Post-covid heart rate anomalies

Hi, just wondering if anyone has experience of seeing any unusual heart rate patterns when resuming training after covid?

I had mild covid over Easter where I felt a bit tired but not particularly ill. My first post- covid workout with any intensity was a 4 x 8 minutes on the 27th April ridden on feel with the first effort somewhat below threshold to see how it went before increasing intensity a bit for subsequent intervals. All seemed to be normal.

I then did an online RGT TT race lasting 22:54 on the 3rd May where this happened
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Average HR was 164bpm which is fairly normal for a threshold effort. Around 14 minutes in though, my heart rate dropped slightly before going up and down a bit for about 6 minutes before stabalising again for the last few minutes. Heart rate peaked at 183bpm which in the last few years would be close to my max only usually seen at the end of a maximal sprint effort.

I then did an outdoor club time trial race on Tuesday (17th May) where something similar happened. Again riding with an elevated heart rate for about 5 minutes of my 25 minute race at a level that I wouldn’t usually see during this type of sustained threshold effort (HR ave 168bpm max 182bpm)

Its a 10 mile 2 lap rolling course with 4 left turns each lap so power isn’t very steady but HR would typically undulate slightly and rise gradually after the initial few minutes . This was my race effort on the same course last year (HR ave 165bpm max 175bpm).

I have asked my doctor for advice and waiting to hear but wondered if anyone else had seen anything similar?

Excitement because of the race? Mental processes can elevate hr too.

I don’t think so. I’ve been racing TT’s regularly for the last 10 years and I don’t think my HR has ever been over 180bpm before. The only times I’ve seen it that high are in ramp tests or at the pointy end of a track race

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Warning: anecdata follows:

I’ve worked with three athletes plus myself who had COVID in the past six months. All four of us noted increased HR for equivalent efforts after recovering from COVID. In my case, and the case of two others, it seemed to last for about a month after restarting training before returning to baseline. On the TrainerRoad forum, there’s a long thread about this as well and many people note the higher heart rate.

Now… why? Could be myocarditis. Could be loss of fitness from 7-10 days off the bike. Could be something else… I don’t know. I’m not a doctor… but thus far three of four athletes have recovered and resumed training following a conservative easing back into training after about a week entirely off the bike. (The fourth is still recovering in terms of training).

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that is interesting, I have to admit my n=1 case is that last evening I was out for what I set as a relatively easy ride and I noted that my heart rates were higher than normal for equivalent efforts (about 10 beats/min) or taken another way similar heart rates and different power inputs… about 20 watts different. Let’s hope I can dig my way back to where I was. To be honest the effort had a similar RPE, just a very different HR.

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I had the same thing back in September. It lasted for about a month after a mild case of COVID. My HR would be normal until the first time I hit Z3 in a ride. Then it would sit 10-20 beats higher than normal. It was mismatched to my RPE and respiration rate, so I didn’t suspect reduced fitness. It was gone by the time I got in to see my doc. He wasn’t concerned. Had another friend who had similar symptoms, but only for a week. Thankfully everything has been normal since. Dr. Skiba has been tracking this quite a bit, you might search his stuff on Twitter or his website.


This was my experience as well and anecdotally seems common.

Yes, that’s the same for me.

Interestingly my heart rate has been normal on the two short group rides I’ve done. This is a hard one hour-ish chaingang, riding through and off, and heart rate seems perfectly normal rising a bit on the front and recovering in the wheels. The heart rate fluctuations only seems to happen during a sustained TT type effort when it would usually be much steadier.

The good news is I spoke to my doctor and he doesn’t think its a problem as long as I’m not getting chest pain or feeling faint.

i had mild covid in November and dropped 25watts, it has taken me 6months to claw back to where i was - admittedly i was building base for a lot if that so it wasn’t so surprising it took so long.

good to hear others saw similar things.

As others have experienced, I too had higher than usual HR by 10-20 bpms at any level of effort and that lasted about 2 months despite having had a very mild case of covid. I wear an Oura ring, and my resting HR as well as my Heart Rate Variability (HRV) were off my normal parameters for about 3.5 months, even though my HR during workouts had returned to normal.

I had five athletes with covid and they all had some variation of the above.

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Did ‘we’ have the experience after vaccination?

not that I can see from my data, but the reaction to vaccination vs having the illness were very different. In the latter I was not feeling well and far more sick and whole body sore than I was from a sore arm after the vaccine. The vaccine reaction was maybe 24h, my HRV data and resting HR both reacted to the onset and decline of the illness in a very definite way that post hoc is quite easily identified. I also see that both HR and HRV have not yet returned to my per COVID trends 1 month out.

After my booster I noted a big drop in HRV on the day after which went along with how bad I felt. I noticed that my resting HR was elevated for about a week as well.

If you mean following the shots, yes, I had one day of feeling generally crappy and not training after each of my shots, in particular the second shot (milder after the booster). I did not notice any HR change after the one day rest period following shots.

If you mean vaccinated vs. unvaccinated, I don’t ask my athlete’s vaccine status, but my personal one was yes, I was vaccinated but caught COVID immediately after my booster. Likely the booster hadn’t “taken effect” yet, as I was likely infected before the booster but didn’t show symptoms until after.

So take that for what it’s worth!