So, during this time of uncertainty, you've taken up the opportunity of your one hour of exercise a day by lacing up your trainers and heading out for a run?
Undoubtedly with varying success if you are remotely working from home, teaching the children, taking the dog for a walk, squeezing in a Joe Wick's workout and generally trying to stay safe and sane!
Anyway, here are a few things that you could consider to help yourself keep on track.
1. Take it steady. It's important to build up slowly in terms of distance and pace. Allow yourself to walk when you need to, go at a pace that may FEEL really slow, but you'll be thankful for in the long run(!)
It's good to get into the habit of starting with a warm up walk or an easy jog, before moving into your run. Add a few mobility exercises to this and your body be well prepared to get moving.
If you are an absolute beginner, or have just completed the Couch to 5k, then stick with the shorter distances for a while.
If you have been running for a long time, it is still important to complete some of your runs at a rate that is nice and easy. Check out this link to Runner's World magazine for more details about the Rate of Perceived Exertion.
2. Be consistent. Aim to go out two or three times a week if you are just starting out, or 4/5 times if you have already been running for a while. Allow the mileage to increase in small increments, be it in distance or time on feet.
Many runners keep track of their efforts using watches and apps. This may be to record a route, or for tracking training runs in the lead up to races and events. Find what suits you. Mix up the distances you run and try running for a certain amount of time rather than waiting to stop the watch at exactly 5 kilometres.
3. Vary the type of runs that you do. It's an easy trap that many fall in to; finding a route and running it all the time. Whilst there is nothing really bad about this, it can lead to boredom and unnecessary pressure if you don't see improvement each time to head out. In order to progress, consider the terrain you run on or add in a hill training session or some pace intervals to build strength and stamina.
4. Compliment your running by doing other activities. Strength and Conditioning - HIIT workouts, Cycling, Yoga or Pilates are all sessions you can do alongside your running. It's good to vary the muscles you use to minimise the risk of injury; by increasing muscular strength as well as cardiovascular strength, your running will improve. Include stretching to enhance flexibility and you'll be springing out of bed in the morning rather than creaking down the stairs!
5. Self-care. Give yourself recovery days where you give your body time to adapt to your new goals. Foam roll or get someone (usually me!!!) to massage aching muscles.
It's fine to have a day where you don't train; although in the long-term, you may find that it's hard NOT to do something on a daily basis. On these days, a good walk will keep the body moving without putting it under too much stress.
6. Find a way to keep you motivated. THIS is where a lot of people are struggling at the moment. I know that I'm missing my Running Groups but whilst we are unable to meet others to train with, these are the ways that I can help you....
- Virtual 1:1 advice, guidance and accountability
- Be accountable for your goals in the closed FB Group 'Stronger and Healthier in 2020'
- Join our Strava Running Circles group for local run routes and to challenge yourself against others
The most important thing at the moment is to do what you can when it suits you. Find a network of people who can support you and motivate you. Enjoy the process and take each day as it happens.
It is for the short term. It will come to an end and we will all be able to run together again soon.
Until then, stay safe.