Exercise has been a difficult thing to manage since the beginning of the pandemic. With gyms closing and people being asked to stay inside due to lockdowns, it’s much more challenging to get fit and healthy compared to a year ago.
We do – however – have the luxury of home workouts, and the pavement outside is free to use. We are allowed to run a certain distance from the house to remain COVID-safe.
The other issue right now is that it’s the beginning of winter – which means that your exercise outdoors will be cold and freezing, and that can be entirely unmotivating.
The good news is that you don’t need motivation to get out there and run. Running isn’t your favourite exercise, of course, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make it less of a chore and put the focus on your fitness in the spotlight. So, you need to think about how you can make it easier to do in these trying times. Let’s take a look:
#1 Foam Rolling
Running frequently will lead to tight muscles, particularly in the thighs, hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. One of the best things you can do is foam roll over tight muscle groups with a foam roller. This has many benefits such as:
- You can run more freely
- Less muscle pain
- Recover quicker between runs
- Reduce injury
Here are three foam rolling drills that are perfect for runners:
Thigh foam rolling:
IT Band foam rolling:
Hamstring foam rolling:
Spending 1-2 minutes on each of the above exercises will help you before running. You can also do it when your muscles are stiff, i.e., the day after a run. This will speed up your recovery.
P.S. – I also wrote a more in-depth article on foam rolling – please feel free to check it out after this article.
#2 Warm Up With Mobility Work
It’s cold, and the one thing you don’t want to do is move too quickly in that cold. Warm your muscles so that there is no risk of them seizing up. You need to remember that the cold makes it take longer to warm up, and so you should give yourself extra time before you get started.
Just before you go on your next run, it’s wise to do some mobility work to help free up tight muscles and mobilise your joints. Here are two of the best pre-run mobility exercises you can do:
Spiderman walks (20 reps):
Leg Kicks (20 reps each leg):
#3 Put on some feel-good music
Why not invest in some wireless headphones? Then when you go running, you can put on your favourite tracks and get inspired. Whether you like house music, rock, pop, techno, drum and base, or jazz… it’s a great time to combine both exercise and music.
#4 Run With A Friend
If you commit to running with a friend, you will be far more likely to go ahead because your friend is holding you accountable. Why not put 2-3 dates in the diary each week with your friend, family member, or work colleague. You could also join a running club or hire a personal trainer to help you work on endurance strength exercises to boost your running performance.
#5 Stay Hydrated
Water is a must while you run as it is, but just because you sweat less in the winter doesn’t mean that you should stop hydrating. Make-sure to consume at least a pint of water before going on your run. If you are running for longer than 30 minutes, make sure to take a water bottle with you. If you don’t like tap water, then why not try bottled water or flavoured water?
BONUS TIP: If you want to improve your performance even further, then combine your water with a dissolvable electrolyte tablet.
#6 Stay Warm
Dressing for the run is so important if you don’t want to freeze your toes off as you go. Use things like this kitesurfing hoodie to keep yourself wrapped up and warm. You can add extra socks and a weatherproof jacket, too, to keep the cold out. You don’t want to go too thick with your layers, though!
#7 Timing Is Everything
Time your running so that you’re not running in the dark. Daylight hours are shorter in the winter, and it’s far safer to run in daylight hours than at night time. If you want to run in the evening or you don’t have much of a choice, get some reflective gear or a headlamp to run with!
#8 Hats & Gloves On!
It’s cold – it’s winter, so that isn’t a surprise. But you need to dress for the elements. You wear waterproof trousers and jackets in the rain, but hats and gloves will protect you from the biting wind at the same time.
Running should be enough to keep your heart pumping during a lockdown. Get those running shoes on and make a start – it’s the best place to begin!