VDOT Coach Leah Rosenfeld shares some useful feedback on staying focused in the age of social distancing.

With so much changing everyday it can be difficult to stay motivated, but I’ve found that routine, community, and play help keep me on track, even when I’m not allowed on one ;).

Staying in a routine is probably the most grounding thing I can think of during this time. This applies to a morning routine when I wake up (core activation and breathing exercises, reading, breakfast, rope stretching, run, etc.), an evening one before bed (Epsom salt bath 2-3x per week, foam rolling, Netflix stand-up comedy, reading, words of gratitude, writing everything down for the next day), and a training routine, which I’ve connected with my coach about.

Even though there’s uncertainty about future track and road races, the Trials, and the Olympics, I understand the importance of continuing to train and simply adjusting the volume and intensity. For the athletes I coach, some want to continue the same training schedule and replace their race with a virtual race, while others plan on running the race course on their own time. Others have had a major shift in work and life schedules, so their training structure is similar but the logistics of workouts are much more simple, intensities have taken a back seat, and their long runs have remained the same or scaled back in volume.

I highly recommend replacing canceled races with virtual races, or creating your own time trial on that day so there are check points and short term focuses along the way as we all wait to see when races resurface.

Also important is maintaining, or creating, a playfulness to running (or any form of exercise). For me, play comes in the form of running with music, running through a field or up a mountain, learning new drills, sprinting, jumping over obstacles, doing a Pilates or dance class (there are so many online right now!!), and simply moving, especially to music. All of these are playful because it’s the act of doing them that’s enjoyable, not the outcome. At this point in time, it might be more fun to just move to play instead of move to train and calculate an outcome. If you need extra motivation to do anything, I highly recommend playing around in any form while listening to music that lifts your spirit or evokes emotion. Side effects often include impromptu dance parties.

With regards to community, stay in touch and connected with people who fill you up, energize you, and have similar goals. In Flagstaff, we have a community running group, Team Run Flagstaff, that cannot meet for practice right now, but thanks to creative people we’ve made a Facebook Group to share workouts, pictures of beautiful places to run outside, funny videos, and we’re working on a collaborative Spotify playlist for members to use during their workouts.

I still try to run with a friend if we run a safe distance apart. I bring my parents along to time workouts, and I watch videos that other runners have posted about what their doing to continue to train (Colleen Quigley has a great 12-minute YouTube video called Bodyweight Glute Workout that I did when I was feeling unmotivated to do extra core). If you’re struggling to run with another person, maybe you can borrow your friend’s dog to run with, or run with your friend on the phone!

If you are in a major rut, ask yourself why are you running and what part of this sport brings you energy, excitement and peace of mind? Maybe if you figure that out you’ll gain the motivation and perspective needed to see this through to the other side :).