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How does a top athlete prepare for their return to post-COVID training? | You did see?


Gatineau marathoner Éric Deshaies had it all but easy, he who was bedridden for 10 days. And at the end of his forties, he was not at the end of his ordeals, when he put his sneakers back on.

As soon as I turned on the intensity, I realized that I couldn’t do that.

A quote from Éric Deshaies, marathoner

Forced to take a break, he eventually regained his pre-COVID physical form, to the point of successfully embarking on the challenge of running 10 marathons in 10 days, then a few months later, swallowing 35 times the distance of 6.704 km to win the Big Wolf’s Backyard Ultra.

A runner in action near a small woodland wears sunglasses and a blue and yellow long-sleeved sweater.

Éric Deshaies has taken part in endurance races all over the world (archives).

Photo: Courtesy of Richard McDonald

But it is not Eric Deshaies who wants. He’s an alien! launches Guy Girard, kinesiologist for Universal Health, in Gatineau.

Trained biologist Jean-Philippe Morency is also amazed at the fitness level of the 47-year-old marathoner.

He has been very ill and is doing outstanding sports performances. I know other people who had it a year and a half ago, and they still can’t go for a walk. Why? We don’t even know. Scientists are going to have to study this, says the one who is also known for his background as an athlete and trainer in track and field.

The key: a step-by-step return

Fortunately, not all athletes have been devastated by COVID-19. University of Ottawa Gee-Gees basketball players Borys Minger and Charles-Antoine Gaba were relatively spared from the disease, compared to Éric Deshaies.

If the first did not have the slightest symptom after contracting it in July, so his return to play was easy enough, his teammate, he had very typical symptoms of COVID: runny nose, sore throat, a little cough as well as the loss of smell and taste.

Photo by Borys Minger.

Borys Minger admits to having found his 40s long, but he considers himself lucky to have escaped without the slightest symptoms.

Photo: TurnedNews.com / Olivier Periard

When Charles-Antoine Gaba wanted to reconnect with the basketball court, he forced himself to go one step at a time.

At first, I was short of breath. Took two or three weeks to find it, but after that I was okay, to say the former of Intrepid of Gatineau.

Photo of Samuel Emery on the ice rink.

Samuel Emery was drafted by the Gatineau Olympiques, in the 8th round, during the 2019 auction.

Photo: TurnedNews.com / Olivier Periard

Careful medical monitoring

As the appearance of COVID-19 is still very recent, few scientific studies have been made on how to supervise athletes who have been affected. On the other hand, we know that if the athlete resumes high intensity training too quickly, the consequences can be damaging to his health. For this reason, caution is in order.

We had to be careful not to bring them back too quickly [les joueurs], because it attacks the immune system and the heart.

A quote from Louis Robitaille, Head Coach and General Manager, Gatineau Olympiques

It’s a new disease, so you learn a lot on the job, but the most important thing is you have to deal with it one step at a time. The return must be done extremely slowly, continues the kinesiologist.

Athletes, these born competitors, are racehorses who are eager to get out on the field immediately, and go full speed ahead. Guy Girard has seen it in recent months.

The academic does not want to lose his scholarship. The professional does not want to lose his position and his paycheck. The Olympian must review his cycle.

Get inspired by concussions

To ensure the well-being of its student-athletes, the University of Ottawa set up, early in the pandemic, a protocol to supervise their return to play, with the help of a group of therapists, assisted by doctors and cardiologists.

We met every month to review and modify our protocol, because we learned more and more about the virus., explains Danika Smith, compliance officer and student-athlete services at the school, who played an administrator role.

Photo by Danika Smith.

Prior to being a senior advisor to the University of Ottawa, Danika Smith was captain of the Gee-Gees hockey team.

Photo: U Sports

It’s like a concussion. You have to take it one step at a time and do daily follow-ups. Every day, we met them and we made them fill out a questionnaire.

A quote from Shannon Walsh Moreau, Assistant Therapist

For the two Gee-Gees basketball players, COVID-19 has been more of a psychological challenge. I am an active person who likes to be active every day. There, I lived alone, in a university residence. It was hard, tells Charles-Antoine Gaba, an opinion shared by his friend Borys Minger.

Over the weeks, Ms. Walsh Moreau has indeed observed that some student-athletes who have had to undergo quarantine in their residence have also faced challenges in mental health.

They had to be taken care of, because they did not have the same resources as a student who still lives with his parents. We had to bring them their groceries, she explains.

Psychological work is the most important and the longest, adds kinesiologist Guy Girard.

Manage the human before the athlete

In the spring of 2021, the Gatineau Olympiques were afflicted by a major outbreak of COVID-19, even though they were playing in a protected environment. In all, 19 players were infected and general manager and head coach Louis Robitaille himself was ill.

You put on your father’s hat. You think of these young people, remembers the dad of three children, who had to draw on his reserves to manage it all head-on.

Before all these young people on blades think of putting one foot back on the ice, they had to submit to a very rigorous protocol: There was a big machine behind the return to play and a battery of tests, including an EKG machine..

Louis Robitaille in an interview in the Olympic locker room.

The hockey man says the organization and the QMJHL have also approached it as a comeback after a concussion. During the first training sessions, Olympic hockey players were equipped with a heart monitor. The coaches and the medical team followed the results in real time.: ” him, lower him a little ” or even ” him, he’s had enough, take him out ” “,” text “:” We said to each other: ” him, drop him a little little ” or ” him, he’s had enough, take him out ” “}} ‘>We said to ourselves: ” Him, lower him a little ”, or even: ” Him, he’s had enough, take him out ”, says Louis Robitaille.

We didn’t care about hockey […] We didn’t want a player to make their condition worse.

A quote from Louis Robitaille, Head Coach and General Manager, Gatineau Olympiques

As a bonus, it all happened in the run-up to the playoffs. For a rare time, the born competitor that is Louis Robitaille will say that he didn’t give a damn about hockey.

Seven months later, the head coach and general manager says it with relief: the 19 skaters are doing well and are no longer suffering from the after-effects of COVID-19. And that, for Louis Robitaille, is worth much more than any victory.

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