Training

During COVID-19, should your running be covert?

Mar 18, 2020

Runner with face mask

Well… some of it. Only because it’s for your own safety and the safety of those you come into contact with.

Before the President’s address, a bunch of races were already cancelled or postponed. Some runners were supposed to be in Tokyo and Paris, others had local goals like Two Oceans, Irene Ultra and Loskop Ultra. After the President’s address all gatherings of 100 people or more are prohibited, so no more races until after Easter and quite possibly longer. At the moment, it’s touch and go.

So what’s the plan? Some runners are left without a goal (Two Oceans) and some are left with uncertainty about theirs (Comrades Marathon). For those who have no goal, the suggestion is sit down in a quiet place (you will have a lot of that now) and think about what the possibilities ahead offer. Think about moving your goal to the next edition of your goal race in the following year and then adjust your training accordingly. In any case your training needs to change. If you are training for Comrades, there is no certainty yet on whether it’s a go and another review will take place with a decision by 17 April. For now, keep the current course and continue training.

For all the runners training for races other than Comrades and Two Oceans, these are not insignificant either. Keep up the training and when all is back to normal you will be in a good space to achieve your goals, even if those goals needs to be shifted to a later date.

During this time reflect on why you run, what you feel when you’re out there on the road, trail or track. Remember why you love running so much and then get out there and run.

So what can you do to stay safe during training in this uncertain time? Here are some suggestions:

Rather outside than inside

It is best to train outside so, for obvious reasons, running is a great choice. However, as many runners are becoming aware, strength training is also important for improving your running. So what to do about going to the gym?

If you opt to go to the gym, then choose one of the gyms that are going above and beyond to make sure their equipment is sanitised. Rather do a prescribed workout instead of a class where you would be in a closed room with other people. Always make sure the equipment (weights, elastics, mats etc.) is sanitised before and after you use it. Keep 2m away from other gym patrons. Wear gloves if you can and wash your hands thoroughly after your session.

Of course, training outside or in your own home is the best option and you can still do numerous strength exercises without the use of gym equipment. Check out strength conditioning for stabilisation, strength conditioning for posture and 5 key lower body exercises.

Everything in moderation

Keep your training in the moderate to light threshold for the time being. Very intense and hard training sessions and training lasting longer than 1 hr 30 can drop your immune system. If you need to train hard or long then shield yourself after training from chances of infection.

Make the circle smaller

When training in groups keep the following guidelines – No touching, no shaking hands, keep 2m away from each other at all times, keep snot rockets and spitting out of the mix unless you’re alone and don’t train when you are sick or have a higher risk of contracting illness.

Food for thought

Take care of your nutrition, give your body what it needs to build a strong immune system. Eat healthy, nutritious foods and add things such as garlic, ginger, honey and turmeric to your meals which are all good for boosting your immune system. Bolster your diet with a quick acting supplement such as vitamin C.

Hygiene

This should be a no-brainer by now. Wash your hands regularly with soap and sanitiser. Keep a small sanitiser with you during runs in case you need to disinfect for any reason. Don’t touch your face (this is tougher than it sounds).

Much of the current situation is out of our hands and out of the hands of the race organisers as well. In the meantime, all we can do is keep training in a manner that looks after ourselves and our fellow runners.

Clinton Hunter


Coach Clint is a qualified running coach based in Johannesburg. He trains athletes of all levels from complete beginners to top athletes in disciplines from track athletics to ultra running on road and trail. He is also passionate about Running form & Posture, training the mind,  functional and sport conditioning and fitness training. Read more about Coach Clint here

More articles