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Handling cancellations, boredom, and boosting your immunity

Minute 1: What should you do when your spring race is cancelled?

Millions of Americans spent their winters trudging through cold and dark training runs. Their reward was supposed to have been running spring marathons and road races with lots of hard-earned miles in the VO2 bank. With most of the spring race dates torn from the calendar, runners are left to ponder: Now what? We like this list of 5 strategies for dealing with race cancellations or postponements. The list includes good advice on shifting goals and using the base you’ve developed for other endeavors. One way to use your current fitness is to dive into a virtual run. Many races have already made the switch to virtual, but if you’re looking for more options, consider checking out the Run Free Grand Prix, where you can compete with a team, the Quarantine Backyard Ultra, which encourages runners to log into Zoom and race on their treadmills, like one club in Tennessee, whose members managed to keep their 10-year meeting streak alive, or the Dirt Run Co. Isolation Run, offering distances ranging from a half marathon to a 50K. Another variation of the virtual run is a Strava challenge. Current offerings there include a challenge to run a total of 100 miles in April or the April Workout Challenge to complete 3 days of activity per week for 4 weeks.

If you want to measure your overall fitness against the general adult population, you may want to check out these two tests. The Mayo Clinic offers an 8-step fitness test that includes metrics like body measurement ratios, a 1.5-mile run, and push-ups to see where you stand. Runner’s World offers up a DIY Fitness Test That Will Tell You What Kind of Shape You’re In that includes tests like planks and hamstring flexibility. For those who grew up with gym teachers clad in gray sweats, you may want to see how you stack up today against the standards of the old school Presidential Physical Fitness standards. Boys test is here and girls test is here. Most of the exams we’ve mentioned are quarantine-friendly and require very little equipment. #MakingLemonade

Minute 2: What’s safer, staying home or heading into the backcountry?

Controversy continues to swirl as stir crazy quarantiners flock to green space in record numbers. Several national parks are experiencing huge waves of crowds: Joshua Tree National Park in California was swamped with traffic, while Point Reyes National Seashore was forced to close multiple entrances due to unprecedented demand. The Sierra Club, normally pom pom wavers for backcountry pursuits, just published a compelling piece urging caution and restraint. They quote a local outdoorswoman from Whitefish, Montana, near Glacier National Park saying: “While I imagine going into the wilderness is a decent way to create social distancing, it needs to be done strategically and thoughtfully. Explore your own backyard instead of infecting mine.” Hmmm. We’ve all seen “locals only” attitude run amok, but she has a point regarding people traveling long distances to hit the woods. We’re witnessing increased foot traffic on our local suburban trails, but these folks aren’t crossing state lines and stopping in crowded rest areas to get to the trailhead. Part of the confusion arose when the National Parks Service decided a little over a week ago to waive entrance fees at all parks. Several of the park system’s crown jewels have been forced to close due to the rampant crowds, but fear not, Google has teamed up with the NPS to offer virtual tours that you can experience right from your treadmill or stationery bike without becoming a potential super spreader of the coronavirus. #OnlyYouCanPreventVirusFlareups

Minute 3: Boredom-busting media options

Last week we shared a list of our Top 6 Running Books as selected by our talented and good-looking staff. Gear Patrol, a respected outdoor equipment site just came in over the top with their list of 27 Books All Athletes Should Read. Touche. Some of our favorite non-running titles made the Gear Patrol list like Boys in the Boat and Shoe Dog.  Both lists are missing an excellent read: Kicksology: The Hype, Science, Culture & Cool of Running Shoes by Brian Metzler. The book explores and explains how some of the most iconic shoes of all time were designed and brought to market. If you’re looking to expand your bookshelf (or Kindle) beyond sports, the NYT surveyed 20 authors for book recommendations during quarantine. If you’re looking for podcasts to accompany you on socially-distant solo walks and runs – or couch potato video binges – the Times offers provocative ideas in “What to Watch Read and Listen To During the Coronavirus Self-Quarantine.” #BrainFuel

Minute 4: Training and eating right can boost your immunity

Frustration and extra time may tempt some athletes to go a little overboard on training this spring. That strategy may be just the opposite of what the doctor has ordered. Consider that training very hard in marginal weather has been shown to increase human susceptibility to contracting a virus.  Exercise physiologist David Nieman advises runners to follow his 60/60/60 rule: 60 miles a week or less, 60 minutes a day or less, and remaining below 60% of VO2 max. Nieman’s research has shown that runners breaking this rule are at greater risk of getting sick than runners who log fewer miles per week. Similarly, marathoners are 6X more likely to contract a respiratory illness immediately following their race than the general population. On the other hand, moderate exercise increases an athlete’s resistance to infection. Outside magazine surveyed experts on this topic and describes a 3-step plan to boost immunity and to strike the proper balance between working out and wearing down.  #TrainDon’tStrain

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • Ultrarunner David Kilgore dreamed up a unique, and some might even say crazy, way to support healthcare workers during the coronavirus pandemic. The Florida native and ON Running-sponsored athlete decided to do what he does best – run, really, really far. Kilgore ran 100 miles in 17 hours, 47 minutes and 47 seconds. He blew way past his goal of raising $10,000 and is still accepting donations. We love his business plan: 1. Raise money; 2. Support local running shops in NYC by buying gift cards; and 3. Donate those cards to New York healthcare workers. CNN video is here.

  • American shoe company New Balance is stitching together a solution to produce necessary supplies for doctors and nurses working on the frontlines to battle the Coronavirus. New Balance is in the process of re-purposing its Lawrence, MA factory to make facemasks and hopes to expand its operation to the rest of its New England factories. 

  • Jeric Yeun, a 35-year-old runner from London is maintaining his sanity by using his GPS to trace pictures of different animals all over the city streets. Also in London, James Page decided to run an entire marathon in his backyard, covering nearly 900 laps around his garden and breaking a ceremonial toilet paper tape at the finish. His wife’s not too happy about the destroyed grass, but may be even more upset about the wasted TP.

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

While we appreciate the gravity of the Coronavirus, we also appreciate the value of a good laugh on the path to recovery. Most of the Corona memes polluting the internet aren’t worth the turds on a Buffalo nickel. But the two videos below brought rare smiles to our faces. The first is a quarantined woman observing a runner (topical), while the second is not germane to endurance sports whatsoever (but the little girl’s reaction to finding out her favorite food options are shut down is priceless!).


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