'I have no limits anymore': Long COVID patient, 40, is 'recovered' after prioritising rest

Alexandra Thompson
·4 min read
Luke Hanson (pictured before he developed long COVID) believes scheduled rests enabled him to overcome his debilitating fatigue. (Supplied: Luke Hanson)
Luke Hanson (pictured before he developed long COVID) believes scheduled rests enabled him to overcome his debilitating fatigue. (Supplied: Luke Hanson)

A father who endured debilitating long COVID for months considers himself to be "recovered" after prioritising rest.

Not everyone who overcomes the coronavirus returns to a clean bill of health, with hundreds of thousands of people in the UK alone thought to be enduring lingering complications after supposedly clearing the infection.

In November 2020, Luke Hanson told Yahoo UK long COVID was a "living hell" that once left him too exhausted to get out of the bath.

The ultra-marathon runner, 40, met with a self-professed "fatigue coach" at the beginning of September, who advised he lie on his bed for around an hour twice a day.

Read more: Up to 89% hospitalised with coronavirus endure long COVID two months later

Hanson, from Bristol, believes this scheduled downtime helped rid him of long COVID in just a few months.

The father-of-two is now planning his next ultra-marathon, feeling he has "no limits anymore".

The ultra-marathron runner (pictured before he became unwell) was once too exhausted to get out of the bath. Several months on, he is planning his next race. (Supplied: Luke Hanson)
The ultra-marathron runner (pictured before he became unwell) was once too exhausted to get out of the bath. Several months on, he is planning his next race. (Supplied: Luke Hanson)

Hanson believes he caught the coronavirus while skiing in France in February 2020.

With tests unavailable at the time, he was never officially diagnosed, however, doctors have agreed his fatigue, aches and brain fog fit the bill.

After being "relatively fine initially", by April, Hanson could not run and a month later, "struggled to get through a day".

With long COVID still something of a mystery, the condition has no set treatment, with patients previously advised simply to pace themselves.

Taking matters into his own hands, Hanson contacted a "fatigue coach" he came across online, who advised he take regular breaks, even if he felt well at the time.

Read more: White women most at risk of long COVID

"I would put myself to bed and close my eyes, possibly sleep, but really do nothing," Hanson previously said.

The father-of-two "stopped getting post-exertional malaise" that same month. In November, he was able to ride his bike for up to three hours at a time.

Five months on, Hanson told Yahoo UK: "I now feel recovered.

"I can remember what life was like before long COVID. 

"I couldn't [previously] remember what it was like to choose what I want to do – run for four hours, and then come home and socialise with my family."

While Hanson still gets tired now and again, he "wouldn't put it down to long COVID anymore".

Having run a project management consultancy firm, he was financially comfortable enough to leave the job in order to focus on running in mid-2019.

Amid the pandemic, Hanson has been teaching children as part of the government's national tutoring programme to "help the country bounce back from COVID-19".

"I cycle to work each day, a 30km round trip," he said.

Read more: Scientists get grasp on long COVID's cause

Pre-coronavirus, Hanson could run 5km in 16.5 minutes. "I'm back doing that closer to 17 minutes now," he said. 

"I've run 35km for fun around the trails for three hours. I've probably cycled 150km for fun. I have no limits anymore."

Hanson hopes to run an ultra-marathon in June, however, pent-up demand means this relies on a participant pulling out.

The keen athlete (pictured before he developed long COVID) cycles to his four day a week teaching job, 'a 30km round trip'. (Supplied: Luke Hanson)
The keen athlete (pictured before he developed long COVID) cycles to his four day a week teaching job, 'a 30km round trip'. (Supplied: Luke Hanson)

While he no longer lies on his bed for hours a day, Hanson's long COVID ordeal has prompted him to better prioritise his wellbeing.

"My previous [pre-coronavirus] life was fairly unsustainable because I was always 'on it'," he said. "I saw rest as weakness."

Hanson, who is awaiting his first coronavirus vaccine, now "tries to meditate whenever he remembers to do it".

The ordeal has also given him "great sympathy" for people with chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME).

Speaking of his long COVID, Hanson said: "I didn't feel like a malingerer. I wanted nothing more than to jump out of bed."

With many continuing to endure the coronavirus' after-effects, Hanson's "simple message" is to "hang in there", however, he worries "that doesn't help".

"These people want to know what to do to start their recovery or be 'cured'," he said. "I don't know the answer to that."

Official guidance recommends long COVID patients set realistic goals and join support forums.

While there is "no one-size-fits-all" treatment, Hanson has stressed: "People shouldn't lose hope – because people have recovered."

Watch: What is long COVID?