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Lone runner

Run safely, stay strong

Since Boris Johnson ordered the Coronavirus lockdown on Monday 23 March we have become a United Kingdom of runners! There was a lot of interest in runABC's article on 'socially responsible running' last week and now we take a closer look with resident coach Alan Newman at safety on the run, as we all struggle to adapt to the new normal.

At this time of heightened sensitivities and perfectly valid health concerns, we all have a responsibility to safeguard ourselves and others, while we are taking our daily exercise. The simple pleasure of getting out of the home for a run in the fresh air has been discovered by thousands of new runners, leading to unexpected problems.

The point of social distancing is to prevent the spread of a deadly virus. But if popular spots become crowded with runners and other people taking exercise, tensions can arise. In Avon Crescent, Bristol, residents have spray-painted a two-metre wide runner's lane in a popular one-way street to keep runners off a busy pavement.

The rule to follow is quite simple: maintain at least 2 metres distance between others, at all times and in all directions.

It seems we runners need to quickly learn new skills in spacial awareness and anticipation to avoid incurring the wrath of fellow exercisers, who are moving at a completely different pace.

Police have new powers – Coronavirus Act 2020 – to deal with gatherings of people and local authorities are taking measures such as closing some parks and open spaces, reducing access to regular routes for some runners. These new powers will take time to get used to on all sides and have already led to some well-publicised incidents. The rule remains: leave home for one form of exercise a day, alone or with members of your own household.

Questions that frequently arise are how hard to train; how far to run; how long to be out. Alan's advice is to reduce both quantity and intensity to ensure we positively stimulate the immune system and do not suppress immune function by over-training. We are all familiar with the typical post-marathon sniffles, partly due to the extreme effort required that causes a chink to appear in our anti-viral armour – the last thing we want in the current circumstances.

Alan says: “Training should be sub-maximal, with the emphasis on running style, pace-judgement and enjoyment. Runs should be between 30-60 minutes duration (less if that is your norm) and contain elements of speed play, without becoming intense interval training. Celebrate the freedom of being able to run, while showing due consideration to others”.

Run safely, stay strong and we'll come through this together.

Image courtesy Jenny Hill

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