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The coronavirus pandemic has created a really strange and challenging situation for everyone, including runners. With governments implementing social distancing rules, many races have been postponed or canceled. But now is not the time to lose hope. Here are some tips on staying inspired and looking at the big picture:
Reset your goals
We all need to do our part in flattening the curve, even if it means moving running events to a later date. This is why it's a good idea to sit down and reset our goals. For instance, you can still aim to complete the Boston Marathon later this year. I’ve also predicted that there will be a surge in Fastest Known Times (FKTs), after the lockdowns have been lifted. The elites will definitely be gunning for FKTs in future races, while amateurs can simply aim to beat their PRs.
It’s important to set a measurable goal for yourself during this forced off-season, even if it’s something as simple as running a 5K. That way, you have something to keep you driven.
Stick to a routine
Luckily for us, roads and trails are still accessible, and we can continue putting in the miles. Running is actually one of the permissible activities under most social distancing rules. Sticking to your routine doesn’t just mean you won’t lose your progress — it’s also important for keeping a sense of normalcy during these hard times.
However, you have to keep in mind that running outdoors means putting yourself and others at risk. This is why health experts emphasize running alone and maintaining a distance of at least six feet from other people. Dr. David Nieman of Appalachian State University also recommends wearing a face mask, such as a Buff, or any moisture-wicking fabric while outdoors. Just because you’re asymptomatic doesn’t guarantee that you can’t spread the disease, so it’s best to take every precaution.
Pick up a meditation habit
With that extra time on your hands, it might be a perfectly good idea to start meditating daily. It does more than relieve anxiety, with Parsley Health's Dr. Robin Berzin stating that it also activates the parasympathetic nervous system. This is responsible for the "rest and digest" response of our bodies, which runners have a hard time activating during hard miles. You can do this by taking fuller breaths, which in turn lowers your heart rate and reduces your race anxiety. And once you’re able to train normally again, see if you can switch on to a more relaxed mode on the road.
Keep challenging yourself
For runners, races are the ultimate benchmark of training. But not having a race to join in the near future doesn’t mean you have to stop challenging yourself.
For instance, one runner in France was able to complete a marathon on his balcony not once, but twice. According to Elisha Nochomovitz, who registered for the Barcelona Marathon, the virtual race challenged both his body and his mind. And while that might not be something you want to do, you can simply use this time to work on your weaknesses. Whether it’s correcting your form, cross-training, or increasing mobility, there’s always something in your running that you can strive to improve.
Stay updated with the community
In races or running groups, socializing is a huge element of the sport. It’s always nice to have the support of the community wherever we are. This is why Lancaster Road Runners Club co-president Jason Logue updates their page daily and makes it a point to check on members. In a similar way, a running partner or group can help maintain accountability and positivity.
Maintaining a strong mindset can be difficult at this time. However, runners have demonstrated time and time again that we are capable of amazing things. Think of this pandemic as just another race to overcome.