There’s no better time to start or continue a positive habit then when times are tough, stress levels are high, and oh, perhaps you’re in a pandemic-induced social distancing situation. Gone are the typical distractions: work travel, dining out, movies, social gatherings, sporting events, and after-hours work commitments, to name a few! Take advantage of the current lack of distractions and commitments, and continue running, or start running for stress relief.
Some great reasons to keep or start running for stress relief, especially NOW:
- Running is an amazing stress reliever, clears your head like nothing else can.
- As little as 30 minutes of brisk activity boosts immunity to keep viruses at bay.
- A physical activity during a stressful time is a POSITIVE move, one that gives you a sense of control in uncertain times.
- Gyms and swimming pools are mostly inaccessible!
- Fewer distractions/commitments help you stick to your plan!
- Besides all that’s above: here’s a list of compelling benefits of running.
Several very recent articles confirm that exercising outside is permissible and within bounds of even the strictest mandates (as in New York and California). “As long as you’re going to a non-crowded place … at this point, I would encourage people to do that,” said Dr. Saad Omer, the director of the Yale Institute for Global Health and a professor of infectious diseases at the Yale School of Medicine. “Social distancing doesn’t mean nature distancing. Go out, as long as you have distance.”
Important tips to keep yourself safe (and others) as you head out the door:
- Avoid crowded routes, and remember not only does the early bird catch the worm, they find their routes and trails less crowded.
- As you approach others, give yourself and them the 6′ of space. Slow down, weave around, etc.
- Remember good habits while you’re running (run/walk) to be considerate of others. Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze by using the inside of your elbow. A tissue is even better!
- Wash your hands when you’re done running. If not at home, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol (keep it in your car).
- Avoid touching surfaces (benches, banisters, stop light buttons). Use your elbow for stop light button.
Related Topic!: How To Start Running – 8 Tips to Start & Continue
For those interested, a virtual 5K plan is below, as a race (virtual or not), is a major motivator. BUT, even if that’s not in your plan, and your sole intent is to start a new, positive habit of running (or run/walk) for stress relief, use the following strategy below. But, remember this: “Every able-bodied person can be a runner,” says Gordon Bakoulis, a running coach based in New York City. “Just start slowly and build up gradually.”
- Run three times per week for approx 15-20 minutes at an exertion level you can sustain (a 6 on a 1-10 scale).
- Space a rest day between each run if possible.
- If the 15-20 minutes is comprised of run/walk intervals, that works! Example: run for three minutes with a one minute walk.
- Only increase the time running by ~10% each week.
Virtual 5K Plan
Often times, a race on your calendar is a motivator to stick to your running plan. Yet, most races are canceled for the next few months, but you can certainly do your very own VIRTUAL race.
- Pick a date you’ll run “your race.” Put it on your calendar, in your phone, etc.
- Print the 5K plan below (most common distance for new runners) and stick it somewhere prominent as a reminder.
- Think of the location you’ll run your race, and even practice on that route.
- Treat yourself to a “race day” treat once you complete your event.
- Invite friends to run their virtual race the same day, and share your experience, even if remotely.
Related Topic!: Eight Critical Mistakes to Avoid for the Beginner RunnerBeginner-Runner-Virtual-5K
Running for Stress Relief – Training Plan Details
- 8 week 5K training plan. If you currently can run (run/walk) a mile, eight weeks is a very reasonable time frame to ensure you’re ready. The weekly increases are gradual to minimize risk of injury. Yes, you can compress the schedule, but again, the eight weeks gives better odds of you staying healthy, and strong.
- Pace is not primary concern. Plenty of time for that later. When running, it should be at a conversational pace, meaning you can say a full sentence without gasping. It is okay, actually great, to try run/walk intervals!
- Flexibility. The schedule can be modified, of course. You don’t need to stick with these set days. Typically, you want a rest day between your runs initially. This plan assumes you have more time on the weekend, but if your schedule is different, simply alter to fit your needs.
- Rest days are important! Skipping rest sets you up for increased injury risk, burn-out, etc. It also allows your body to repair and strengthen itself between workouts. This is especially important if you are new to a running training plan. You’re adding a stress load your to which your body must adapt, alas – rest days!
- It’s okay if you miss some runs! The more consistent you are, however, the better. Here’s an article to help with your consistency when you’re struggling to stay motivated.
Several articles for new runners (or returning runners) are in this section here for more tips and information: Running Glow Beginner Runner Tool Kit.