Right now, I think it’s fair to say that, the outside world is getting a bit lonely. With larger gatherings banned in many different countries, motivating yourself for getting out for your run is getting that bit harder. You may not even be able to get out of the house due to your restrictions. So how do you get that run in, if your training still means you need to keep your fitness up.
So firstly you need to work out if you still need to run. Look at your race and find out if it’s been cancelled or postponed. If it’s been cancelled you have a choice to make; do you keep training and run your own virtual version of the race? Or do you kick off training completely? Whereas if it’s postponed, the best thing to do is to move your training plan along to the new date. Then in the meantime your training should be reduced, just to keep your fitness level as it is. If you haven’t heard about your chosen race, the best advice I can give you at the moment is to train as best you can in line with what you would have been doing. That may be easier said than done at the moment though!
So you’ve decided to keep training, but what do you do? At the moment most advice is to stay indoors. Here in the UK we’re allowed out for one form of exercise a day, or to shop, receive medical care, for work, or to help someone vulnerable. However, it’s also been suggested that a run of 30 minutes is sufficient for most. In the case of most runners though, 30 minutes doesn’t seem like a lot! The best way to make the most of this time is to tackle those harder sessions, choosing to do intervals or hill repeats instead of a gentle run will help build leg strength at this time. If you’ve already done 3 hard sessions in a week though, do give yourself a break! In terms of long runs, my gut instinct would be to give them a miss at the moment. I’ve given myself a little curfew of about 10km. The more people you see during a run is simply more people that you could spread COVID-19 to, or they could infect you. Whilst we can do our best to keep ourselves to ourselves, it is difficult to be completely sanitary and not spread this on. If you’ve a long route where you can guarantee there’ll be no one else, and you don’t need to touch anything on the route (ie, road crossings, wooden gates, or railings), then go for it. I know this might be a little bit hard for most, but getting in that long run is less important than your (and other people’s) health at the moment.
If you normally train with a club, they may have their own ways about keeping you active and motivated to run at the moment. One thing you could do between you and your friends, is share the session that you’ll be doing that week, and try and get others to go out and do it too. Then you can chat with them about how it went, and compare notes. This will help you still feel a part of the community you’ve build and add a bit of solidarity between you and your running friends. If you choose to do this though, urge everyone to do it at different times and on different routes! Encouraging them to run at the same time won’t help with the current situations.
Additionally you may have a treadmill at home, if so you don’t really have an excuse not to run. Or at least that is what I’m trying to tell myself. You have the freedom to run for as long as you want to. Every treadmill is different so you may not be able to do the sessions that you had set out for yourself but you can always adapt. If you’ve an incline you can do a few hill repeats, if the speed goes high enough you can do intervals. Additionally, I’ve a few blog post about how different treadmill sessions you can do, and information about how to connect to the virtual world of Zwift. Right now Zwift is understandably becoming quite popular so there are more and more group runs popping up. I’ve been doing a few runs on here at the moment, replacing Saturday morning Parkrun with a Run in the Park, and they are getting busier.
Exercise outside also doesn’t need to revolve around running. There’s so many fitness videos online for free that you can get in many body weight, or weighted, workouts from your home or garden. We, as runners, do put off a lot of the conditioning work that we know we should be doing to help prevent injury. Well now is the perfect time to get into the habit of getting it done. Just replacing one or two of your runs at the moment with conditioning will help increase your muscle tone and reduce your risk of infection. That sounded serious didn’t it! It doesn’t even need to be just full on workouts, doing a bit of yoga or dancing will be a great way to keep you moving through this period of isolation.
This is also a chance to get in some flexibility work. Whilst it won’t feel like it will benefit you at the moment, give it a few weeks and it will help decrease injury risk as well as muscle soreness. Stretching won’t take long either 5-10 minutes and you’ll be done. The more frequently you can do this the more you’ll benefit from it, but equally the more of a chore it will feel.
Whatever you do, just make sure it isn’t in a popular place. This might mean that you need to go away from the routes you often use, but it will help in the long term. The more we do now will only reduce the length of time it has to stay like this. As always you can see what I’m up to over on Strava or Instagram.