A huge proportion of the world’s population is currently under a form of lockdown thanks to the coronavirus. Staying indoors for weeks on end, the days broken up by a trip to the shops or a walk/run outside, forgetting what it was like to leave the house without worrying for your safety. Yeah, sounds familiar. With all this extra time at our disposal, we should use it for something productive. In this article, we’ll explore 6 ways to improve your running during coronavirus lockdown.
Don’t use the Coronavirus as an excuse to press pause on running
The most important thing is that you maintain a positive mindset and don’t give up with your running during the lockdown period. Sure, it’ll be challenging both mentally and physically but you must prioritise running if you’re to maintain fitness and passion for the sport.
Some runners I know are acting like this COVID-19 induced lockdown is the end of the world for their running. They’re not getting the miles in, have ditched their training plans and have forgotten about running for the moment. Why?
I have no idea why some who brand themselves ‘runners’ are giving up that easily. Seriously! Yes, being told to stay inside is tough. Not seeing friends and family sucks. It’s challenging becoming a supply teacher if you have children. Lockdown is hard but you must continue running because there are so many benefits associated with the sport.
Some examples of benefits are improved mood, increased energy, better sleep, feeling alert, exploring new places, connecting with nature and many more. For more benefits of running to convince you to keep it up during lockdown, read the following article.
Make the most of lockdown time to improve your running
It’s strange how the social aspects of life are temporarily on hold. Rather than being overwhelmed by the lockdown measures (mostly to stay inside) ensure you utilise the time wisely to improve your running.
How? There are tonnes of ways you can get better. This article will give you 6 practical ways you can implement immediately.
A note on running outside and following Coronavirus rules
If you can run outside during Coronavirus lockdown make sure you follow your government’s rules and guidance.
I, in the UK for example, am keeping 2 metres apart from anyone I encounter by running around them and am running solo to adhere to the current rules in place. Do the same where you’re from.
There’s been a lot of unnecessary ‘bad-mouthing’ of runners on social media by users who think they know better than the government, who are being advised by the best medical and scientific experts the country has to offer.
If you’re venturing out for a run, follow your government’s advice and show us runners follow the rules whilst exercising. That’ll show those taking it upon themselves to unnecessarily police the situation on social media! Okay, rant over. Let’s get on with the article.
1. Create a Running Plan
‘A goal without a plan is just a wish.’ – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Have you got a running plan? Most people I speak to don’t. Why is it so important to have a running plan? The above quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry beautifully summarises why. A plan is a step by step method of how you intend to achieve something.
Say you want to run a marathon distance without stopping as your ultimate goal. In order to achieve this goal, you’ll require a detailed plan which outlines how you intend to achieve this goal.
Without having a plan to follow for working towards your running goals, you’re at risk of aimlessly wandering with random, un-coordinated workouts which don’t systematically contribute to getting you to your goal.
For the marathon goal, this might include running 10 miles one day, 1 mile the next day, having 3 days off, then running 15 miles the next day, and the mess continues. No plan is in place to gradually build up the strength and endurance to run 26.2 miles in one go. The likely result? Failing to run a marathon distance and possibly injuring yourself. Not good and not fun!
Use the extra time you have in lockdown to build a tailored running plan. Sit down with a pen and paper (or digital device) and make a running plan.
First, write down what your running goal is. Really think about it and be precise. It’s no good being vague with a goal like ‘my goal is to run far and fast.’ Instead, make your goal SMART. This means your goal should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.
A good example of a SMART running goal would be ‘my goal is to run a marathon in under 3.5 hours by June 30th 2020.’ Once your goal is determined and written down you can start to plan exactly how you’re going to achieve that goal i.e. how many running sessions a week, mileage, nutrition etc.
There are plenty of example training plans online for you to follow/take inspiration from. Once you have a goal worked out, search online for a corresponding training plan and you’ll quickly be able to find something to work with.
Use the coronavirus period to create a running plan. It’ll make your running much more structured, effective and increase your chances of achieving your goals.
2. Build New Routes
Are you bored of running the same old route? It’s easy to slip into a routine of running through the same environment every time you pound the pavement. An identical run day in day out soon gets boring and there’s a risk of losing passion for running.
As the coronavirus lockdown means we now all have more time on our hands, it’s a great opportunity to build some new routes. Running through new places is exciting and gives you a chance to explore.
On a recent long run of a route built in the lockdown, I travelled through a series of beautiful villages in the Kent countryside just 10 miles away from my house. It was refreshing to get some peace and quiet on my run, away from my urban area. Had I not taken the time to build the route prior to going for the run I never would have found the villages.
Free sports activity tracking apps like Strava offer neat route building features which can allow you to digitally plan a new route before going.
If you have a good knowledge of your local area, build a new route in your mind and follow it on your next run.
Building new routes take only 10/15 minutes to do but can add so much excitement to your running during the lock down.
3. Book Events
Another activity we know we should do but find it hard to get around to due to time or life commitments is booking running events.
Why does booking onto running events take so much time? First, you have to find a quiet space to focus, load up a computer, find the events, read the description, check you can get there okay on race day, then enter your card information for payment. Oh, and if you’re a diligent person you’ll want to block out a few days to read the terms and conditions too.
With the Coronavirus lockdown imposed on many countries, there’s now more time on our hands to do these admin tasks we know we should do but never seem to get around to under normal circumstances. I’ve taken some time to book onto 3 races over 3 months from January-March 2020. Mr. Organised or what?
Nobody knows when the Coronavirus restrictions will be lifted because nobody can predict how the pandemic will go. As a safe bet, I’d recommend booking events from September 2020 onwards although this could be completely dependant on where you are in the world and how the pandemic develops so please do not hold me accountable for cancellations!
Anyway, most race organisers have been excellent in re-scheduling cancelled races and communicating the current situation to runners who had signed up for their races. In most cases, any races cancelled due to Coronavirus will be rescheduled for a time in the not so distant future. Where this isn’t possible, you’ll more than likely receive a full refund.
There you have it, no excuses. Start filling up your calendar with some running events!
4. Do More Solo Long Runs
If you’re still able to go outside use the time to get more long runs in. With the majority of the population essentially bound to their homes, now is the perfect time for long runs.
Traditionally, long runs are done on Sundays because they’re the least busy day of the week in terms of road and pavement traffic. However, the Coronavirus lockdown has flipped this on its head and now every day can be considered a ‘quiet day’.
In the town where I’m from, Maidstone in the UK, I can only describe every day as feeling like Christmas day. The roads resemble the barren wasteland of a spaghetti western with the silence occasionally broken up by a passing emergency, logistics or industrial vehicle. You do pass people on the pavement but this is a rare occurrence.
People truly are following the current advice of the government which is to ‘stay at home’. With fewer people out it means you’re less likely to break the steady and constant long-run flow. There’s nothing more irritating than when you have to stop at traffic lights for 2 minutes after having run for 5 miles straight.
Alternatively, having to constantly weave in and out of crowds on a supposedly ‘calm’ street interrupts a consistent cadence. Running when it’s quiet during the Coronavirus lockdown means you’ll be able to take advantage and go for more long runs. You’ll improve your running in no time.
Each week, I’m currently clocking up 40-45 miles at the moment and I’m getting most of the miles in over several long runs. These are runs which are typically 30-50% longer than your average run and should be done at a comfortable pace, all in the name of bettering endurance.
5. Research and Purchase any Needed Gear
When we’re swamped in the busy commitments of daily life it’s hard to find the time to devote to defining what your running equipment requirements are and sourcing them. Not anymore.
For many of us, the Coronavirus lockdown means we’re confined to our homes for 95% of the time. This means we have more time on our hands to dedicate to activities we have needed to complete for a while but ‘haven’t been able to find the time.’
Many of us runners have a list of things we know we need but never get around to purchasing. We know our shoes need replacing, it’s going to be winter soon so we should get a sports jacket, our water bottle broke 2 months ago, and that we have run out of our energy gel supply, but we never sit down and make a list before procuring all of these things.
For example, I’ve needed new running shoes for 2 months now. The recommendation is that you should change your shoes roughly every 500 miles; I’ve had mine for over 800 and the rubber on the souls is slowly wearing away.
I really should know better! I’ve been running long enough! I just never get around to sitting down and taking the time to do the research before making purchases. Now, because of the Coronavirus lockdown, it’ll be easier for me to find the time and get the gear I need.
Use an evening to devote to a running equipment procurement exercise. Sit down with a cup of tea, a pen and paper and make a list of everything you need. Once you’re clear on what it is you need, get on your computer and start researching some the gear online.
Bookmark the running gear you like at the end of the session where you will hopefully be in a position to make the purchases. Ideally, you’ll want to streamline all purchasing activity into one session so mentally it’s a task ticked off of your to-do list. You don’t want to have to carry around the mental pressure of knowing there are an additional 3 items requiring further thought and research before purchasing from an unfinished task.
Write down every little item you need in a quick brain dump before thinking in more detail. Think about what your running requirements are and whether or not all the items you’ve jotted down are a necessity or a nice to have.
For example, a designer running jacket might be nice to have if you already have a perfectly okay running jacket that you already use. Part of spending wisely on running gear is assessing whether you really need what you think you need. Remember, there is a degree of emotion in every purchase. Make sure you apply some logic to your purchases before clicking the ‘buy now’ button!
For articles on running equipment & gear, check out the ‘Clothing & Accessories‘ category.
6. Join Running Discussions/Threads Online
The social running world may be on pause for many of us, but that doesn’t mean the social discussion is. Us runners are a friendly bunch and we love to chat about running with one another.
Facebook groups, online threads, forums, discussions, Whats App groups, YouTube videos, blogs, running websites, you name it. Where there’s a suitable space for discussion to take place, runners will find it and start to natter away between themselves.
Hot topics include training plans, events being trained for, race experiences, diet, gear, sporting events, whether people have been successful in their London marathon ballot (I’m never successful sadly), tips for building betters routes and many, many more.
If you want to improve your running during Coronavirus lockdown, get social and learn from other runners. There’s an unlimited number of conversations taking place right now so go find one and get involved.
To get started, you could go to the Facebook search bar and type in where you live (i.e. the town, city, province, state) followed by ‘running’ and a group will more than likely pop up for you to join. Give it a try!