My name’s Matthew Dorber, and I am a Scimitar Ambassador & UKA LiRF (Leader in Running Fitness)/CiRF (Coach in Running Fitness) Certified Running Coach.
Here are my 5 top tips for beating the COVID-19 running blues!
1. Set Different Goals
If you’ve trained for London Marathon and it’s been postponed – keep that as a long term goal. But training for London now is some seriously advanced preparation.
Try and pick some medium and short term goals, no matter how small you think they are. There’s a huge hill up the road from me in Glastonbury called the Tor. I’ve always wanted to be able to run from the bottom to the top. During this time of quarantine, that’s a perfect short term goal for me – I can put hill sprints into my plan twice a week, do some strength work at home and keep using that as a test every couple of weeks to see if I improve.
2. Remember Why You Run
Medals are fantastic, but is it really the main reason you run? On a personal level, as much as I sometimes hate getting out the door, the wonders it does for my mental health even on a bad day are incredible. I go from feeling anxious, frustrated and down to rejuvenated, full of energy and it just gives me a fresh outlook on life. The science is all there to see – exercise is proven to help decrease the symptoms of depression, alleviate anxiety, it’ll even help you sleep better at night.
Remember the things you’ve achieved, the memories you have from running. You’ll find very quickly it goes way beyond that shiny medal.
3. Join An Online Running Community – Even a Run Club!
It might sound silly that during a time of global lockdown you’d join a club, but it might be the motivation you need. Online running communities are huge at the moment; Lonely Goat, The Running Bible particularly.
Why not message your local club on Facebook and say you’d like to join? I’ve been a member of my local running club for a year now and I can honestly say, this past 2-3 weeks I’ve never seen so much togetherness and team spirit in the Facebook group. People ‘virtually’ prodding each other to get out the door and run, sharing their photos and even funny videos – it’s great to be a part of and it makes you want to get involved. As a coach I’m using the group to set up training plans for people, taking questions about goals and setting challenges.
Even Strava, whilst not strictly a club, is brilliant for times like this. Try and get involved with monthly distance challenges, conquer some segments nearby. Maybe even create your own segment from a favourite route!
4. Stick To A Plan
Now more than ever is a time when you want some sort of structure in your running. If you set yourself a goal of running a quicker 5k and just go out and run 2 or 3 times a week with no plan in place, it’ll quickly fall to pieces and you won’t see results. Set yourself designated days for specific workouts – do your long run at the weekend. Make Wednesday the day for specific speed work. Follow a strength routine on Fridays.
There’s plenty of plans available online for anything you want to do, from getting quicker over 5k right up to marathon training. Running coaches (like me!) are also handy in situations like this – the right coach will not only set you a plan based on your goals, but they’ll motivate you, check in on a weekly basis, adapt and adjust. A coach shouldn’t just be there to give you an excel sheet with 4 runs a week on it – you can get that from Google. Motivation and guidance are just as important attributes.
5. Don’t Punish Yourself
This is an unprecedented, at times scary world we’re currently living in. Always remember that running is meant to be fun – don’t let it consume you. If you miss a run one day because you’re spending time video calling family or watching a Netflix party with friends – so what. There’s 7 days in the week and plenty of time to get those miles in.
Rest days are just as important to your body as running itself – when your body recovers from a hard session, it’s repairing your muscles ready for the next one, and making them stronger. Running seven days a week, running hard sessions every day will only increase the risk of injury, and you certainly don’t want a spell on the sidelines right now!
Enjoy running. We’re in a unique situation where we can still do the sport we love, whilst others can’t.