Recovering from long covid - where to start?

I’ve lost about 15 months of riding to long covid. I finally got back on the bike about two-and-a-half months ago and have been mostly riding steady on and off road and seem to have maintained a surprising amount of base fitness, though I’ve obviously lost top end.

I’ve reached a point where I’m happy riding steadily for three to four hours on hilly terrain with decent recovery - I use HRV to monitor along with feel - and I’m pondering where to go next. I’m not sure whether I should aim to continue with steady outings for the next few months or whether I should test FTP etc either using the ramp test or Full Frontal and throw in some short, intense sessions to start rebuilding shorter duration power etc.

I’m a little wary of the intensity of Full Frontal right now, so more inclined towards the ramp test. I’d be grateful for any thoughts and suggestions on next steps. I appreciate it’s not an exact science and individuals vary. I don’t appear to have any ongoing issues with breathing or HR and my general fatigue has pretty much disappeared, so mostly I think I’m dealing with almost 18 months of deconditioning.

Thanks for any help, Jon

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@JonD Sorry to hear if your illness and glad it seems to be abating! Perhaps try Half Monty 1st if you are nervous about Full Frontal. You will at least have FTP and MAP. From there perhaps try the Fitness Kickstarter and see how it goes.


Your journey to here is very personal, so might I offer a suggestion: There’s a lot of talk of The Fear of Full Frontal, but if you take a step back from all that, all FF does is give you better numbers to train with. If you can mentally remove yourself from the competitive side of it, all FF will do is make all your other workouts better.

So, do FF. Go as hard - or not - as you can. Treat it like a training ride you might do every two weeks, rather than a “test” every 3 months (it’s quite well rounded, hitting all 4 metrics :slight_smile: )

You can always reduce or add intensity. You’ll get really good at listening to your body, which it sounds like you already are. 1.5 years of de-conditioning, to me, says you’ll have an easy time identifying some mini goals, leading to a bigger Mt Suff.

It sounds like you’re already well past the starting point; just keep building. The mental toughness training program might be perfect for you now, just to alleviate the doubts.

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Some good advice in this thread from earlier this year.
Back to physical activity after Covid19 infection - Training - The Sufferfest

Thanks. The reason I’m a little wary of FF is that although I’m relatively resilient now, if I keep intensity low, I’m still finding it harder when I push over threshold - I’m finding hilly / technical mountain bike rides are disproportionately tough atm and I’m a little concerned that FF will push me over an edge. For sure some of this is psychological - bear in mind that in January this year I was only able to walk around a football pitch once and doing more could wipe me out for a week or more - and the suggestion of the mental toughness programme is appreciated.

I think I’ll start with a ramp test, as I’m confident I’ll cope with that and use the metrics from there as an initial start point, but with the proviso that I’ll lean a lot on feel as well.

Thanks, I’ve seen that before and from memory it’s more focussed on recovering from infection in the short term rather than the more CFS-type symptoms of long covid, but I’ll revisit. My RHR, blood pressure, ECG, breathing, SATS etc are all now normal, I think I’m mostly dealing with deconditioning.

What’s throwing me a little is that my sub-threshold performance has bounced back incredibly quickly - a lifetime of training adaptation I guess - which is great, but I’m not sure whether to stick primarily with the low level stuff a little longer or not. It’s a bit like driving a car that pulls fantastically up to the mid-range, then feels flat at higher revs, which is a little disconcerting.

I would recommend Half Monty and then consider the transition up plan.

This is a slight tangent as it is referring to post-vaccination but some useful informtation nonetheless: Effects of Covid vaccination on training


Thank you. That’s pretty much where I was heading. When you say ‘the transition up’ plan, which one do you mean?

Hey Jon,
If you go to Training Plans tab → Transition (at the bottom) → Cycling → Ramp up :+1:
Happy Riding!

@JonD you have conquered the hardest part and have those 15 months behind you! Your doing all the right things and easing back into the saddle is the right start and very smart. As you stated, everyone is different and not knowing your exact treatment plan, diagnosis and what medication you were on or are currently on I am going to recommend a generalized approach to returning to training and fitness. Using HR will be key in the return to fitness and morning metrics and HRV will help guide you on your training readiness or need for recovery. If your resting morning heart rate is elevated by more than 7 beats I would take the day off and hydrate well. Because you have been very prudent in your return to training and have taken it slowly you should be ready to do a Fitness Kickstarter Plan which has the Half Monty on day 3. I know you have been riding longer but it’s all about the structure of the training and getting fitness built back up in the various zones and energy systems.

The next progression from the Fitness Kickstarter Plan would be the All Purpose Road 12 Week and I would choose the Novice level. After the All Purpose Road Plan you could focus on some Building Block Plans focusing on your deficits.

All training should be cleared by your physician!

I recommend you include if not already, Diaphragmatic/Decompression Breathing each day and when executing your workouts continue to breath from the belly.

Keep up the great work! Onward!!


Thanks for the great, detailed advice Simon. Really appreciated!