by Shylah Weber
This year’s Workforce Team Challenge marked the end of a potentially endless off-season for me. I had been struggling with symptoms of “long covid” following my booster vaccine in December, which left me entirely unable to push my body. My heart rate was over 180 bpm on very easy runs, I experienced chest pain, dizziness, and struggled to breathe. In just a couple months, I had gone from running a half marathon under 90 minutes to struggling to jog 9-minute miles. I was fearful that I may never compete at the same level again and doctors couldn’t provide any answers.
“It may take some time” was something I heard a lot, but no one could tell me how long. For weeks, I tried keeping my activity very easy, knocking my pace back and focusing on heart rate – no improvement. I took a full six weeks off with no athletic activity and slowly tried to come back – no improvement. Nothing seemed to help. I felt very alone, worried it was all in my head.
Then I started to see a couple pro athletes posting on social media about similar symptoms, and I opened up about my own struggles. I received a lot of valuable input from other athletes who had experienced varying issues following vaccines or infection. I then made a series of lifestyle changes, including trying an anti-inflammatory diet, adding multiple supplements, etc.
When I signed up for the CDPHP Workforce Team Challenge, I intended to run it as a fun group run at my endurance pace. By some turn of luck, whether it was time or something else, I finally felt ready to take on some workouts the week before the race. My goal then changed to running it as a tempo workout. On race day, with the excitement of seeing friends I hadn’t seen in a while and the adrenaline that comes from the big crowd at the starting line, I decided to try to keep up with a friend and actually make it a race.
While my pace was still slower than my 10k pace, seeing what my body could do after such a long hiatus solidified that I am finally getting over these health issues and can get back out there. I’m truly grateful for my body and all it can do, and really excited to see where I can go now that I’m able to train again!
Ed. Note: Shylah wanted to share this with Pace Setter readers in hope of helping others as she was helped by many who shared similar problems to hers and how they conquered them. You are not alone.