Becoming a responsible runner

How to run responsibly, according to a GoodGym trainer

April 09, 2020

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As the lockdown looks set to continue, Laura Williams, our trainer in Tower Hamlets, who also holds a Level 3 Sports Conditioning certificate, asks whether we need to reassess our running.

So you’re allowed to run. Yes, as we approach the most beautiful time of year, along with its flurry of Bank Holidays, the rules are relatively relaxed - you can still pound the pavement, tackle the tarmac, enjoy the great outdoors.

When it comes to running, the rules aren’t that bad: let’s look at the government rules for what you CAN do.

  • You can leave your house once a day to exercise.

  • You can use the park.

What you can’t do

  • You cannot use communal spaces within parks such as outdoor gym equipment.

  • You cannot meet anyone outside of your household to exercise.

What you need to do differently - You need to stay 2m apart from anyone outside your household at all times (not sure what 2m looks like? It’s half a parking space or two regular outdoor benches).

  • You need to minimise the time you spend out of your house.

  • You need to avoid travelling anywhere to exercise. (*Check GoodGym’s daily tweet at 9.30am for up-to-date government running guidance.)

  • Remember to wash your hands when you are back.

So let’s look at this. In theory you could stick to your normal routine, stay on track for whatever you’re training for, and you’re technically adhering to the rules.

But life at the moment is about us all making sacrifices, to varying degrees, to preserve life.

Can we look then at how we can incorporate some great GoodGym conscientiousness into our outdoor fitness?

  • Select routes and parks which you know to be less crowded. Yes, that tufty, frazzled patch of ‘green’ space near your home may be less picturesque than the blossom-filled park but it’s also less crowded. Could you take that scenery hit, just for today, for humanity?

  • Run at less busy times. The chances are, an early morning sweat slot is going to be less popular than a 9am one. Or a lunchtime one. As is a late evening one. What d’you reckon? Could you bring that early morning alarm forward, just an hour? Free up the street for someone who may need that peak pavement time a bit more?

  • Ask yourself whether you need to really run outside today. This is the biggie. Yes, you’re allowed. No, you’re not doing anything wrong by taking your allocated outdoor time. But here’s the thing: the chances are you ditched single-use plastic a long time ago. The water bottle you glug from mid-session is a reusable one. So you already subscribe to the sustainable sweat movement. Then could you, on occasion, do the same with your runs right now? Could you do your bit, when you feel able, to minimise your tarmac time, to keep our streets and green spaces as free and least congested for those who need them the most? For those whose mental and physical health may rely on heading outside at least once a day. For those who don’t have the resources, including the exercise know-how, to stay inside for a decent workout today. This is the question that needs posing in the wee hours.

And what will help you achieve this?

  • Don’t try to replicate your usual fitness routine. You don’t need to match lockdown mileage with normal mileage. In fact, there’s a very good case for keeping both mileage and intensity moderate: you want to minimise your chance of picking up an injury at the moment. Your access to resources will be more restricted if you pick up an injury (understatement): physio and doctor consultations will be remote; gyms aren’t open for your cardio Plan Bs… Go easy, take time out, don’t hesitate to enjoy a walk/jog rather than your usual hill sprints.

  • Take all your running data with a pinch of salt. By that, I mean give up comparing your Strava stats. So what if your peer group are pounding more pavements than you. Good luck to them. Now is not the time to be pursuing PBs.

  • Use online running communities for genuine support. Pick your peers’ brains for the greatest home fitness routines; scour threads for the best adductor stretches. Use this time to play catch-up on all those fitness components you usually neglect.

  • Don’t lose sight of the fact that this IS short term. You won’t be asked to pause for thought when lacing up your trainers forever. Life as you know it will return.

So what d’you reckon? Can we dig deep here, and do what we do best: help out while we workout?

Laura Williams is a qualified personal trainer and holds an NCFE Level 2 Mental Health Awareness certificate. She is our Tower Hamlets trainer, and you can follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

Have your own GoodGym story to share with the community? Email and we'll be in touch.
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