per day; this week, I am doing roughly the same but allowing the daily volume to reach 2.5 hours if I feel energetic. This might seem like a lot, but I am used to doing two sessions per day that are each two hours in duration in addition to high intensity training sessions. Relatively to my normal, right now I am doing all my exercise at a crawling pace. Polar watches was super generous and sent me a brand new watch that helps me ensure that I keep my pulse within the specified range.
With my progression, I hope to be near 100% around Christmas and return to racing for the second half of the season (assuming no complications along the way).
The silver lining of covid and not heading to europe: After quarantine I was really excited to get outside and see family that I only get a chance to see a few weeks a year.