As of today, Dec. 8, 2020, the U.S. has a rate of close to 200,000 confirmed new infections of coronavirus per day, according to the Centers for Disease Control data center, which is updating daily. Cases in the last seven days alone top one million, and all told, more than 280,000 lives have been lost to COVID-19 in this country.
We’re all experiencing the pandemic in our own individual ways, and in more recent time, as cases surge across the U.S., and Michigan this week enacted a 12-day extension of the statewide Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) epidemic order, the virus and its myriad impacts continue to find new and challenging ways — and in some cases, personal and devastating ways — of affecting us, as individuals, families, and communities.
Here at MRG, we wanted to share heartfelt and honest stories of what it’s been like for two northern Michigan runners who recently received a COVID diagnosis. In this episode, we talk not only about what it was like to have COVID, but also what recovery looks like and how it can change our views of running, staying active, and staying connected (while being safe) with our family and friends.
Jonny Tornga, an ultrarunner and trail enthusiast, shares his experience of getting COVID in early November. Jonny, 33, who had been training for a 30ish-mile trail run at the time of his diagnosis, had many of the typical symptoms, including loss of taste and smell.
“It knocked me out pretty good. The road to recovery has been a long one. It’s not easy. I feel like I was in pretty good shape before getting it. I was feeling good. [After the diagnosis] it was amazing the lack of energy I didn’t have — and still don’t have. I feel like I’m lacking in that extra push. The mind is there, but the body doesn’t really want to follow just yet. It’s been a struggle, being that I am an active person. It’s frustrating for sure, to say the least.”
Kristen Verrett, an avid runner and racer, also received a COVID diagnosis earlier this fall. The 46-year-old remembers going out for some morning miles the day she became sick.
“I got up and had a really good run. I was feeling good. Later that evening, it hit me. I was tired, I had a fever. I was just exhausted.”
Kristen didn’t lose her sense of taste or smell, but she did feel nauseous for about a week in addition to feeling run-down and extremely fatigued. At the same time, her husband Kyle got sick and received a COVID diagnosis. Thankfully, their two children — Kylanna, 13, and Keegan, 11 — were OK and did not feel ill.
Getting back to a running routine has been tough, for both Kristen and Jonny.
“Just like having any injury, you have to listen to your body. One of my first runs after having COVID, my legs were feeling great, they were ready to move, but my body wasn’t. I ended up pulling a muscle in my back. I wasn’t listening to my body, I wish I would have.”
MRG is grateful to Jonny and Kristen for being willing to share their stories.