Running Through Tough Times

Getting out for your next training run might not be high on the list of concerns right now with the current crisis, but it just might be the one thing that keeps you sane and brings some balance back into your life. With runners facing canceled races, closed gyms, social-distancing eliminating group runs, how do you stay motivated, positive, and keep training during these challenges? Here are some suggestions to help keep you running and safe.

REGULAR SCHEDULE: If you have a regular schedule of training days—days you run, cross-train, rest, etc.,—stick to it. Keep to your normal routine as much as possible. The smallest bit of consistency can keep stress levels down and your miles up. Though races are currently canceled and pending re-scheduled dates, you can keep training for them as if they were still going to happen. No matter what your schedule is, make a commitment to reach a certain goal or number of miles and stick with it. You should no longer look at training as specific to a certain race; it’s time to be training for LIFE.

VIRTUAL RACES: Many canceled races are offering runners the option to defer or run a race virtually. If you have the time, opt to do the virtual race, which allows you to run during an appointed time wherever its convenient (e.g., neighborhood, the track, or even on a treadmill). Your race medal and bib will be mailed to you and put your training to good use. 

When my Virginia Beach Shamrock half-marathon was canceled, my friends and I dressed up in green, wore our race bibs, and did the race virtually at our favorite running trail. We didn’t let the cancelation dampen our mood, but adjusted accordingly, and had a lot of fun in the process. 

Local running stores, like Fleet Feet, are also offering virtual races with race swag to keep people motivated and training. After you run your virtual race, you can post it to social media or your running club page to share the results with your friends.

CROSS-TRAINING: With gyms closed, it’s time to be creative to get your cross-training and strength workouts in. Working out at home can be done with little or no equipment at all. If you have some weights, great! Get to work! But if you don’t, you can supplement with exercises, such as BURPEES, planks, push-ups, sit-ups, squats, lunges, bridges, and triceps-dips, to get an overall workout without leaving out a muscle group. 

If you have a bike, take it outside for your cardio cross-training. Walking at a quick pace or incorporating stairs can also be beneficial. A jump-rope takes up no space at all and will get the heart rate up in no time. Several gyms are offering free apps with home workouts with trainers and some personal trainers are holding classes through zoom meetings or Skype. Maybe now is the perfect time to try out that yoga video you keep putting off—of course, if you still feel like you’re missing out, there are a lot of good deals popping up online for ellipticals, rowing machines, and treadmills. 

STRETCHING/FOAM ROLLING: More time inside means more time to dedicate to recovery. Stretching will alleviate tight-restricted muscle tissue that can lead to injury. Foam rolling gets blood flow to the muscles and breaks up micro-tears in the tissue, which also helps eliminate the risk of injury. Take this time to increase your stretching and foam rolling and it will become part of your routine, one well past your quarantine. Break it out while you binge-watch your favorite series.  

EMBRACE THE SOLO RUN: Social-distancing can be tough for runners who enjoy the social aspect that group runs provide. Take this time to enjoy the peacefulness of the solo run and treat it like a new adventure. You won’t need to worry about your pace being too fast or slow for your running buddies, and you can enjoy your favorite music or podcast, or listen to the silence of nature. As Olympic tri-athlete Chrissie Wellington put it, “Spend time training on your own and challenge your mind to stay focused.” Enjoy this time to be comfortable with yourself and keep an eye on your own training goals. 

Though the world might seem uncertain, you have the power to keep the simplicity of running as genuine as possible. Continue to train. Make personal goals. Keep a regular schedule. Try new home workouts to keep up your strengthening and endurance. 

Remember, though things might be closed down right now, thankfully, running is not one of them.

Run safe and happy,


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