Minute 1: Coronavirus is fueling a back-to-basics boom in recreational running
While YouTube is chronicling folks brawling in supermarkets for toilet paper, millions more people are channeling their pent-up energy into a back-to-basics running boom. Gyms are shut and group exercise is a Corona no-no. That has caused many a Soul Cycling mom or treadmill trotter to seek some old-fashioned outdoor exercise. The New York Times chronicles “A Back-To-Basics Exercise Boom” while Sports Illustrated writes that “running is the escape we are all turning to amid our new reality of quarantines and social-distancing.” Industry trade group Running USA tells race directors to “Get Ready for the Third Running Boom.” The first wave hit during the deep recession of the ‘70s and the second wave built upon the economic downturn of 2008. Economic stress, it seems, is bad for Wall Street, but good for road races. We are still waiting for Strava to chronicle this new boom, but the running mecca of Boulder is dealing with overcrowded trails and all of Colorado is experiencing record vehicles in trailhead parking lots.
As long as you’ve got a pair of shoes and at least six feet of clearance on all sides, you’re free to run to your heart’s content with few restrictions. Having said that, larger group runs should be avoided for the time being. Running with Miles offers some tips for runners striking out on their own to keep it interesting. To keep it interesting, they recommend virtual races, mixing in some fartlek interval work, and podcasts. FWIW, we are also fans of solo runs sans headphones to really clear the mind. #ShortTreadmillStocks
Minute 2: Bargains are good for the running community
“Closed for Corona” has been posted on virtually every brick-and-mortar store in the land. That’s terrible news for these businesses, but good news for online shoppers. JackRabbit has big sales, including up to 50% off select footwear and a deal of the week that offers 40% off most Nike shoes. Outdoor retailer Backcountry also has big sales on apparel and gear, including top brands like Patagonia, Arc-teryx, The North Face and Sorel. It’s also worth noting that many local running specialty stores - like Marathon Sports here in Boston - are offering curbside pickup. If you are fortunate enough to have some financial stability right now, it’s an important time to support the folks who produce local races, organize group runs, and provide steep gear discounts to high school XC runners. This list is about a year old, but it includes many of our favorites: The 20 Best Running Shops in America. #RunLocal
Minute 3: Here’s how to avoid stress eating while stuck inside
We’re confined to our homes, worried about the health of our loved ones, and stressed about our jobs. For many of us, those ingredients form a recipe for the new version of the “Freshman 15” -- a COVID-19 weight gain. Food is a familiar source of calm for many Americans. A study by the American Psychological Association estimated that over a quarter of the country engages in stress eating for comfort. A certain level of stress eating to ease our minds is fine in these unprecedented times, but going too far could actually make you feel worse and even weaken your immune system. Eating too many processed foods and sugary snacks leads to increased body inflammation that only intensifies feelings of anxiety.
We can combat our desires to stress eat, according to the Washington Post, by understanding how it works. It’s usually a mindless process, like reaching into a bag of chips or sleeve of Oreos for a quick dopamine hit. The best way to curb mindless eating is to stick to your normal routine and do your best to be mindful of food choices. Think to yourself, “Do I really need this snack for nutrition, or am I just feeling stressed out?” If you’re actually just stressed, use that moment to try something more productive and healthier like exercising, meditating or checking in with friends. Since there are limited chances to hit the grocery store for more snacks, make it a point to only buy a small supply of “feel-good” sweet or salty snacks. Instead, consider these 20 Healthy Foods to Add to Your Coronavirus Grocery List. #AddKilometersNotCalories
Minute 4: Free fitness apps are filling the void of shuttered gyms
Coronavirus may have shut down your favorite gym or yoga studio, but that doesn’t mean you’re stuck sitting on the couch for the next month (or, gulp, longer). Dozens of apps and fitness websites are offering free workouts and virtual training sessions to make sure we’re all staying active while we do our best to flatten the curve. Yoga lovers can try out Adriene Mishler’s YouTube videos completely free of charge or take a look through Downward Dog Yoga’s complete library of hundreds of yoga, barre or HIIT videos for free until April 1. Sweat app, the top women’s fitness app in the world, has a free seven-day trial of its workout videos that are roughly 30 minutes and feature dumbbell work and other exercises. Fitness studios like Orangetheory and Pure Barre are also expanding their streaming services with their physical presence limited. Studio SWEAT OnDemand has also partnered up with the YMCA to offer virtual gym memberships and will waive their standard setup fees. For runners and cyclists, Peloton has extended its free trial to 90 days. Peloton’s workout videos for spin bikes and treadmills can be used by anyone, whether or not they have the company’s equipment. If the kids need to burn off excess energy, Sworkit typically charges $9.99 per month, but their kid’s exercise videos are free. #JaneFondaWasRight
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
Regular readers know that we have been fans of Outside magazine for many years. We began our love affair during the heyday of U.S. magazine publishing when ad sales seemed effortless and thick print issues hit the newsstands every month. We still loved them in the meltdown of the magazine industry over the past decade, although our trysts moved from physical encounters to the online variety. Outside nonetheless remained a trusted companion for advice on all of our outdoor passions: running, cycling, hiking, skiing, gear and travel. The magazine has won more awards than any of its peers and helped launch writers like Jon Krakauer, Annie Proulx and Sebastian Junger. We received an email this week from their publisher with a cry for help. Given the miserable business climate, Outside is stranded in the backcountry and the rescue chopper is miles away. We just did our small part to keep this great source of inspiration alive by hitting the subscribe button. Thanks to a new promotion, you can get a one-year print subscription, two print gear guides, and full digital access to content for only $12. Yup, a buck a month. We don’t get paid anything for sending traffic their way. Just the satisfaction of helping out an old friend.
We could all use a little extra shot of happiness in these challenging pandemic days. In an effort to lift all of us out of our collective, cooped-up funk, Yale University is offering its most popular class ever online at no cost. The Science of Well-Being will be available on Coursera and will give students the opportunity to learn at their own pace and implement practices to ease anxiety and boost happiness with minimal pressure. If this sounds like something you could use, sign up here.
We haven’t seen this level of “nesting” in our house since the days before the birth of our first child. With mom, dad and kids all working/studying from home, we have launched lots of long-procrastinated home clean-up tasks. The basement has been de-cluttered, bedroom desks were cleared, and our tiny home gym space has been repainted and cleaned. The thought occurred to us that we may not be alone in this instinctual behavior. If you need inspiration, check out these 21 home projects to tackle while you’re hunkered down or these 11 simple home projects to bang out during quarantine.