With stay-at-home orders and social distancing still in place to help combat the global pandemic we’re all facing, runners may be missing the motivation and camaraderie that comes with group training and running with friends.
While group meetings are not physically possible right now – and we don’t know how long it will last – it is important to stay connected with each other for our physical and mental well-being.
Here are four ways runners can connect and engage with fellow runners and maintain their training:
Social distancing doesn’t mean you have to train alone. Trainers remain connected to their clients with phone or video taking their training sessions to Zoom, Skype, FaceTime and other virtual means.
“Connecting is more than just a call or text message; it is the feeling when one knows another individual is engaged and cares about what you do,” says MCMO Deputy Director and avid runner Angela Anderson. “It is encouraging when I get my e-newsletter with tips and a special motivational message just for me from her.”
Anderson also shares that her trainer connects directly to her Garmin to see all her runs, splits and strength training workouts as a way to hold her accountable, as well as hosts Zoom group sessions so everyone can discuss their running and racing accomplishments and their struggles.
“The folks in my training group come from all sorts of life with different fitness levels but we are all here for each other and encourage each other not to give up,” said Anderson. “My belief is that many people will come out of this in much better shape than we were prior to COVID-19.”
Most running groups have a Facebook page or group for runners to share goals and accomplishments, training updates and motivation. It’s a community of like-minded people talking all things running and reminding you that you’re not alone.
The Marine Corps Marathon & 10K Club is 16,000+ strong with runners who have completed one or more event organized by the Marine Corps Marathon Organization (MCMO). Posts range from personal and heartfelt to funny and therapeutic. Members support each other with helpful tips and resourceful links, celebrate everyone’s wins with Medal Monday posts and even host weekly games like Scavenger Hunt. And group activity has definitely increased since the coronavirus as runners rely more and more on the Facebook community.
“I think the virtual MCMO events have created some camaraderie because everyone is posting their results and medal pictures within the group,” said Bailey Burke, one of the admins for the Marine Corps Marathon & 10K Club. “Just being able to virtually cheer each other on has been great, even outside of posting race results.”
Some groups and trainers have taken it a step further by using live videos to connect with runners and expand their services to a wider audience. Fitness trainers and running coaches have been using Facebook and Instagram Live to share warm-up and cool-down routines, strength training exercises and stretching or yoga sequences with followers. They’re also using the platform as a way to share helpful tips, introduce runners to other experts and just keep everyone entertained and motivated.
Veronica Gutierrez, MCMO staff member and avid runner, frequently goes live during her long runs. It’s her way of connecting with other runners in the same boat, have some sense of human interaction she’s missing from her usual group runs and ultimately hold herself accountable.
“I share my runs because it gives me some sense of normalcy, helps me hold myself accountable and it provides some of my runner friends with the motivation they need as they struggle to figure out how to continue their training,” says Gutierrez.
There are numerous workout and running apps out there to keep people connected – from sharing routes and routines to customizing training plans. MCM partners with Runcoach to provide runners with an online training program that features real coaches to guide runners of various levels every step of the way. The program also includes injury prevention and nutrition tips; daily or weekly email messages to runners with their workout for the day; and weekly check-in with trainers. A version of Runcoach is free for all registered MCM participants. A gold upgrade package with additional coaching services is also available.
Until we can get back to our regular group runs and face-to-face training sessions, get creative and find ways to safely recreate the experience while remaining physically distant. There’s still time to register to run Historic Half Weekend events virtually and share the experience with friends and family no matter where you run by downloading the free audio experience.