Five weeks ago, I was set to run the London Marathon. Training was back on track, my near-term target was last week’s Bath Half. Apart from a tentative run last Thursday, I did not train at all in the intervening period because of the most persistent virus I’ve encountered. As of now, the London Marathon, less than three weeks away, is a pipe-dream, and I shall withdraw. The Bath Half – achievable based on my recent mileages – would have been dangerous while still nursing an infection, even though it seemed relatively mild.

When I did step out last week in an attempt to burn off the residue of infection, the Polar RS800 heart rate monitor I have been testing provided a salutary warning. Intuitively, because the infection stage of a virus tends not to last long, you think at least after four weeks, you’re probably in reasonable shape. But the computer said no. Using the “OwnZone” feature, the Polar watch set me an extraordinary modest exercise range of just 111-141 bpm. That equated to a brisk walk up to light jog. Unadvised, I would have run off at 145-150 bpm.

The idea of burning off a virus seems well established. Raising body temperature does that. Mistakenly, I ran my first marathon in 2005 with a virus, and indeed it had disappeared the following day. In effect raising body temperature to burn off virus is what a fever is doing. But, nervous of myocarditis (viral infection of the heart that can be fatal) I prefer not to exercise at all if I feel under the weather, and I would never “compete” unless I felt optimal. As I trained last Thursday, the Polar RS800 was telling me much the same thing. I jogged for about 30 minutes, having to walk more and more toward the end because my old war wound (ligament trouble in the hallux) was irritating me a bit. I felt really ropey when I got home. The following morning, my resting heart rate, which had been a routine 50 bpm, was up at 62 bpm, compared with a well rested level of 45-46 bpm when I have been training regularly and virus-free.

So my near-term goal now is to ignore the London Marathon and rebuild my fitness. After five weeks without exercise, I have not gained any weight, but there has been a noticeable deterioration in my day-to-day cognitive function, coordination and overall work efficiency.

Resting heart rate 48 bpm

Weight 72 kg

Mood :-|

Exercise (ready to resume later today)

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