Weekly training sessions during times of social distancing
Is running still important in these times?
If you are feeling like me you might have noticed a drop in motivation to train. I, like many, was booked into a spring marathon and when that was cancelled the initial frustration soon turned to apathy. Why train when there’s nothing obvious to train for? We don’t know when we will be able to run competitively in the company of others again.
But there’s another side to this reduced motivation to train. A crisis, especially on the scale of the current pandemic, gives us perspective. Us runners can get a little obsessive about our running and training. We look for and train hard for the small gains in fitness and running ability that can help us run faster and farther. But, perhaps, we take for granted the very fact that we can run at all. We lose sight of the freedom, independence and basic rewards that running provides. Now, those factors are brought sharply into focus. Running takes on a new meaning. What does it matter that we can run 10k in 40 or 60 minutes or complete a marathon when so many people are losing the battle to stay alive? The common goal for us all is now to do whatever we can to help those in need.
So why these weekly sessions?
Running in these times provides us with a way to keep basically fit, to escape the news, the despair, to clear the head, and just going out for a jog and walk is often enough.
These are not for everyone. Some runners will be content to simply get out of the door and grab some fresh air, to recharge the mental batteries. Others might stop running altogether: no goal, no focus, no motivation. Some might not be permitted to leave the house for exercise. Some runners will be keen to keep their fitness up and keep training at a relatively high level.
So these sessions are for anyone who feels they will benefit from some guidance and structure to help keep them running.
How hard are these sessions?
Let’s be honest, for most people around the world, there is no need to be in peak form at the moment. There is no need to be training really hard. Indeed, there are widely accepted reasons to keep training moderate and this applies to both distance and intensity. Exercise (running included) is very good for maintaining a healthy immune system. But, exhaustion is not necessarily so helpful.
Therefore, these sessions are moderate. Although they will be harder than simply going out for an easy jog, they won’t tear you down, and you should do what you can do at a manageable level. They will, however, develop and maintain your running fitness, depending on what level you are at.
How and where should I do these running sessions?
These sessions are flexible, you can run them on the road, trail, over the hills or through the woods, even on a treadmill. So the choice is yours, at least within the confines of your government’s stipulations.
Ideally, run them on the same day; structure and routine are very beneficial to our mental health during these times of unpredictability and change.
Strength and conditioning
This is a great time to be working on strengthening our body. We have already seen a huge increase in the availability of home-training services and videos so there are plenty of resources out there. Developing a strong and efficient runner’s body will help us come out of this situation in better shape than when we went in.
Each weekly session will include a running-related exercise, drill or routine; sometimes it might create the main focus of the session.
These sessions will be published on Tuesdays. You can do them whenever they suit you. But do try and keep them to the same day each week; as mentioned, a routine will help us retain some sense of normality.
Any questions, leave a comment. Also, let us and others know how you are getting on. How are you overcoming some of the unique challenges facing you now? Your suggestions will help others overcome their own obstacles.
Warm up with 5-10 minutes of gentle jogging.
There are 2 paces or effort intensities for this session:
- 5k pace
This is a pace at which you can talk, but you probably would not want to be holding a conversation.
- easy pace
This is a very easy recovery pace.
1 set is:
- Run 1 minute at 5k pace
- Run 1 minute at an easy pace
Run 8-12 sets depending on your ability (16-24 minutes total).
Cool down with 5-10 minutes of easy running.
One exercise today, this will help you to develop strength in the glutes (buttock muscles) and strong coordination and balance; vital elements of efficient running.
It’s important to get form correct, so only do as many as you can do properly. If you cannot do one good one, then just get as far as you can and build from that. Aim for 5 each leg. when that becomes manageable, then go for 2x 5 each leg.