We’re publishing this post whilst half the world is in lockdown due to corona virus. We’re constantly seeing posts online from runners who are finding it hard to run right now. Here’s a reason why and 4 things you can do to help yourself:
FIGHT, FLIGHT OR FREEZE IS HITTING YOU HARD
Everyone is programmed to have a fight, flight or freeze reaction to times of extreme stress. Being chased by a sabre-tooth tiger? Run like crazy. Volcano erupting? Run like hell. This response is a flood of hormones that gets your body prepared for action but it takes its toll on your body. For every fight/flight reaction you face your body needs a minimum of 20 minutes of respite to completely calm down and recover.
The Corona Virus (as with many other modern day stresses) is a long term stress, but unlike the usual day-to-day stresses you’ve learnt to deal with using stress-relieving activities (such as running), CORVID-19 is a perpetual erupting volcano that never goes away and just keeps erupting. Spikes of anxiety are hitting you day-after-day, hour-after-hour as the great unknown just keeps delivering huge worries. This type of fear floods your system with fight or flight hormones regularly throughout the day and night and has a huge impact on your physiological self. You are exhausted because your body is regularly fighting an invisible out-of-control foe and so is it any wonder your runs aren’t going so well? Even if you feel your brain is coping with the peaks and troughs of the pandemic your body still feels each little spike so it simply cannot muster up an 8 minute mile for you.
SO WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP? 4 SIMPLE THINGS TO TAKE NOTE:
1. Every run, no matter how slow, will help curb the stress
The physical process of moving forward in itself tells your body you’re doing something positive. Any sort of running or physical exercise releases endorphins and helps to motivate ourselves and feel better. In fact the name ‘endorphins means ‘internal morphine’ – our very own happy drug.
2. Slow your heart rate and calm the mind
Now maybe the time to practice the principles of 80/20 running – most top athletes now train using this rule*. You do 80% of your workouts at a very low heart-rate and 20% at a high rate to get the most out of your training. If you can’t physically run fast right now, actually see this time as a positive training plan to run at a low heart rate and improve your performance overall. You may come back fitter and faster at the end of this
3. Set smaller goals
Many runners are used to training for races – they have set plans and a set focus. Without this they’re finding it hard to know what to run or how to run. Setting smaller, more manageable goals may help. Work on the principles of how many miles you will run in a week or a month. Sign up for some smaller virtual races that will keep you active and feel like you’ve achieved. You’ll excuse the shameless plug for our own virtual races that help you achieve more than just a medal and instead turn the miles you run into trees to be planted. It’s something we believe in more than ever now – focusing on doing something positive with your running.
4. Remember this too shall pass
There are ups and downs in all of our running careers – we’ve all had good and bad days and weeks. We’ve all been injured and we’ve recovered. This time will pass too and we will, once again, run without a care in the world. Be gentle on yourself when you’re struggling with a run – it doesn’t shape the next one. It’s a run, it’s breathing in the open air and no matter how bad a run it is, we’re the lucky ones. Smile to yourself and run for those that can’t. You’ve got this.
Happy miles to you all.