In 2020, the vast majority of foot races in Quebec were cancelled. The situation is improving, but nothing is sure yet for the 2021 races. The question you might ask yourself is, “Can I go for a run or a jog during one of the many COVID lockdowns?” The answer is yes!
But as races disappear from the calendar and running during a lockdown presents some challenges, many runners lose their goals and, therefore, their training motivation. However, to make running progress during confinement, it is essential to gradually increase the amount of time spent running per week to be consistent in your practice.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have managed to run more than I ever ran before. I finished 2020 with more than 3000 km on my counter, and 2021 is starting well: I have run more than 1300 km. This regularity has allowed me to make good progress. For example, in September 2019, I ran the Montreal half-marathon in 1h26mn. I reran this distance in early May 2021 in 1h25mn!
And now I'll tell you how I stayed motivated to run every day despite the lockdown.
1 - Make a running program adapted to the COVID lockdown
Following a training plan helps a lot. It can be hard to get motivated to run regularly without realizing "WHY" you do it.
Having a lockdown running plan over several weeks helps visualize your goal and makes each run more meaningful. For example, if I start following a 12-week program to improve my 10K time, each run will be a small step toward that goal. In addition to the direct positive effects associated with each run, I'll have the satisfaction that I'm getting closer to my goal.
There are many free running plans for all goals. The Running Clinic has some great ones.
2 - Start by running in the morning
Each day brings its surprises. If you want to be sure to find time to run, start your day with a short run, and nothing will come between you and your goal.
Running in the morning, outdoors, while being locked down or not, is the best way to wake up and start the day! The body is slowly activated and prepared for an efficient day.
This is also point #4 of the article, which talks about the 5 mistakes I made when training for my first ultra trail.
3 - Set yourself running challenges
In addition to a training plan, I have punctuated the last year with different challenges to keep me motivated. For example, running 100km in one week, climbing the equivalent of Mont-Blanc in one outing (see my article on Everesting), covering the distance between Montreal and Vancouver with my colleagues in one month, running every day for 10 days... In short, you can imagine all sorts of challenges to keep you motivated.
It's essential to set a start date and an end date to help you accomplish them. When you set yourself a challenge, try to be ambitious while remaining realistic!
I remind you that the leading cause of running injury (in confinement or not) is increasing the running volume too quickly.
4 - Track your progress
Keep track of your runs.
Whether on an app or in a notebook in writing, tracking your progress is a highly motivating factor.
The body is a super machine made for running. If you start running regularly, you will notice positive results after a few weeks.
Keeping track of your errands will allow you to quantify that progress and boost your motivation!
5 - Run to move around town
Running during lockdown is an excellent way to make your errands worthwhile while jogging around! It's a great way to get more running miles during your confinement, and it gets you from point A to point B for free and without traffic. So when COVID restrictions were less strict and I could get back to the office, I ran every day - and I loved it!
Just make sure you have a shower at your destination.
6 - Listen to podcasts
Let’s not lie to ourselves; there are mornings when we don't want to get out of bed and put on our shoes.
I have a list of podcasts on my phone that I look forward to listening to. So, when I lack motivation to go out for a run, I tell myself I'll listen to a podcast. Then, I adjust my pace, go slow and focus on the audio content.
After a few minutes, I'm so glad to be out!
If your body doesn't feel like going for a run, focus on something else... while running!
7 - Meet up with friends for a run
Despite the pandemic, it's probably okay for you to run with friends, even if you’re in a lockdown. Meeting up with friends and running in a group is a great way to ensure you don't miss your workout!
Also, scheduling a recurring date each week is a great way to diversify your training and socialize! Other outdoor activities are also possible during the COVID lockdowns, be creative!
8 - Follow athletes on Instagram and Strava
If you're on social media, I suggest following your favourite athletes or most active friends. Following their routines will help you get ideas on how to train during confinement, make you want to be more active, and give you workout ideas.
Most of the challenges I set for myself this year were inspired by athletes I follow on Strava!
9 - Make a list of the errands you would like to do
The races will be back soon! Make a list of the races you want to do most, and continue to practice during COVID lockdown. This way, you’ll be able to get started way faster once the situation allows!
10 - Move to feel good!
Finally, if none of this works for you and doesn't help motivate you, tell yourself that moving around a little every day is a beautiful gift you are giving yourself!
Regular physical activity has many benefits for your physical and mental health. And even more so in COVID-19 pandemic lockdown!
In a peculiar time when we are forced to limit our social interactions and restrict our physical travel, it is crucial to keep moving, alone or with friends!
Running during lockdown remains one of the best ways for me to stay physically and psychologically healthy.