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PART ONE

 

Resilience, Responsibility and Running in the Eye of a Pandemic

Did anyone see this coming? It's like the whole world has been hit by a catastrophic storm, all at the same time. As runners, we're used to being proactive, to getting out there and making things happen, but in a storm as in a pandemic, the best and only thing you can do is stay put, stay safe and wait for it all to pass.

All that said, life continues, and in some shape or form, running continues too. Tracksmith reached out to our global community to see how they are coping with this strange new world, and how they continue to stay active and maintain their health.

This photo and lead photo - Phil Gale

Emmie Collinge & Phil Gale

—Valtellina, Northern Italy
(one valley to the north of the cities with the worst outbreaks)

Are you still running?

No. Although, it’s more complex than a simple ‘no’. We’re cross-training in a bid to maintain fitness and stay sane, but officially have to limit our time outside. There’s the thought of a 3-month jail penalty if you break the rules… 

With the uncertainty of racing, how has this affected your training?

Dip in motivation in the sense of things that are less focused. But on the upside it’s nice to be in a base/winter/cross training period as the weather is getting better. The feeling of progression that you get from structured sessions will be welcomed when it is possible. 

What is your game plan for the coming weeks and months? 

Try to retain a semblance of normality, try to boost each other’s morale, use Zwift to stay on top of fitness, and hopefully come out stronger, fitter, faster on the other side. It seems like we could be in for the long haul so pacing ourselves is key. Maybe doing the bulk of cardio on a static bike is a good thing? The frustration is focused at riding and not running. We mix in drills in the house (sorry to our downstairs neighbour), core and stretching too, to add a bit of volume.  

What are your favorite home workouts? 

Athletes for Yoga and the District Vision Mindful Athlete podcast. As well as some drills videos from Timo Limo on youtube. It’s all a bit DIY but gives us a feeling that we’re doing something productive. 

Are you working from home?  

As freelancers we work from home usually anyway, however, we’re no longer travelling as much as we used to (ca. 250 days on the road last year). This is a little tricky to come to terms with, as we’re only used to brief stints at home.  

Has it drastically affected your day-to-day? 

Yes – the measures in Italy are very strict and the inability to go outside is really troubling. Plus with the numbers in our region being so high and the average age of our village, we are very aware of our responsibility to the community. To be honest, this fear is much more of a deterrent than the police. We know most of the village by name so it would be devastating to think we’d had an impact and something we’d not want to live with. There’s a feeling of dread when we need to go out for groceries, which is tough to deal with–the fear of bringing it back here makes it very, very real. 

What has been the biggest challenge for you? 

Probably the uncertainty. As runners we know our targets, we set schedules and have timelines to work to. With this current situation everything is in limbo. It is heartbreaking to see so closely the impact that this crisis is having on Italy. But the sense that all our efforts help everyone in the community gives a positive feeling. We’ve both been pretty adaptable to the changes, but there is a common feeling with us both that the head space you get from running is what we miss the most, and what we’re probably find most hard to come to terms with. I don’t know if having a treadmill would even help with that.

Do you have any tips to stay on task or keep yourself on routine?

Getting up early is probably our biggest routine focus. It would be too easy to while away the evening, sleep late and then try to catch up all day. We focus on getting sport done first, then adding a second session later in the day, so that we can sit down to other tasks with a clear head and a sense of achievement. 

When you're not working, what are you doing to stay busy?

Books - just read Godspeed – Casey Legler (Emmie) and loved it. Design as Art – Bruno Munari for inspiration. If I can’t take pictures, then I can at least look at cool stuff. Same with Ways of Seeing – John Berger. W're also re-reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula aloud each evening, it makes you sleep like a baby. 

Final thoughts? 

As runners it’s hard for us to lose something that is so integral to our routine and even to how we identify ourselves. But we can safely say that there are things that are much bigger than it at the moment. To everyone; try to stay home, think of others who you could cause suffering to. Yes, run if you can, but at times when you see the least amount of people. Embrace running for the simple act that it is; like all sports it gets us to question ourselves, and in these times it could be easy to question why you’re doing what you are. But if we all embrace the act of movement for its own sake, we can all come out of this stronger. And lastly - STAY THE F**K HOME!  

PS. There's plenty of toilet paper in Italy

David Melly

—Brighton, MA

Did you have a spring race that got cancelled? 

Yes, BAA 5k and others

What is your game plan for the coming weeks and months?

Get fit; worry about the schedule later. Use this time to rebuild your training and your body. You now have the time to try something new, improve your strength work and injury prevention, and take care of all the "little things." Embrace the art of training; try to be the best runner you can be every day and take one day at a time.

Are you doing any at-home exercise routines? If so, please share your favorite:

Anything on the Recover Athletics app!

Other running related advice/wisdom:

If this whole mess has taught us anything, it's that the things we take for granted can disappear in the blink of an eye. Running is such a gift to us, whether it's the mental benefit of getting out of the house, the social benefit of interacting with people, or the physical benefits that training brings. Training can seem like such a grind sometimes and running can feel like work, but with so much being uncertain, whether in your personal life or in our community overall, every single day you get to go out and run is a gift. 

Are you working from home? Has it drastically affected your day-to-day? 

Yes Honestly, more flexibility in running time is nice, but other than that it's been frustrating and stressful to have to work from home. My job is flexible in some senses but technologically we are not set up for remote work and it's been annoying to feel hamstrung in everything you do. And I really miss interacting with people - I'm a super extroverted, social person and social distancing is antithetical to my lifestyle and the things that make me happy. I know it's the right thing to do but it definitely doesn't help my mood or wellbeing at all.

Do you have any tips to stay on task or keep yourself on routine?

Do one thing at a time - multitasking is a myth! And don't beat yourself up when things have to be adjusted or don't go according to plan - nothing will play out exactly how you want it in the coming weeks and we're all just doing the best we can. Hang in there! And stay in touch with people you know and love any way you can, even if it's just to check in, say hi, send a funny meme, etc.

 

 

Joe Bolio

—Mexico City

Did you have a spring race that got cancelled? 

Yes, Boston Marathon

What is your game plan for the coming weeks and months? 

I am optimistic things will come back to normal. I am still training, alone.

What are some tips/advice you have for staying on track with your training and racing goals?

Talk a lot with your runner friends, start challenges on Strava or Garmin. Do lots of stretching. 

What has been the biggest challenge for you?

Food. That's my biggest challenge. Keep the goal on sight!

Please share your favorite books/movies/recipes/podcasts:

Any book but for example one for these moments is Factfulness from Hans Rosling. Everything will be alright with patience and faith!

 

 

Mimi Albert

—Palo Alto, CA

Did you have a spring race that got cancelled? 

Yes, Boston Marathon 

What is your game plan for the coming weeks and months? 

Mileage is the same. Won’t be doing 20+ mile long runs. May also vary the workouts. Focusing a lot on strength. 

What are some tips/advice you have for staying on track with your training and racing goals?

Go back to your why. Remember why you started running in the first place. Use this time to take care of your body and do the little things: strength training, foam rolling, etc.

Are you working from home? Has it drastically affected your day-to-day?

Yes I feel useless and like I’m not contributing in a meaningful way. I’m trying to practice self compassion and using this time to focus on the work we will need to do when this is over.

What has been the biggest challenge for you?

Dealing with my own relevance at work. 

Final thoughts? 

This is an amazing opportunity for the running community to come together. I’d love to figure out how we can connect virtually - through Strava, Zoom, etc. How can we have weekly check-ins as a community?

"I am using this as a time to simply enjoy running"

Kaley Mientkiewicz

—Somerville, MA

Did you have a spring race that got cancelled? 

Yea, Boston :/

What is your game plan for the coming weeks and months? 

Motivation has been weird... I'm taking a few days off of running to get life sorted out, but then I'm planning on jumping back into training. We'll see what that looks like as we go. But with working from home on a computer all day, getting outside and moving is soooo important to physical and mental health that running isn't optional in my mind! 

Other running related advice/wisdom: 

If you were planning on running Boston, just think of the morale boosting that this race has had for our city in the past! September 14, 2020 will be absolutely unforgettable and likely a huge boost for our city once this is all under control. 

What has been the biggest challenge for you?

Not watching too much of the news. Staying educated is important, but saturating myself with too much news is overwhelming. 

 

 

Nick Lemon

—Jamaica Plain, MA

Did you have a spring race that got cancelled? 

Yes Boston Marathon

What is your game plan for the coming weeks and months? 

I’m shifting the focus from prepping for Boston to building a stronger base. After a back injury set back my training and cause my buildup for Boston to be rushed, I’m now taking this as an opportunity to continue a healthy base build for the first ever (and only hopefully) fall Boston Marathon. I am also using this as a time to simply enjoy running. Without anything big on the schedule for the foreseeable future it is nice to hop out for runs and not feel the pressure of “I need to get X out of this run or I won’t be ready on race day”.

Are you doing any at-home exercise routines? 

I’m continuing to follow my at home core routine (planks, crunches, pushups, etc.), along with some smaller general strength exercises such at theraband work. 

Are you working from home? Has it drastically affected your day-to-day?

Yes, and I'm still keeping the same routine as best as I can. But I’ve gained some extra time in my day that I plan to use toward getting more sleep, eating a little better, and doing the little things in training that I didn’t have the time to do before. I personally can’t say I have felt much of what I would call a challenge. Perhaps not high-fiving Pat Cunningham after a long tempo effort the other day. Gotta keep your hands to yourself! 

Do you have any tips to stay on task or keep yourself on routine?

Set an alarm to tell you to go to bed. It’s easy to stay up later than normal when you don’t have that morning commute to worry about.  

Final thoughts?

Running isn’t going anywhere. The community we’ve all built is still here, and soon enough we will all be meeting up for large group runs, early morning workouts, and those goal races we’ve been training for. 

Daniel Marrett

—Vancouver, BC

What is your game plan for the coming weeks and months?

Stay healthy and log as many miles as I can, while being socially responsible. So I'm not doing speed or track workouts but I will start doing core/home workouts, which I never do. 

What are some tips/advice you have for staying on track with your training and racing goals?

Balance your training and racing goals with what's best for the world. This is a time when we all need to be selfless, we all need to compromise. F* the PRs. 

How have you been dealing with the change? Has it drastically affected your day-to-day?

From a business standpoint, it's completely different. I was working from home before this happened, now I have my wife and toddler at home too, which is both nice and definitely counter-productive. 

Do you have any tips to stay on task or keep yourself on routine? 

Block time, have sprints of productivity. With kids at home, more going on, you're not going to have the same "office" experience as when you were at work. My wife and I have a split schedule so we take turns entertaining toddler and SPRINT when she is napping. 

 

 

Keira D'Amato

—Richmond, Virginia

Did you have a spring race that got cancelled? 

YES! World Half Marathon Championships, Monument Ave 10k, Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile... to start...  

What is your game plan for the coming weeks and months?

It hasn't played a role in my training yet other than my weekly Pilates classes being cancelled (I'll find one online). My plan moving forward was to train my butt off towards the U.S. Olympic Trials 10k... 

What are some tips/advice you have for staying on track with your training and racing goals?

When everything around the world feels so out of control, take control of your training. I find that brings me a lot of peace and creates somewhat of a normality in this situation which is anything but. Having minimal social life is actually the perfect combination to getting after your workouts and runs. The special thing about running is it can play a different role in your life at different periods. If it becomes too stressful to train towards a race in these uncertain times, use it for an outlet or an excuse to tackle a pan of brownies. Mold running to fit in your life the way it can make the biggest difference on your well-being.

Are you working from home? Has it drastically affected your day-to-day?

Yes Kids all day, work all night and balancing work and running with little childcare. Hold yourself to a similar routine as you would in normal times - routine can relieve stress by taking the decision making process out of mundane choices.

"Pomodoro technique is super useful for me. It's like interval training for work tasks: 25mins of concentrated effort with 5mins of recovery."

 

 

Andy Waterman

—London, UK

Did you have a spring race that got cancelled? 

Yes, London Marathon.

What is your game plan for the coming weeks and months?

I was injured anyway (hips are old and stiff, nothing serious, just annoying) and struggling to keep going. This has given me the chance to step back, take stock and get strong and healthy before I start training again seriously again when this all blows over. I'm going to drop my mileage, keep my heart rate down (I don't want to go hard and compromise my immune system), do some trail running and focus on a core and mobility routine to get me running pain free. The absence of structure is an opportunity. Go and run in the forest. Go and explore. Take a camera and enjoy the scenery. If all you do is run 8min/miles for a month but that keeps you healthy and motivated, you'll be in a great position when things begin to return to normal.

Are you doing any at-home exercise routines?

Yes, I've been doing kettlebell swings, single leg squats, single leg Romanian deadlifts, side planks with a dip, Copenhagen side plank (the best for adductors), Buglarian split squats, 90/90 stretches/mobility drill. Like I said, old man hips...

What has been the biggest challenge for you?

Grocery shopping! People have lost their minds. I couldn't even buy eggs today.

Do you have any tips to stay on task or keep yourself on routine?

Pomodoro technique is super useful for me. It's like interval training for work tasks: 25mins of concentrated effort (phone off, web off), with 5mins recovery. If you can do 8 of those in a day, along with a couple of meetings, you've had a productive day.

Caroline Bauer

—Baltimore, MD

Did you have a spring race that got cancelled? 

Yes - the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler 

What is your game plan for the coming weeks and months?

Personally, I feel very fortunate, I am coming off of the Olympic Trials so I got to run my big winter/spring race.  In some ways, doubling back and running Cherry Blossom wasn't the smartest idea but I was doing it as part of our women's racing team. The cancellation gives me some time to continue to ease back into things.

What are some tips/advice you have for staying on track with your training and racing goals? 

Sit down and make some goals that you can achieve alone.  Maybe it's to run a sub-7 min mile on the track or maybe it's to achieve that one really hard workout (10x1 mile is a good one).  Create your own 5K course in your neighborhood and run it, hard.  Keep it as FUN as you can. Write down a training plan and stick to you. Maybe share with friends virtually and everyone creates a workout. Before you know it, you will be in PRIME shape for hot, summer races. 

This will pass but in the meantime, do you due diligence.  Be kind.  Be understanding when events are cancelled.  But keep running, you will not regret it! 

What has been the biggest challenge for you?

I'm still working as a health care provider and fortunately have a nanny so we haven't had any major changes in our life.  The biggest effect is having my 5 year old not at school and trying to create structure and encourage learning. Write down your plans, stay accountable, check things off when you accomplish them Cooking/meal prepping, playing with my kids "Cooking anything from Run Fast, Eat Slow!

Please share your favorite books/movies/recipes/podcasts:

I have a 5 year old so having Disney+ put out Frozen 2, 3 months early, was a welcome gesture. I also have a 14 month old so I can't read anything without falling asleep but the Fast Women newsletter every Monday is one of my weekly highlights.

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