Imposed self-isolation has changed societies normal routines, from work, to spending weekends socialising with friends, and especially in how we get exercise.

As a result, many of us are using this time to set new goals in order to help us stay motivated whilst at home.

Under the current health guidelines, outdoor exercise is one of the very few activities which allows us to leave our homes, and as a result many of us have adopted the “new year resolution” mentality to start running.

But, for people who do not exercise on a regular basis, the sudden transition to running may be a recipe for overtraining and injury, so with that in mind, here are some pointers on how to start running safely from home. 

Benefits of Running

  • The Runner High – you body releases endorphins to promote positive feelings
  • Weight loss
  • Decrease your risk of developing conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol and certain cancers
How to Start Running Safely from Home

However, all too often we see athletes getting injured from over-training especially in endurance sports such as running (basically people do too much volume and intensity, relative to their body’s physical capacity).

Research in 2015 found that the prevalence of overtraining was estimated to be approximately 30% for non-elite endurance athletes and 60% for elite athletes.

With that in mind, how do you safely start running from home during the COVID-19 lockdown?

Ways to Avoid Injury from Running

1 – Have a Plan

When setting a running goal, set an end date and work backwards.

Volume: If you are able to run 10kms at the moment and want to be able to run a half marathon (21.1km) by the end of June, work out how many weeks you have until June 30th and set achievable increases in your running distances that you can complete each week leading up to 21 kilometres.

A common mistake in recreational runners is turning up to a weekend long-run having not run for years, but thinking that you can do what you were able to do 5 years ago.

Intensity:  Generally, if we want to run fast, we need to expose our body to that speed in order for our bodies to adapt. However, how fast we run relative to our threshold will have different effects on our body.

The faster we run, the more muscle damage we will experience. Therefore, our planning needs to be a juggling act between running faster to provoke an adaptation in our body, and being slow enough so that we are able to follow up sessions with another session the day after.

Many running programs will involve long, slow runs focussed on getting volume into sessions, and shorter interval runs (or tempo runs) focussed on developing speed safely.

2 – Listen to Your Body

During self-isolation, most events have been cancelled which means that there is no rush to peak for an event that will occur months later.

If your body is sore after a session and you do not think you can run at an intensity and distance you set for yourself when planning your program, listen to your body and adjust the program accordingly (decrease the distance or speed, choose another form of aerobic exercise like cycling, or take a rest day).

Programs are designed as a guide in a perfect world scenario. Good coaches are those who are able to manipulate the program on any given day depending on how the athlete feels after a previous session, any stresses they may be experiencing, or any injuries that have set them back from their original goal.

Research shows that oxygen uptake in muscles only decreases by 8% after 4 weeks without training, so pace yourself.

3 -Recovery

Recovery is an action performed after a run to facilitate muscle recovery and bring the body back to its pre-exercise state, ready for the following session.

Recovery is important as it allows us to not only be ready for our next run, but also allows the body to absorb the training we have just completed.

There are many different ways to recover, but here are a few ideas:

  • Nutrition
  • Foam roller and stretching the lower body involved in running
  • Cold water immersion for 10-15mins using the family pool or bath, to increase lymphatic system activity to flush out waste
  • Hydration to replenish fluid loss from sweat
  • Sleep to improve blood flow to your muscles, tissue growth and repair

By adopting the above measures and including them in your running during self-isolation, the chances of injury will decrease and hopefully the chances of you enjoying and continuing running when our lives return to normal will increase.

This Blog

Was written by Precision Athletica Exercise Physiologist and keen runner Justin Trang. If you have any questions for Justin, please email them through to him, alternatively you can also book online consultations with Justin or any of the Precision Athletica team – this could be a great way to get help with your running, without you needing to leave your home!

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