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The lung pain was so severe, I wonder if I’ll ever fully recover.
After that, I started to trend better. On Friday, May 1, I finally got tested for COVID-19, and by then my result was negative.
The following Tuesday I tried running again because I was losing my mind being so inactive. I went early in the morning, so no one would see me shuffling along. I managed to do four minutes of walking, one minute of jogging, repeated five times. I felt quite dizzy after the minute of jogging.
Since then, I’ve built up my endurance, but it’s far from where it was in early March. Last week, I was able to jog 20 minutes straight; I didn’t turn on my
pace function, but I would be shocked if I went faster than 10 minutes a mile. It felt pretty bad, and my lungs hurt for several days afterward. Three months ago, a 20-minute jog would have been a morning shakeout before an afternoon workout. Now, it’s the big athletic event of my week.
My fatigue is getting better, but some days I still just feel exhausted. It’s scary to be on the first wave of a disease where they don’t know what path the disease will take and they don’t really have a way to treat you. Doctors can’t tell me what the long term effects will be, and that’s absolutely terrifying. Will my lungs fully recover? Am I ever going to race again? Are my athletic goals just on the shelf forever?
I’ve been active my entire life. I grew up backpacking and playing soccer, I ran in high school and two years in college, and I discovered rock climbing as an adult. I miss feeling good in my body.
I miss feeling energetic. I miss the
that comes after a good workout. This experience reminded me what a gift it is to be able to lace up my shoes, go out for an hour or two, and feel free and strong. My favorite part of my day has always been my run.
I’m privileged to worry about my recreational sports when people are worrying for their lives. This illness has shown me how much I take for granted the ability to breathe freely. The last several weeks have reminded me that Black people can’t breathe freely in America, whether they are under the knee of the police or disproportionately dying of COVID-19. There are a lot of people in America who aren’t lucky enough to get to hide from this virus, and it’s attacking America disproportionately based on race and socioeconomic status.
The neighbors down the street have thrown weekly house parties with dozens of people for the last month. People my age don’t understand how sick this can make you and how tenuous recovery is.
Early on, the message to young people was that your grandma would get sick from COVID-19, but you’d just get a cold. As a 28-year-old runner who might have permanent lung damage, I can tell you that’s not true.
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