My Story

On the 1st of January 2021, I tested positive for COVID-19. I have had a lot of questions on how this virus affected me, and how I recovered from it, so I decided to put it all in a blog post!

My Experience with COVID-19

I travelled back to Ireland From Belgium in mid-December. I followed all necessary guidelines, had a negative test the day after I arrived, and another negative result 5 days later.

We were all doing fine in my house. One of my sisters didn’t have her usual appetite, which we were joking about – we are all big into our food, and usually we all get stuck into the treats around Christmas time. She was feeling a bit tired too, but we weren’t considering these things as symptoms of COVID at the time.

On the 26th of December, she tested positive for COVID-19. She immediately began to quarantine in her room but I guess at that stage the damage was already done. I was called for a test the following week, on the 1st of January, where I tested positive, along with my other sister and my mum. My dad was actually the only one out of us 5 who managed not to get it, which we found was due to the steroid medication he is on.


I was feeling totally fit and healthy in the week before my positive test. I had done some INSYCD testing just after Christmas with my coach, and was only a few watts away from beating my all-time power bests for 5 and 10 minutes. I was coming off a long period of endurance riding and looking forward to getting stuck into the build phase of my program. I had begun to enjoy the challenge of structured efforts on the turbo again after a lot of Z2 outdoor riding. So, that’s to say that, even while I had COVID, before I knew it, I didn’t feel sick AT ALL. That’s worrying, and strange.

The only inkling I had that something was wrong was that my data on my Whoop app was just a bit off. My HRV, or heart-rate variablility (the variance in time between the beats of your heart) is usually a pretty good indicator of my recovery levels. My HRV dropped a lot in the week before I got my positive result. I put it down to the fact that I was training a lot, having a bit more food (because it was Christmas), and that I had begun doing more intense intervals than I had done in a while. Looking back in hindsight, I can see that this change in my HRV was more than likely due to COVID. At the time, I didn’t think the changes were significant enough to note, but now looking back at it in my monthly Whoop assessment, I can definitely see trends.

Heart Rate Variability Chart:

Heart rate variability is literally the variance in time between the beats of your heart. The greater this variability is, the more “ready” your body is to work at a high level. I had COVID from somewhere around the 29th or 30th of December, and was through the worst of it by the 2nd of January. Your HRV might drop if you’re in a heavy training block, but when I was ill with COVID, I was literally just lying in bed. You can see that it went super low, all the way down to 38, even when I was doing NOTHING.

Respiratory Rate Chart:

The chart above shows my respiratory rate, or the numbers of breaths I take per minute. Not a whole lot to see here, and nothing crazy, but there is a definite rise in my RR in the period where I had COVID. This is a bit hard to explain, but a rise in RR has been highlighted as a possible indicator of COVID. I read about it on the Whoop website, I’ll leave the link here.

Resting Heart Rate Chart:

It’s pretty cool to be able to see the downward trend in my resting heart rate. It had a big spike around the 2nd which was definitely the day when I was most ill.


Like I said above, I tested positive on the 1st of January and I felt totally fine. I had done my training as normal that morning before I got my positive result, a little over 4 hours including some standing starts. The next morning, I was a bit unsure about what I should do regarding training. I felt good but I was aware that it might do harm if I did train. I ummed and ahhed all day about whether I would train, and at about 6pm, I decided I would just hop on the turbo for an hour.

That turned out to be a BAD idea. As soon as I got on, I started to feel nauseous. I could barely pedal, my power output was so low and effort-wise I felt like I was trying to finish a marathon. I kept going for an hour – I’m not sure why. Am I stupid or stubborn,or both? I think both!

I got off the turbo after an hour and I was WEAK. I felt as weak as a baby, it took all of my energy to take a shower, and I crawled into bed at 7:30 and slept for 12 hours. I didn’t have any other symptoms but the weakness was unlike anything I had felt before.

I woke up the next morning feeling so much better. That was it for me – I was over the worst if it. I spent the next 9 days in my bedroom, and my quarantine ended on the 11th of January. During that time, I had some symptoms come and go: I lost my taste for a day, and I had a ringing in my ears for maybe 2 days. By the time I was able to get out of my room and back on the bike on the 11th, I felt fully recovered.


I have to admit that I was a bit scared to get back into training. Having heard horror stories of athletes suffering with myocarditis or long-COVID, I wanted to make sure that I eased myself back into training and kept a close eye on how my body was feeling.

I spent my first week back training just doing what I felt like doing, keeping it mostly in my Z2 heart rate and not going for too long. After that initial week, I touched base with my coach, Ronan McLaughlin, and we made a plan for getting back into training.

I have to say, compared to some of the horror stories I’ve heard, my recovery has been brilliant. I’m 3 weeks back into my training regime and my fitness is back to where it was. The main difference between now and my first week back training is that I can hit the same powers at a much lower heart rate. When I first got back into training after COVID, I was probably very fresh, which might explain the elevated heart rate a bit too. The efforts are starting to feel a lot easier and I’m feeling strong again!

Data from my first interval session back after COVID. Hitting 228w at 180bpm.

Data from a session after nearly 3 weeks back at training. Hitting 234w at 162bpm.

There are definitely guidelines you should follow, so if you have had a bad dose of COVID-19, I would recommend getting in touch with a doctor or a healthcare professional to guide you in your return to sport. I have also linked a document here from Sport Ireland that I found very helpful.

I have also included my affiliate link to the Whoop website here. You can get a free band and one month free membership by clicking on that link.