Running In Uncertain Times (The COVID-19 Update)

Running In Uncertain Times (The COVID-19 Update)

This morning thousands of runners across the world woke up to the realisation that the running landscape is uncertain and setting goals for races needs to be put on the back burner, for now.


Many have had races they’ve prepped for months, pulled from under them at the last minute. 


The list is extensive and it continues to grow daily. The London Marathon, Boston, Paris, Rome, Barcelona are just a few of the bigger races that have been affected.


Closer to home, The Two Oceans, Cape Epic and Ironman South Africa have either been cancelled or postponed.


As that list continues to grow, so does the speculation around whether the Comrades Marathon will go ahead or not.


 If you’re reading this, we’re all in the same boat...


...While this is gut wrenching, particularly for those that are juggling family, work and making huge weekend sacrifices, we are facing an unprecedented threat to our population and we must all make sacrifices to look after each other.


Is your running cup half full or half empty?


In times of major disappointment we must always first focus on the positives, this list will be long:

  • You made it through an entire training programme
  • You are stronger than you’ve ever been before
  • You’ve learnt how to manage your work, family, training
  • You know what works for you and have a few ideas on how to improve on this
  • You are fit, strong and healthy (and able to run)
  • You’ve probably made new friends and plugged into a new community
  • You are motivated and still have a score to settle.


For me personally, the difficult part is not knowing what or where the next target is. 

A race I’ve been training for, The London Marathon was postponed to early October so that gives me a marker, but what is going to keep us going in the short term?


On my Sunday long run (yes, I still went out) I struggled with the motivation to do the planned 20 miles but I didn’t struggle to get out the door. 


I took the pressure off and ran a very easy 28km, realising that I don’t run for the races. I run because I love to run. 


Sure, the races are great and I enjoy testing myself over all sorts of distances. 


In times like these remember why we run...


But the reality is that running has beauty in the flow. The thoughts that flitter through, the escape into your own space, on your own terms.


It is important that, even in these uncertain times, we still do that.


Looking forward to the next 8 weeks, I am filled with anxiety about where this will end. 


Brad, my business partner and friend, shared something with me last week that his late Mom used to say to him: 


“Everything will be ok in the end. If things aren’t ok it's not the end”


So, in the short term, running needs to be our shield and the place we go to nourish ourselves. 


By getting out there and doing what we love, we stay prepared, we stay ready, so that when the opportunities present themselves we can go out there and test ourselves again.

Of course, these times do mean that we need to be responsible and practice what we love safely. 


We’ve put together a few pointers of how to keep fit and look after yourself.


4 Tips to keep you running safely through this COVID-19 outbreak


The first thing I want to encourage you to do is to keep running. That does however look different, depending on where in the world you live.


If you're in South Africa, like I am, or anywhere else in the world that Is not allowing people to run freely due to a stringent lockdown, then other training options need to be considered. (Like our home-based lockdown training for example)


There is lots of literature that points to the fact that moderate exercise boosts the immune system so it is in your best interest to keep on running. 


There is also plenty of research that shows that hard training can cause a dip in your immune system so you do want to curb those really hard training sessions in the coming 4-8 weeks.


The second thing you want to focus on is your nutrition. Diet will also play an important role, you want to eat colourful veg and fruit, added vitamin C, but the most important aspect here is to eat fresh and give your body lots of nourishment.


The COVID-19 Virus is particularly virulent. It passes from person to person very easily and quickly, so the most important way to protect yourself is to be careful in your interactions with others. 


So, if you are able to run outdoors, the advice around running in groups is much the same as common sense interactions with other humans in your community. 


The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that during this pandemic we practise social distancing so the best form of this is to run on your own. 


If you aren’t able to run on your own for any reason, then make sure your running groups are small. Don’t run too close together, stick to 2m (6 feet).


Make sure you wash your hands regularly and carry a small hand sanitiser with you to wash your hands if you stop to drink water or go through security barriers for example.


No hand shaking and if you have any symptoms – sore throat, tight chest, cough, sneezing, head cold – avoid running, get tested and quarantine if needed.



When you return from your run, get out of your running clothes, have a good wash in the shower and dress warm. This will help reducing the virus load if you have picked anything up and importantly sitting around in wet cold clothing is not good for the immune system.


Times like these are also a great opportunity to work on our weaknesses. Strength training is an area we can all improve on.


During this outbreak I wouldn’t recommend going to the gym to do your strength and conditioning work, but following a strength training plan like this one is a great way to work on building strength.


As disappointed as you may be, the races we love running will still be there in the future. We need to make sure to take care of each other at times like these. 


Stay strong on the road and trails (or treadmill) and remember everything will be ok in the end. If things aren’t ok, so it’s not the end.

Do you want to shave 10 minutes off your marathon PB?

You can run faster with our FREE running strength training programme that you can do once a week, at home and with no expensive gym equipment needed.


Included in the programme:

 Detailed descriptions of each exercise so you know how to do them

 Number of repetitions for each exercise so that you avoid overtraining & injury

 Short videos showing you EXACTLY what to do (Number 6 will turn you into the "Marathon Slayer" so that you don't hit the wall and implode later in the race)

What are you training for?

Simply click on any of the images below to access our running training programmes.

Faster Beyond 50
The Coach Parry Training Club
Running Through Menopause
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