KATHLEEN LENINGER (PT & DPT)
As the 2020 IN PERSON race calendar essentially no longer exists in the NYC area, running and training look very different right now. While Google can’t help you answer how to run in a global pandemic, some of these considerations may help direct your running goals.
To train or not to train?
First decide whether you want to train for a virtual race, run for fun, or take some time off of running completely. There’s no right or wrong answer here. It’s what works best for you at this time. Make a decision and stick with it for at least three weeks–the amount of time it takes to start building a habit. After three weeks if you decide you don’t like what you picked, or it isn’t working for you, switch to something new!
To Train: Pick a goal. It can be distance, time, weekly mileage, monthly mileage, a virtual race, or maybe running consistent splits. The beauty of running at this time is that your goal can be whatever you want! After you pick a goal, write it down to give yourself some accountability. For double accountability, tell a friend, coach, or teammate and sketch out a plan to get there. If you’re having trouble figuring it out, ask for help! Even the most experienced runners have coaches to guide them through training plans.
Fun Run: Have at it! Try a new route, go for a watchless run… the options are endless. With fun running you can run whatever pace you like for as long as you want! This includes taking a short jog around the block. You can follow a set weekly schedule of run days, or mix it up based on the weather or how you feel. The only firm guideline is to keep your overall weekly mileage and recovery in mind. Even though you aren’t on a formal training plan, these things still matter!
Time Off: More than ok! If you’ve been lining up training cycle after training cycle with no real-time off in between, this is for you! Multiple training cycles with no official race to give 100% effort may make it hard to justify some time off. But don’t worry, you’ve earned it and your body probably needs a little downtime from running. Try a different activity like yoga or biking, or take advantage of this time to focus on strength training to help address weak spots in your running. Address any aches and pains you’ve been ignoring for a while. This is the time to set yourself up for a healthy training cycle when races finally do return.
No matter what you decide, cut yourself some slack. Like the rest of the world, we’re navigating a new environment. We’re experiencing a pandemic we’ve never dealt with before! There is no set plan or guidebook to get us through this time, so it’s even more important to listen to your body and do what works for YOU.