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Train, don't strain during the lockdown

As we slip inexorably into a fourth week of Coronavirus lockdown – during which, for many of us, the days of the week have become Oneday, Today, Yesterday, Thisday, Thatday, Anotherday and Someday – resident coach and runABC contributor Alan Newman reviews the situation.

We have all learnt new terminology and skills during the global pandemic. 'Social-distancing' is a key element of the strategy to slow down and ultimately defeat this invisible foe. The 'lockdown' is the blunt tool necessary to keep us from, unwittingly, either becoming infected or infecting others. But exactly how locked down are we?

We are allowed to leave the house for: “one form of exercise a day...alone or with members of our household”, according to Government and Public Health advice, now reinforced by the Coronavirus Act 2020. Guidance has been issued to prevent all but essential travel and suggesting exercise should last no more than an hour and be close to home. So no driving to your favourite beauty spot for your daily constitutional.

Compare these restrictions with the situation in Paris, where runners must be alone, within 1km of home and only train for an hour, once a day. On Wednesday 8 April, running in Paris was banned between 10:00am and 7:00pm. Not surprisingly, there are many tales emerging from France of balcony marathons and treadmill ultras!

We asked Coach Alan to list his top five tips for making the most of our precious daily run, while staying safe and well:

Don't Touch It: We tend to touch our faces more than 250 times a day. The eyes, nose and mouth are all potential viral gateways. Wearing running gloves may provide some protection and will act as visual reminders not to touch your face on the run. You can always use your elbow to operate push buttons at crossings – it's impossible to lick your elbow (try it)!

No Snot Rockets: Inveterate spitters and snot rocketeers must modify their behaviour. The back of a glove can be used (discreetly) as a nose wipe or use tissue and dispose in a litter bin or take it home. Consider wearing a buff or light scarf as a face covering in busy areas.

Prepare To Slalom: Runners can be threatening to other path users. Anticipate this and give others a wide berth. The few extra yards won't hurt and the weaving is great for improving proprioception. Try not to follow any other runners closely. Speed up and pass or drop back.

Run With Purpose: Make every run count. Try to ensure you cover the basics each week. One longer, steady run; one or two 'quality' runs; one or two recovery runs is a good start. Keep it sub-maximal to fire up the immune system; avoid 'eyeballs out' sessions as the stress hormone cortisol that is produced will suppress your immune function for a few days.

Enjoy Every Minute: Most importantly, enjoy the physical act of running and the privilege we have to continue our activity. Accept that, for the foreseeable future, there will be limitations imposed and there is nothing we can do to change that. However, there is also nothing wrong with looking forward to better days ahead, so take stock and make positive plans for the future.

Image courtesy Chanan Greenblatt on Unsplash

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