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Long covid, weight gain and the pursuit of fitness

I’ve never tested positive for Covid. And I’ve done a lot of lateral flow and PCR tests. It goes with the territory of working in an international role and being married to an NHS hospital doctor. But no, not since I started testing in March 2020 have I ever returned a positive test result.

Yet here I am convinced I am exhibiting some of the symptoms of so-called Long Covid. By 4-5pm each day, I am physically and mentally exhausted (not great when your working day often extends past 9pm to maximize availability to American colleagues), I’ve had a tight throat for months, my chest feels weird (impossible to describe, but just not “right”) and my ears seem permanently blocked.

That I can live with, kind of. But worse, I seem to just be putting on weight despite not changing my eating or training habits. I’m currently three kilograms heavier than I was in the middle of last year. And I can’t explain it.

Since getting my Moderna booster shot on 13th December ’21 I’ve felt crap pretty much every single day. That’s now four weeks, far longer than any documented booster shot side effects should last. And I had a PCR test just days before 13th as I flew home from working in the USA.

It’s all pretty depressing. And to be clear, I’m no anti-vaxxer. I willingly took all three shots and would probably do the same again. I just wish I knew why I am suffering these health issues and what to do about them (and don’t say “speak to a doctor”, tried that…).

I’m still cycling, still training. Although I have to confess the explosion in Omicron, combined with the (lack of) hygiene practices from fellow gym members, has put me off going to the local council-run gym. So that part of my training has ground to a halt.

In fact, to tell you how concerned I am about my weight, I’ve ever re-started running to try to burn more calories! I’ve toyed with a return to triathlon or duathlon, but based on the first three runs, that’s a long way off!

Anyway, let’s stick with cycling. I think it’s fair to say I’m back in what you could call “training” and have been for a month or so now. The new coach has me doing some pretty basic sessions, but for now I’m just following the plan and not questioning too much. I’ve clearly lost a lot of power since 2020, but I have to hope I can get it back with the right training, the right diet and motivation.

I’m also doing the vast majority of my indoor training on the TT bike, spending as much time in the tuck as possible. Hopefully that will mean less of a shock to the system when the race season starts. I think one limitation of riding on the TT bike in the tuck on Zwift is that it’s very easy to adopt what you might describe as a “lazy” TT position, where you’re down on the tribars but you’re not really concentrating on getting your head tucked in low and minimizing your frontal section. I guess lazy TT is better than no TT, but something I know I need to pay more attention to.

I guess it’s also about time I got entering some races…


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