The Coronavirus pandemic is creating many challenges. While all runners understand that running is less important than life, we still want options. As a result, the entire coaching staff at McMillan Running has come up with some tips that can help you over the next few weeks.
1. Exercise to Boost the Immune System
Research suggests that moderate physical activity like an easy run strengthens the immune system. As a result, keep getting in some easy runs even if they are shorter than you’d like. They will help boost your immune system. Here is a nice article about running and the immune system from my friend and mentor Amby Burfoot – How to Train and Eat to Boost Your Immunity from Coronavirus.
And if you can still follow your training plan, continue to focus on recovery, especially after hard/intense workouts. If you feel at risk for the virus, however, then avoid hard/intense workouts as some suggest that those workouts can suppress the immune system. With most races getting canceled, there is less of a focus on race-specific training so many runners are able to re-focus on base training.
Also, since social distancing is critical to reducing the spread for the virus, run in uncrowded areas (trails are a good option) and at times when fewer people may be out.
Lastly, as much as we want to run our normal routes, follow your local mandates. At the moment, I’m under a “shelter in place” order, which means I can still get out and run. If, however, things get more stringent then I’ll turn my attention to some of the ideas listed later in this article.
2. Adjust Training For the Summer/Fall
If your spring race got canceled or postponed and you are freaking out, not to worry. I put together a series of articles and videos on how to re-adjust your training. Here they are:
Make sure you read and watch the video above if you need to change your training plans due to a race cancellation or postponement. It’s easy to do and significantly relieves the stress of having to adjust training.
3. Ramp Up Your Prehab
Many runners are using the extra time they now have (due to working from home – no commute! – and reduced training) to work on prehab. I’m a big fan of this idea and you might be surprised how strong you are when you can return to full training.
Go through all of the McMillan prehab routines. (Note: Prehab routines are included in Run Team. You can try it for free here if you are not already a member.) Experiment and see what movements/exercises really address your weak/unstable areas. Do the mobility routines and the yoga recovery program. Try them all and use this time to tend to your body. The focus on prehab could pay big dividends once normal training is resumed.
4. Get Creative to Get Moving
Cross-Train: If you can’t get out for a run, then it’s time to get creative. In Run Team, I have all of my cross-training plans and workouts available for you. Load those plans into your training calendar and you’ll easily maintain your base fitness even if you can’t run.
Equipment-free routines: If you don’t have access to cross-training equipment (like a bike, elliptical, etc.), then fun indoor workouts are the way to go. Here are some great examples:
- Marathon Legs – Coach Angela’s equipment-free routine is a game-changer for many runners. The program is designed to build fatigue-resistant legs and core and because it requires no equipment, it’s perfect for times like these.
- Fit & Fast Routines – These are my fun runner-friendly circuit training routines. They are short, efficient and can be done anywhere (including your garage, living run or hallway/driveway). The Fit & Fast Routines are included in Run Team.
- Greg’s Gut Buster – This is a circuit that really gets the heart pumping.
– Run in place for 30 seconds
– Jumping jacks (15-30 jumps)
– 5 burpees
– Run in place for 30 seconds
– Mountain climbers for 30 seconds
– Side skip form drill
– Grapevine form drill
– A skip form drill
– Jump rope for 15-30 jumps
(Repeat the circuit till pleasantly fatigued. Add more and less volume/intensity as you like.)
If you don’t know what one of the exercises is, just do a quick YouTube search and you’ll find examples.
And here is a follow-along video for a workout from the internet that you may like: The High-Intensity Cardio Workout You Can Do In Your Living Room
And if you have your own home gym, here is a fun circuit as used by phenom, Katelyn Tuohy: Katelyn Tuohy Indoor Strength Training | Workout Wednesday
Or, check out (and try for a few minutes) what sub 2 hour marathoner Eliud Kipchoge does for his indoor training: Eliud Kipchoge Endurance Strength Training Workout
Rent/Buy a Treadmill: Since I no longer live where it snows, I sold my treadmill. It’s times like this, however, that I wish I still had it. If you’ve been thinking about buying one, then now’s a great time. Do your research then you can probably order it online and have it delivered.
Some businesses that sell fitness machines will even rent out equipment. Call around to see if a store near you rents equipment. It could be a great way to keep running for a few weeks while we wait for the pandemic to subside.
Play with your Kids: Kids toys and activities are some of the best cross-training/prehab for runners. Since many kids are out of school, join them in their fun and work on your lean, mean running machine body at the same time. Here’s what I mean:
- Scooters (aka the world’s greatest hip strengthening tool): Talk about a great single leg stance/hip stability exercise. Ride a scooter for a while and I bet you’ll find a big training stimulus to your hips.
- Jump rope: There may not be a better exercise for putting spring in your step. Start slow but over time, you will see big improvements in your leg strength and bounciness.
- Hopscotch: Another great tool for practicing single leg stance, balance and coordination.
- Skipping, Hopping, Jumping: Just go play. Be a kid again. (And your kids will get a kick out of watching you trying to be coordinated again!)
- Twister: Got mobility and balance? A game of twister is always a good way to get in a mobility session.
It doesn’t have to be organized but simply playing with your kids is great cross-training and it’s fun!
Need some inspiration?
Check this out. This guy is getting his miles within this tiny apartment. Big miles. Small space. Talk about turning lemons into lemonade!
Mental Training: Now is also a good time to ramp up your mental training. From visualization to meditation to breathing techniques to mantras and inspirational quotes, without stepping foot outside, you can work on and hone your mental skills. I’m a firm believer that ultimate success comes when the athlete is in the right mindset for her and she’s excited (and a little nervous) to challenge herself. Not to avoid discomfort but to willingly challenge herself to keep pushing even when the brain is screaming to back off. The more mental weapons you have and the more resolute you are to face the inevitable suffering in racing your best, the better you will be in your next training cycle and race.
5. Respect the Stress
The pandemic and its ramifications can be overwhelming. We all must respect that this is a stressful time. And just like I always preach, when life stress increases, we must decrease the training stress to keep the stress/rest cycle in balance. This is definitely a time when we must be very flexible in our approach to running but I hope that the ideas listed above give you some things you can put in place immediately to help get through the coronavirus pandemic.
As always, let me know if I can be of any help.
PS: You are not alone! Run Team members share how they are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.
What I have been focusing on and sharing is that no training is ever wasted. Even if we don’t make it to a start line for whatever reason, we are giving ourselves a new starting point for the next time around. Running is a great form of stress relief and helps me to maintain some level of normal when everything else is crazy around me. Plus I usually run alone so I’m doing my part to be socially distant! – Ramona
I took my race cancellation quite badly and was catatonic for a couple of hours. Then I reminded myself that it’s actually the process of training that I love and that’s still there. The victory lap and celebration at the end of the process may be different but I’ve come to terms with it now and it was actually a relief to get a decision either way as the uncertainty was making me stress out. – James
I believe a thankful spirit is maybe the best fuel for when there are “road blocks” along the way. I tell myself, “Darin, give thanks that you can run today…you will not always in a place in life where you can do this thing that you enjoy so much.” – Darin
PPS: Learn more about the virus and running. Here is an excellent article from iRunFar that explains more about the virus and running.
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