We’re in challenging times.

It’s something of a catchphrase for Spring 2020 (open-ended of course)!

For us runners though it’s not so easy to pop a catch-all catchphrase on to how the lock down is affecting us and our individual and collective psyches’.

To start with the one link so many of us share with each other, the wonderfully connected world of social media, including of course our map of activities done, records broken and collective endeavours completed with friends is now ever so slightly different.

It kinda makes you wonder what we used to use it for doesn’t it? I mean if it’s so vital now we’re socially distanced, what were we doing when we ran together?

I suspect what has actually happened and will I hope be one of the solid outcomes post-C19, is that we will know the true value of social media connection, rather than denigrate those who share, we can connect with a shared understanding of the true value of being social online.

Of course, this isn’t the only impact on runners.

Unfortunately with so many races cancelled or postponed for many it is a period of despondency combined with a feeling that the very warp and weft of what we previously took for granted is now unwoven in front of us.

So what can we realistically do?

How can we take what we’ve been given and make it into something a little more palatable?

In my world, as a professional running coach and someone who organises running holidays, I see many runners looking for alternatives to focus on.

I always want to know your outcome

I always start any conversation with my running clients the same way. I want to know what they want to get out of coaching. And I suggest this is a really good starting point for us runners now.

Instead of focusing on what we don’t have, no race, no idea when we can run with our friends again, we look to understand what we want given these new variables exist.

I know that for some this is an unhappy time, but understanding what you can achieve here (and believe me it’s a great deal) can lift you, and your runnning to a new level.

Ideas time

Let’s start with what I’d say to you if you’d chosen me as your coach.

  • What is your outcome? So that race you were aiming for – was your outcome just to run it? Or did you have a pace target in mind? If you did, how can you get to that place now and be ready for the time when the race is re-listed?
  • Consider where you feel there are places you can improve your running
  • Speed – sometimes when we run with others our speed is actually artificially high, and we would benefit personally from slowing down and building a strong base of slower mileage. This is the time to solidify your new pace in your body (it takes 3 to 4 weeks to re-set your body and mind to a slower pace – use the time you have to do this, see 4 below for a huge reason why you should)
  • Slow down! Please! over 95% of the runners I’ve coached and taken on running holidays have run either at high intensity or mid intensity. I did it too. It’s usual. But – it is sabotaging your progress as a runner, if you want to get faster it’s holding you back and if you’re happy with your current speed it’s likely to lead you to feeling fatigued and ultimately increase your likelihood of getting injured. If you slow down you WILL get faster, you WILL reduce your injury risk and you WILL see incredible improvements in your running (for less effort)! It’s not often in life we can get results like that.
  • Fake it. Arrange what us coaches call a simulator race. If you are already in a training period use your existing fitness and hold a simulator race just for you. Treat it like a real race, carb load, work out your nutrition/hydration plan, give thought to your tactics and strategy.
  • Get ready. Races will be listed again. We know that will happen, for those of you who have a postponed event like Manchester or London marathons, your training should be starting now. You have the added advantage of time, especially if you had started late over winter. Summer training for marathons and a probable cooler race day may give you a personal advantage, and let’s be honest, it might not happen again!
  • Get a professional opinion. I coach runners online, with weekly be-spoke plans. I do all the work to build you a plan suited to you, I will work with you to achieve your goals and with my experience of running and winning races plus my coaching knowledge you will unquestionably have an advantage over everyone else on the start line.

The most important thing to realise is that feelings of negativity around the current situation (from a runners perspective) can originate because our concrete goals seem to have been taken away, along with our support and/or social network at exactly the same time. It’s a double punch and it’s difficult to understand what the best thing to do is, especially when the people who are like us, are saying the same things – and therefore validating what we already think.

But hopefully what I’ve suggested above gives a new viewpoint, one where we celebrate every single victory, every single run, every single step back towards normality. If we all dedicate oursleves to pushing back the negative, and restoring the positive vision of the future now, we can create it and force out all the bad news.

Keep it positive everyone, and I’ll see you running soon!

Best Wishes, Geoff