Keeping yourself challenged in isolation

run challenge covid

The biggest challenge facing runners right now is the lack of races on the horizon, the lack of social interaction with run groups and an overall lack of motivation being felt with our COVID-19 isolation.

Now obviously there are bigger issues at hand at the moment and no runner would suggest that their lack of mojo is more important than reducing the spread of COVID-19. But any aspect of routine and normality that you can introduce during isolation can help maintain your mental well-being and that’s critical now more than ever.

So here are our suggestions on how to maintain your motivation, reclaim your mojo and train with purpose.

Goal setting

Each training block of 3 weeks should have a goal. This goal can be related to performance or it can be focused on efficiency and quality.

Performance goals might be running your favourite 5k loop in the new PB. It might be ticking off 6 x 1 k reps with all reps under 4 minutes. Or you might choose the goal of running 8 km without taking a walking break. Obviously your performance goal needs to be targeted to the level you’re at. It needs to be somewhat achievable but it should push you a little bit as well. Remember it doesn’t matter if you miss this goal – there’s always next month!

A quality or efficiency-based goal might be something like completing a 5k loop in 25 minutes with a lower average heart rate than your previous attempt. It might be about running 10k in 1 hour without the usual next-day calf soreness. These goals are about becoming a better runner rather than just a faster runner. And without a race on the horizon, there’s never been a better time to work on your running quality.

Training blocks

Over the 3 week block, set yourself mini goals each week to keep you on track. A mini goal might be running your 5k target pace for 3k or maintaining that low heart rate at a set pace for half the time of your overall goal.

The block duration of 3 weeks has been carefully chosen for two reasons. Firstly, three weeks is a very manageable chunk without the end goal being too distant to keep you motivated. Secondly, after your 3-week block is done, you get a week of easy carefree ‘running for the love of running’ while you recover and dream up your next challenge.

You can keep yourself honest and socially motivated by involving others in your challenge. But ensure everyone in the group has individual goals and you’re not all targeting the same outcome. It may be that everyone is targeting a 5km time but your goal time needs to be a challenge for you. A common time for everyone to target may be too easy for some and almost impossible for others.

Challenge yourself in bite-size chunks and stay motivated – you’ll be race ready as soon as this COVID-19 thing is over.