How Does Covid Vaccination Affect Your Running?
When the Covid-19 pandemic rattled our lives and world, it is safe to say that none of us went unscathed. Most areas had some type of restrictions put into place whether it was a Stay at Home order, mandatory masks or emergency school closures. In many areas, all three were prevalent for an extended period of time.
As cabin fever quickly spread, a lot of people took to the outdoors to combat the claustrophobia that resulted. A simple drive through most towns had me spotting people engaging in many outdoor activities.
For those of us who had running to turn to as a stress reliever and outlet for movement, fresh air and perhaps distanced socialization, things felt a bit “normal” for those stretches of time when we pounded the pavement.
If you ended up getting the Covid-19 virus, your symptoms were anything from nothing to a mild cold to a very serious illness. Some people suffered from long-term problems with lungs, blood clots and even heart irregularities. As someone who struggled with getting my heart rate back to normal post-Covid, I was excited for the opportunity to get vaccinated.
Should You Get Vaccinated?
Whether or not you choose to get vaccinated is a very personal decision and no one should feel pressured to choose one way or the other. The positives of getting the vaccine, according to the CDC, are that you can start doing more once fully vaccinated. Recent recommendations by the CDC state that people who are vaccinated no longer need to wear masks, for example.
Vaccinations can help people to feel more comfortable in group situations. As someone who spent a year not entering a restaurant, the idea of being able to return to eating out in public excited me!
And as a runner, let’s not forget the all-important racing. Sure, there have been virtual races galore. And for a while, it was fun. But enough is enough. It’s time to return to in-person racing.
Living in Wisconsin, I was lucky enough that a racing group out of Waukesha, WI, started hosting live races back in the fall. With staggered starts, distanced cones for people to wait at for the start, masks or other face covers required at the start/finish and when passing someone, it did not look like any race I recognized but I was running, with other people!
If you are an avid runner, you are aware that things are starting to open up and races are beginning to happen. And the running community is thrilled!
Pictured above: This is me and my daughter, Carolan Garceau, in a Turkey Trot. The air was buzzing with excitement as people were thrilled to be back together running.
Coronavirus Vaccine: What To Expect
Depending on which vaccination you get, your side effects could vary. Common side effects are as follows.
- Fever: Some people get a fever after receiving the Covid-19 vaccine. You can take a fever reducer in order to keep the fever under control.
- Chills: Another common side effect, often accompanying fever is the chills. Take the fever reducer mentioned above, lay low, rest and give your body time to bounce back.
- Headache: Many people suffer from a headache after the shot. This can often be alleviated by a pain reliever.
- Fatigue: If you struggle with fatigue after your vaccine, listen to your body and rest.
- Muscle Aches: Remember the last time you had a fever or flu bug, those body aches that accompanied it? That is what the muscle aches may feel like after the vaccine.
- Arm Soreness: Having discomfort and/or redness at the shot site frequently happens. Don’t be surprised by this.
If you were one of the unlucky ones who had terrible side effects, it is probably difficult to believe that some people have zero. However, it is true! And there does not seem to be a rhyme nor reason as to who or why. My parents are both in their 70s. Neither are sickly, but my dad is far more active than my mother.
Dad, who runs on his treadmill three days each week, walks the dog twice daily and keeps active by chopping his own wood, had serious muscle soreness. Mom, on the other hand, said, “I could have forgotten I had even had a vaccine, except dad kept reminding me.”
The point is you want to expect side effects and plan for them, just in case. However, you may not get any.
In researching for this article, I was shocked to read that some physicians actually occur athletes to take it easy for a couple of days before taking the Covid-19 vaccination. Since none of us knows how our body will react, the rationale is that you should give yourself some grace before heading into the shot.
If you are well conditioned to hard and challenging workouts, you likely can work hard the day before the vaccine. The morning of it is okay to work out, but don’t push your limits.
Another thing to consider is the body part you are working on. If you have a difficult upper body workout the day before your vaccine, you may want to swap it out with another workout. Try to go into the appointment feeling pretty comfortable and pain-free.
After getting vaccinated, you really need to listen to your body. The day I got my first vaccination, I felt really good all evening. I went for an easy run and felt just fine. The next morning when I woke up my arm was super sore and my head hurt some. I went to a group run and struggled to keep up with the girls as usual. That night? Suddenly I was hit with terrible exhaustion.
I told my husband I just wasn’t feeling well and was going to go rest in my chair. He told me that when he peeked at me a very short while later, I was sound asleep. He woke me long enough for me to get into bed and I went right back to sleep. I slept for 15 hours!
On day two, I decided my body needed me to take it easy so I jumped on my stationary bike instead of running. My body liked that decision.
After my second vaccine, I felt pretty good the same day – just like after the first shot. Although I felt like I probably could have run, I walked my dog instead. The next morning I just felt “off,” so I skipped group run, slept in, and relaxed all morning. Much later in the day, I again walked my pup.
On the 2nd night, I experienced the same fatigue. After both the first and second vaccines, I felt good enough to run normally by day three.
Should I Baby My Arm If It Hurts?
When you are experiencing pain and/or discomfort at the vaccination site, the worse thing you can do is baby it. Some movement is actually good for you at this point. I am not suggesting that you should try to throw around serious weights, but some light lifting won’t hurt and may actually help.
At the very least, walking briskly and making a point to swing both arms normally will do your sore arm some good. Gentle movement may ward off soreness, and should be strongly considered from the moment you get your vaccination!
The key to running after your vaccination is to just listen to your body. If your body is exhausted and sore, you likely should take a break. People with fevers should rest instead of pushing through.
Sure, being sidelined can be frustrating. But you will be back at full strength before you know it! And who doesn’t want to see in-person races kick it into high gear!?