After Covid - Training with an elevated heart rate

First time poster (long time Sufferlandrian though) and sorry to say it is covid that has brought me here. I’m hoping that within the community someone can provide some encouraging words about training with an elevated heart rate after covid. I’ve read the posts about training after covid but not quite finding much discussion around heart rates. Had covid for the first time at the start of December and took 2 weeks off the turbo. Was pretty poorly for the first week with high temps and aches but no cough. By end of the second week, felt recovered enough to try turbo and started with a 30 min Recovery ride. Heart rate was very high, so came off and tried again a few days later. Same thing. Since then, I have tried a little (usually only half an hour) most days and trying to increase the power whilst keeping a close eye on heart rate. Still have only progressed to a 30 min 0.55 effort with HR around 10-12 bpm average above where it would normally be. I am fortunate to not have any fatigue and feel pretty good but just have no sense of whether I’m approaching training correctly. Does anyone have experience of the high post covid HR? How long did it take to resolve and how did you adapt your training until it did? Appreciate none of this is a substitute for proper medical advice but I guess I am hoping for some positive stories to alleviate the frustration :slight_smile: Many thanks in advance


First welcome @ClaireK - both to the forum and to post-COVID recovery riding. Right there with you, unfortunately, two weeks off, now easing back in. Also seeing elevated HR’s. No magic bullet, I’m afraid, but what I’ve been doing since coming back is doing whatever workout is on my plan, but dialing down the intensity until my HR is hitting the desired range. I’ve been able to complete the workouts so far this way, and don’t feel like I’m undoing my efforts at recovery.

I was flat on my back during my bout - both COVID and flu - but adapting this as I have, I don’t feel like I’m undoing my recovery, have been able to get back into some level of workout normalcy the past few days.

I also jettisoned my winter training plan and reset to the “Fitness Kickstarter” for six weeks, with plans to adjust and/or supplement workouts as I’m able. Bottom line IMO is rest and recovery are most important. Even if it’s killing me to hold back and not try to plunge back in. My illness burned a solid winter training plan to the ground, but is what it is, I guess.

FWIW, I did the test week first week of December - right before I got sick - so have brand, shiny new numbers. Can’t imagine doing some of these efforts right now at my new values…

Good luck and speedy recovery!



Thanks so much for the reply (and welcome :slight_smile: ).

Dare I say it, it is good to hear from someone else experiencing this. Dialling back workouts sounds like a good idea to try as I have been mainly just adjusting %ftp on the “Open” workouts. Though it works, it makes for a fairly dull session.

Are you trying to cap your heart rate e.g. at 70% or 80% max HR or just aiming to get your HR in the right zone for the interval you are doing? Until now, I’ve just been trying to keep my HR between 70-80% max HR but that basically has seen me not moving out of zone 2 power and a LOT of zone 1 :upside_down_face:. Honestly feel slightly terrified of trying anything with more watts as I think my HR would soar.

It’s so tricky when you feel otherwise well. I’ve carried on with my usual off-bike activities and walk every day and don’t feel fatigued - just desperate to get on with some proper training (not least because I am supposed to be off to Majorca in the spring).

What a nightmare re. the test, having new numbers and the timing of it all. I guess it’s motivation of sorts for when you’re back firing on all cylinders. Best of luck anyway and hoping your recovery is swift too.


Yeah the second one. Rather than just go for a straight 70 - 80% - which as you noted wouldn’t work outside of the “open” workouts (bleah) - I have been adjusting the intensity to keep my HR in the zone as called for in the interval.

Two things in my favor is I’ve not done any workouts this past few days that require rapid zone shifts, and I have a BT keyboard next to me that I can make quick adjustments to effort. This has been three rides thus far, and from what I’ve seen, I’m generally down into the 80-90% range to put my HR in the indicated zone. Like I said, I feel like I’ve (still) gotten good workouts in, but don’t feel gassed the next day. So the plan is to keep this up for this week, then slowly try to kick it back up after New Year’s and see how I’m handling it. Fortunately the “Fitness Kickstarter” plan is pretty low-key, so I will likely add in some rides as I’m able to manage.

Goal would be to be back to 100% at some point in January, then ride out the kickstarter plan and maybe a building block before the March Tour (de Sufferlandria).


Hi @ClaireK and welcome to the forum

I had covid in August. I felt rubbish while sick, but came right after 10 days. However, my HR stayed elevated for about a month post covid. So I took things very easy, as I really wanted to protect my heart health and avoid myocarditis and long covid.

  • didn’t ride at all during covid
  • didn’t ride for 1 week post covid
  • 2 weeks post covid I did a couple of short recovery rides
  • the next 2 weeks I added Z2 rides, no more than 3 or 4 rides a week, recovery & Z2. I was religious about not exceeding Z2 HR, which was tough with an elevated HR. My rides we very slow.
  • by then my HR was back to normal and I started a new training plan

This stuffed up the training for my only event of the year, but it was a small price to pay. I felt my recovery went well and i have no lingering effects. I know everyone reacts differently, but my advice is to dial down the training and let your body fix itself.


Thanks @Natasha.R that’s a really useful insight since you’ve come out the other side of all this and sounds like you’re doing well now
Think I’m going to need to be patient a while longer and listen to my body (or rather my HR :grinning:).
When training and cycling is such a big part of your life (and social life too), taking time off feels like a really big deal. I’m hoping though it’ll will eventually pay dividends🤞🏻. At least it’s winter here in Scotland. The pain cave is freezing and the roads are filthy😂 - it would be torture in summer time.

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Great post, @Natasha.R!

Yeah interesting - as I mentioned earlier, I was dialing down to keep my (elevated) HR in the recommended interval zone, and felt ok. @ClaireK got me thinking, so I did a recovery ride today (Fursa, because badge) at 100% and sure enough - 10-15bpm elevated throughout.

So definitely seems to be a common thing post-COVID. Like you I’m aiming to ease back into things gradually. I intend to stick w my plan, but will be dialing everything down to keep it Z2 as best I can, continuing to hope to be back to snuff by mid-January.



Hi @ClaireK - welcome to the forum! I’ll share my experience, take it all with a grain of salt as it seems like people have very individual responses to COVID and also recovery (I’m 38yrs old, pretty active, but definitely not in the form I was for my Knighthood in early COVID).

I got COVID for the first time at the end of October and it absolutely flattened me. I was fully boosted etc. and after initial symptoms that felt like a cold for week, had a temperature of 103ºF for 3 days, exhaustion, headaches etc. I partially lost sense of taste/smell and I would say it’s only somewhat back to normal at this point. I’ve had random POTS symptoms, and so started doing various stretches for vagus nerve therapy, and also elevated heart rate when doing very little in terms of exercise.

I took the first two weeks in November completely off, and then started very light walks (think 25-30mins for 1 1.2-1.5 mile walk). Then I added in some very light 30min yoga, and began extending walks to 35mins. During this first month I was doing no more than 2-3 activities per week and aiming to keep my HR in Zone 2, before slowly adding some time at Z3 (again this was literally walking uphill).

After one month of primarily walking, I added in strength training, but again was careful not to push too hard if my heart was pounding. Then finally I got a KICKR Bike a week ago, and have been doing very very flat/short rides on the Z word for 20mins at Z2-Z4.

Literally the last week is the first time since getting COVID around 8 weeks ago that my HRV and Garmin Body Battery have started to trend upwards again (body battery wasn’t north of 60 for this whole time, and HRV is finally getting back to where it was).

I am still getting random chest pains/thumping heart from time to time, and so made the decision to go to a cardiologist tomorrow to make sure nothing is physically amiss. I deeply fear long COVID, and for me being active is one my main sources of enjoyment in life.

Feel free to drop in any questions or message me. Very best for your recovery, and take it easy/slowly!

A couple of resources I found helpful:


There are several posts on COVID/Influenza in the forums. One very important item to keep in mind is that your return will be unique. Some folks will recover in a matter of weeks. Others will take months. Some will NEVER recover to the level before they were sick.
The biggest key take away: Slow and steady wins the race and will help your recovery. As it was stated, start with recovery and Zone 1 rides. Wahoo SYSTM has plenty of these. Once your heart rate returns to somewhere near normal, then move onto Zone 2/3 Endurance level rides. Once you feel comfortable (like Sir Neal says in a few, you should feel poorly for going this slow). then add some interval work. Then find the Pain Parlour and have at it. You might only ride at 80% of your old ‘numbers’ but riding you shall.


Thanks for sharing your experience @Rearviewmirror. Though I’m wary of comparing, it sounds reasonably similar to what I experienced. Bed bound with the fever for around 4 days and then weird loss of smell/taste around day 5/6. That has gradually returned for me after a period of 10-14 days. I’m older (44) but wasn’t particularly worried about covid as I naively thought my fitness/general health would offer good protection (along with the vaccinations plus booster). Interestingly, my husband caught covid for the second time a few days after me. His symptoms were all “above neck” - like a heavy cold. He’s a very keen cyclist too. Despite the reduced severity of his symptoms he’s experiencing the same elevated HR. I guess it shows how insidious covid is even with relatively “mild” symptoms. I really hope your improving stats mean you are able to get back to doing training as before. Wise though to get the cardio check if you feel things may not be quite right. Thanks for the links too. I’d seen the bmj one before on my hunt for guidance (:see_no_evil:) but the other is new to me so I’ll have a good look.
@jmckenzieKOS - I agree caution is the watch word and everyone will be different. I do find it helpful though hearing everyone else’s experiences. I’m sure in a few years much more will be understood and written about this from coaches and the medical profession. I did hear the pro riders get a battery of tests before being cleared to train after covid. For the rest of us, I guess we have to be guided by our body, the limited metrics we have and take it one step at a time.
Thanks everyone😁


I had COVID last year rolling into Thanksgiving. I had great fitness prior to getting sick. I was off the bike 3 full weeks. When I returned, HR was higher and FTP had dropped 10%. I took me an additional 7 weeks (mid February) to get back to pre-COVID levels. It is not surprising that HR is higher than pre-sickness efforts. COVID affects the body’s ability to process oxygen. I bought an oxygen sensor while I was sick and I was regularly at 90% oxygen saturation while just lying in bed all day. Oxygen saturation would normally be expected to be near 100% when at rest. The elevated HR is your body working harder to deliver oxygen at the levels it is used to. Just listen to your body and give it rest when it needs it. It’s devoting a lot of resources trying to heal from the illness and too much stress from training could open you to more illness as your immune system isn’t operating at full capacity. Too much training could delay your return to full health and regaining your lost fitness


Returning to activity after COVID needs to be done smartly. It sounds like you are, and a lot of good advice here. I had just finished Ironman 70.3 Coeur d’Alene and got hit hard with it 7 days later. I was at peak physical conditioning. I struggled while off from exercising because it is my happy place. I then struggled coming back starting three weeks later. Elevated HR, worried about what inflammation was still inside of me and if my heart was affected.
This is a good group, lots of love and support. There is a lot of experience and great advice! I look forward to your return to full fitness and hearing how you got back.


If it helps, 2-3 weeks off the bike would see my exercise HR go up by 10 or so BPM when I get back on the bike, regardless of whether the rest was illness, or just time off the bike.


Thanks @Orion12521 @KenR and @The_Nick.
Lots of good advice. I have wondered about how much of the high heart rate is loss of fitness but my gut instinct is that things don’t feel quite right, rather than it being that I’m just unfit (though 3.5 weeks since any meaningful training will have had an effect for sure). Did Tour of Ara this morning which should have been easy but HR still up in the middle of zone 2. Think I just keep have to carry on with these short “easy” sessions until things look like they’re heading into a more normal zone. It does feel like it’s got a long time to go yet though and that bothers me, mainly because come new year I’ll be missing my social rides with friends outside until I feel it’s back under control. It’s a way of life and a social life so hard to consciously choose to dial it back but I know that’s what’s needed for now. You do wonder about those that don’t monitor HR and are unaware of any particular differences. My mum had covid last year and is fairly inactive. Her perception of her recovery is that she has bounced back and feels absolutely fine. Who knows if she wore a HR monitor if it would say otherwise but she’s delighted to prove the fitness junkies in the family that she’s come out on top :joy:


Misery loves company, and I feel your pain.

Finally completed Ride For Your L1fe today to finish the December challenge. Easy enough ride to keep the HR in Z2 throughout, but just doing an hour (1:08) on the trainer today was hard - my endurance has already taken a beating after my Very COVID Christmas.


Recover well, @CPT_A . COVID/Influenza/RSV is nothing to ‘sneeze’ at. I’m working on recovering my fitness from two years of wandering around the outlands after a stay in injurylandria. Before that it was COVID…Was not a good two years at all. Now to work on regaining.

And my training was going pretty well too. :slightly_frowning_face:
Past the worst of it now. Will see how recovery goes…



Hi Claire, perhaps this thread may help

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Aww! Very sorry. Hang in there.

An update from me here… I went to a cardiologist (who was great) and did a LOT of blood tests to see if I’m showing any signs of heart damage (myocarditis etc.) and luckily so far the answer is “no”. I’m going for an echocardiogram next week and so that should give me the 100% all clear. I would say if you’re worried, go check out a doc. Not sure what country you’re in, but if you’re US based I can share a document with you that lists doctors who are particularly versed in post-COVID treatment.