Effects of Covid vaccination on training

On a recent midway call with one of my SUFCoaching clients, the topic Covid vaccinations was discussed as well as it’s impacts on training. I took some time to go and research this in more detail, and wanted to share my results with you all.

First of all, it’s important to note that getting the Covid-19 vaccine is a good thing - and something that all people should get - as it appears that the effects of the vaccine are minimal when compared to those of getting Covid-19 itself. However, as with many medications, there can be varying side effects that affect different people in different ways. For those following a training plan, it is useful to be aware of what these side effects could be and how best to plan around them. So, how might you expect the vaccine to affect you and what changes should you make to your training in order to accommodate this?

Impacts of the vaccine:

In a study by Meyer et al., (2021), it was found that the type of vaccine had an impact on the possible side effects. The Vector-based ones (Astra-Zeneca, Johnson & Johnson) had more of an effect after the first dose, whereas mRNA-based (Pfizer and Moderna) had more of an effect after the second dose. Additionally, mRNA-based vaccines seemed to result in more localised pain at the sight of the injection, along with headaches and fatigue. Vector-based vaccines resulted in more fever and ‘chill’ symptoms, with some people also experiencing itching.

Based on self-reported effects of the vaccine in a sample size of around 150 people, a common side effect after the vaccine was a sore arm at the sight of the injection, followed by a sensation of being tired for several days to a week or, in the worst cases, flu-like symptoms followed by fatigue for more than a week. Out of those who had previously experienced contracting Covid-19, the reported effects of the vaccine were nowhere near as bad or unpleasant as those of Covid-19 itself.

In a study by Hull et al., (2021), the risk profile of the vaccine in athletes was determined as ‘very low’ but it also concluded that key training sessions should not be done within 2 days before or after the vaccination so as not to suppress the immune system. Pain killers were suggested if symptoms were severe, but not to be taken within 6 hours of the vaccination so as to maintain effectiveness of the vaccine.

How to adjust your training plan:

Reducing the volume and intensity of your riding for the weeks around your vaccinations would be recommended. Although symptoms in most people don’t appear to last for more than a few days, for some it can take longer. If this is the case for you, have a look at this link:

Even the Badass Have Bad Days: What to Do When You Can't Do – The Sufferfest.

Some time off the bike, or reducing the volume or intensity, will be better in the long run for your continued progression in training. Don’t worry, you’ll be back to smashing your goals and hurting your legs in no time. If you would like some extra guidance for your training, our team of SUFCoaches can help make sure your plan can be appropriately adjusted to reduce volume and intensity, both in the lead up to the vaccination and after you’ve received it, whilst making sure that the rest of your plan beyond the vaccination is set up to make sure you’re still on target to achieve your goals.

Additional Reading:

Meyer, T., Wolfarth, B., & Gärtner, B. (2021). Recommendations for Athletes to Vaccinate against SARS-CoV-2.

Hull, J. H., Schwellnus, M. P., Pyne, D. B., & Shah, A. (2021). COVID-19 vaccination in athletes: ready, set, go…. The Lancet Respiratory Medicine , 9 (5), 455-456."


I was feeling weak for about 5 weeks after the 2nd Pfizer jab, a couple of weeks followed where strength started coming back. I can now do full volume but have to dial down quite a few sessions. My actual numbers are obviously lower than the tested ones, but if another FF is taken while ability is coming back, then the new test will be out of date in a week or so

Sorry to hear you weren’t feeling good after the jab, but glad to hear things are improving. Sounds like you’re doing the right thing and listening to your body. Hope you’re back to 100% soon

1 Like

Hi Andy what about training for people recovering from covid ? I recently contracted it (had 1st jab) after dodging the Rona for 18months and being a key worker it’s knocked me sideways .
Luckily I haven’t had the chest issues like so many others but I have developed fatigue bouts very similar to when I developed CFS(chronic fatigue)the only difference is seems to be a different kind of fatigue nothing at all in the legs no strength what so ever ,although I’m listening to my body amd doing small rides (15-20miles) I was wondering if there is anything you recommend in suff to help assist with my recovery any advice gratefully appreciated


Hey Jon,

Firstly I’m sorry to hear that, I hope you’re feeling back to your normal self soon. It’s a difficult one, of course I’m not a qualified medical professional so couldn’t say what would be best from that point of view. I think what you are doing with listening to your body and keeping intensity and volume low is the best course of action currently. It might be worth incorporating some yoga and strength training to improve those aspects of your physiology. That way, when you return to riding proper, your body will be in as fit a state as it can.

Although a different situation, I’ve used times when injured or unwell to target other aspects that I could focus on, such as strength and stretching. It’s frustrating when you can’t train the way you’d like to, but there are things you can do to stay fit and even improve your riding when you can do that again properly.

Hope that helps a bit and that you feel well again soon,


1 Like

I think this is great advice. After my first AZ jab I was knocked out with fatigue for about 2 days and then took about a week to fully recover. I was back into low intensity training within 3 days and full training after a week. But I felt slightly off form for a week or two. My second AZ jab had no side-effects at all. I had rested for a few days beforehand in preparation and I took it easy for a few days afterwards, but I was back smashing myself as normal a few days later.

Should have read this a couple of months ago :joy:

I was training for a full distance XTRI and was in the final 6 week when I was due to get my first dose, but had already decided not to get the vaccination until at least 2 weeks after the race. Sounds like I made the right decision as I would have been given the Astra dose.

Ended up getting Pfizer. First one was ok and didn’t really affect me just felt fatigued for a week - 10 days. 2nd one felt fine but any time I went and did anything over Z2 heart rate went straight to Z5 - max.

Will keep that in mind for when they come round with the booster shots :flushed:


I had the booster (3rd dose, Pfizer) with absolutely no side effects whatsoever. Except for the localized irritation at the injection site, which I forgot about after a few hours.
I was expecting the worst because the 2nd dose had me Z1-2ing for a week. Obviously, it’s personal and greatly varies, but this was my experience, for what it’s worth. :microbe:


Good to know. I have dose 2 of Pfizer next week. And it’s not a rest week. Might have to shuffle the last few weeks of this plan around somewhat but will play it by ear. Dose 1 I had one day feeling pants and then was back to normal


I had my booster of pfizer after my initial two doses of sinopharm, and ended up getting a fourth dose, pfizer again and that knocked me out for a day then I was fine. my whoop was low for another few days so I took it a bit easier then was back to normal

Just got Pfizer booster (3rd dose) yesterday. By evening, I had a sore arm which mostly bothered me because I sleep on that side. I have no other side effects. I was tired for a day after my second dose.

Positive thinking helps enormously…as does keeping moving

I had Covid, running nose for 2 days and los in fitness (must be the lucky one :joy: )

My uncle who cycles with me had minimal side affects after the first dose (Pfizer) but had a serieus reaction after the second shot: got dropped in the group ride (slow group, normally he keeps up with the fast group without a problem). The week after that wasn’t any better (he had the shot on monday, bit of easy riding in the week, first group ride on Sunday, no riding the week after that, second group ride on Sunday again)
Then it got a bit better (but never great, like he was before the shot), then after 2 months (or 7 weeks, not sure) he could keep up with the fast group and started feeling better. Then he got Covid, 2 weeks quarantine and gone was the fitness again (he wasn’t very sick, bit to sick to train)

Lets hope he can get back in form next year (not easy when you’re pushing 60)

Oh wow, had the booster and flu shot yesterday - I feel like I crashed hard and cramped up everywhere. Mobilize The Joints and Recovery Strength session helped a lot with reducing some of the aches. Weird since I had no reaction to #1 or 2, or prior flu shots.

Well I guess I am one of the odd balls: I don’t plan on getting the mRNA jab. And recently came down with Covid. Had flu like symptoms for two days then fever was gone. But after 8 days, I am tired (even after a “Modified Myers IV”).
It is very upsetting to know I have lost a lot of training/ fitness.
Hopefully covid had not permanently affected my lungs.
Did have an oxygen saturation test and was between 85 - 90 percent.

I am sure every individual has different recovery success.
And I am 67 years old.

I am sorry to hear you’re not feeling well!

Are you saying you are still only 8 days since you began showing symptoms? The length of recovery from Covid varies widely depending on your age, health, vaccination status, and other personal issues. Doctors still don’t know why some people get “long covid” and others don’t or why some people don’t even seem to show symptoms at all. This all of course makes it very frustrating when trying to recover and get back into shape.

So, since we don’t know your personal medical history it’s hard to say how long it will take you to recover. Even if we did it would still be a lot of speculation based on the still-limited knowledge of Covid and its full health implications. But from what you’ve said, you are older, and if you are also unvaccinated then you should expect your recovery to take longer. And on top of that, you need to be careful of Pericarditis (inflammation of the lining of the heart) if you attempt to return to intense training too soon. This has affected a number of even young pro athletes like Tim Declercq.

So, if you are only 8 days past the beginning of showing symptoms, and your Ox is showing only 85-90%, and you are still feeling tired and fatigued, then you can be sure are still in the middle of fighting the infection. You should continue to rest and recover until at minimum your Ox levels return to normal levels. Let your body use whatever energy it has to fight off the virus.

Then wait at least 1-2 weeks after you feel recovered to begin training again. And even then, start slowly to monitor how you feel. At first, even mild training may severely fatigue you and you may need to continue to rest and take it easy. Once your Ox levels are normal and you can do mild training without the additional fatigue then you can begin ramping up the intensity to see how that feels.

Know that if you have only been showing symptoms for 8 days and are feeling tired you have not lost any significant fitness. You are simply feeling the effects of the virus that is still infecting your body. After that, it is better to rest and recover and ease back into your training while knowing you may lose some fitness than to try to jump back in too early and aggravate things which would then make you take even longer to recover and lose even more fitness. Better to come back a little too slow than too fast.

69 and had 2 Moderna and 2 Pfizer. No reaction after the first shot but felt pretty sick for ~24 hrs after each of the subsequent shots. By 36 hrs I felt OK. Rode normally 3 days afterward.

As a point of reference, my reaction to my shingles shots was worse than to any of the covid shots, but still only about a day and half.


Me too! The first Shingrix knocked me down for almost 2 days. COVID shots (4) all gave me a sore arm and the first 2 made me sleepy for a day.