You were training for your first half, or towards placing in the top 10% of finishers in the Bolder Boulder, or for that big marathon you worked so hard to qualify for, but COVID-19 had other plans for your running glory. Now, you’ve found yourself quarantined at home with no race to look forward to. Fret not, young runner, for you can continue your training even during a pandemic. In fact, it’s important that you keep up your miles during this crazy time. Running keeps your body and mind healthy--and that’s the best way to fight the coronavirus!
It’s important that you maintain social distancing while you continue training for your big race. Just because it’s been postponed doesn’t mean you can’t run in another race once this is all over. Here are some important social distance running practices to follow while we wait for this whole thing to blow over.
Go At It Alone
Now is not the time to meet with your neighborhood running group. It’s important to continue your training alone because social distancing is about isolation. Meeting your friends to take a jog down the waterfront is not a responsible practice. When you run, you’re breathing heavier than you normally would if you were walking. If someone in your group is an asymptomatic COVID-19 patient, then you could be infecting each other and not even know it.
You should be running in the early morning or (if you have light-up gear) later at night. The idea is to run when there are fewer people on the street. You can wear a mask, but if that’s difficult for you, just remain conscious of your surroundings (and avoid wearing headphones or keep one ear open if you must). If you’re approaching pedestrians during your run--make an effort to move further away from them. Maintain your social distance, but give a nice wave to keep spirits up.
Keep a handkerchief in your pocket. Sometimes, if one’s nose or throat becomes a little clogged during a run, runners like to spit into the street. This is irresponsible during a pandemic. Bringing a handkerchief with you on your run is the more responsible way to get rid of unwanted mucus during a jog. You can throw it into the laundry as soon as you get home. In fact, you should throw all of your running gear into the laundry right away. COVID-19 stays on fabrics for days, so you can’t lounge around in your running gear while you work from home all day.
It’s important to keep up your miles when waiting for your big race day, but now is also a great time to cross-train. Cross-training is a great way to build muscle and flexibility. When you cross-train properly, running becomes easier. There are plenty of things you can do at home to build strength and flexibility on your off days.
There are a lot of workout resources online you can take advantage of. If you’ve never tried yoga, now is a great time to dive in. Yoga is great for flexibility, and it’s perfect if you’ve been doing a lot of social distance running. If you’re a beginner, we recommend Yoga with Adriene. This YouTube Channel has a wide variety of workouts that range from beginner to advanced--and it’s free! The videos are organized by length, theme, and ability. It’s a great start to a solid yoga practice.
Planet Fitness is streaming free 20-minute at-home workouts every day to help the world get through this ordeal and stay healthy. The campaign is called United We Move, and you can tune in every day at 7 pm EST on Facebook. You can also sign up for Beachbody and try their workout routines for free for 14 days. Doing these types of workouts at home can help you focus on strengthening different parts of your body, making your runs even easier.
This might be a good time to invest in some new workout gear. Get a pair of dumbbells or a resistance band. If you order them online, it might take a while to get there--but it’ll be worth it. Getting items like a stationary bike stand can help make your workouts more versatile. You can even invest in gear that cares for your body, like a foam roller or a Chirp wheel.
Just because your race has been canceled, doesn’t mean you can’t create your own victories. Try to come up with ways to challenge yourself while you’re isolated. How fast can you run a mile? How long can you run for? Try to give yourself benchmarks to work up to. It’s like playing a game with yourself. You can even order a little trophy or medal online...if that makes you feel more validated.
Challenge your friends! Maybe you can’t run together, but you can still compare each other’s results and wager the outcome in beer or embarrassing scenarios. It’ll give you something to look forward to once the quarantine has subsided. Did you run a mile faster than your buddy Cliff? Well, now he has to mow your lawn this summer. You win!
Make it a family affair and challenge your kids to some running milestones. Exercising with your kids is a great way to keep them healthy and active during COVID-19. Plus, you want to encourage a healthy exercise routine post-pandemic too. This is a great place to start.
Now is a great time to exercise your mind when it comes to your exercise of choice. The Running Formula by Jack Daniels, Ph.D. (yes, that is his real name) is a great book if you want to improve your running game. This book is filled with scientific running formulas that will “guide you through training at exactly the right intensity to run stronger, longer, and faster.” This is the third edition of this book, and Jack keeps updating it. It’s is a great companion for any avid runner.
Join Virtual Races
You can run in a virtual race all by yourself. No, these races aren’t like those annoying Zoom conference calls you’re sitting in on all week. You can run a race without having to gather in a crowd. Thanks to the internet, there are plenty of opportunities to get your race on. It’ll satiate your competitive thirst while you’re confined to your solitude.
Running brands who were sponsoring running series have transitioned to virtual races. Rambling Runner(www.theramblingrunner.com), sponsored by SynchroKnit Powered by Wigwam, has created a series of multiple distance challenges. The Wasatch Trail Series is keeping runners and sponsors satisfied by creative solo challenges for its committed runners.
Apps like Runkeeper help you track your running progress, but they also host virtual events every month. You can run a 5K, a 10K, or whatever crazy milestone Runkeeper throws your way. It’s a great way to keep track of your training and gives you the opportunity to participate in these virtual events. It requires little effort, and you don’t even have to pay an entrance fee.
You can also check out Strava, an app that helps you find courses right in your backyard. Runners use Strava to create courses of their own and share them with friends on the Strava app. You can push yourself and get on the leaderboard of your favorite route to create some friendly competition. Remember when we told you to challenge your friends? Strava allows you to create a virtual competition between you and your friends while maintaining social distance.
These may be scary times, but you can use your running habit to channel that anxiety into a healthy routine. It’s okay to be bummed if your race was canceled, but know that there will be others! You just need to use this time to stay in shape and feel free to get creative. Now is the perfect time to try something you’ve never done before. Now lace up those running shoes, and go!