This is the second blog in the series of Running Indoors during Covid -19. Click here to read the opinion by Alfredo Miranda. As Covid-19 pandemic grips the world deeper and wider, India who had already put the nation on a 21 day lockdown, further extended the nation wide ‘quarantine mode’ to May 3rd, 2020. Most Runners have already started running indoors – living rooms, lobbies, home to lift lobby – covering distances of 21kms and more on 30-40 metres loops inside the house! Though most others still stand on the fence! If social distancing has to be practiced, then staying put is the only answer. If you cannot live without running ( like me), then let’s hear out some wise men and women talk about their ideas, concerns and wisdom over Indoor running.
Opining here is Ash, and of the view that running outdoors is actually wiser.
At the start, let’s park aside the legal angle and discuss this topic on sheer merits of the case. Appreciate that the human body was designed to “move”, that mobility is a very intrinsic physical and psychological need for our well being.
Presently, the large majority have chosen to adopt the “stay indoors, its safer” approach, resorting to a mix of exercises including running indoors, in their balcony or on the terrace to maintain their fitness. And, sadly some are taking this too far, exposing themselves to lowered immunity that is a strict “no no”.
Their key argument, that I am not disputing, is “spacing” and the possibility of carrying back the virus having stepped on sputum. Both of these are manageable concerns and there is the huge upside to being outdoors in a largely pristine environment, at present.
Let me elaborate
a. Running outdoors is actually less unhealthy than going out to buy essentials.When you step outside for essentials you find a quiet, clean and very much less populated outdoors greeting you. Most people are stepping out at some time across their day without the realization that they are entering a closed environment (grocery or chemist etc), placing themselves in close confines with other customers, and walking a well trodden path where the likelihood of stepping on sputum is far higher than when running on lonelier open stretches.
b. Running outdoors has psychological benefits that you can’t experience indoors. A typical run can be broken into feeling uncomfortable as your body warms to the task, to discovering your “zone” and finally the fatigue phase as energy tapers off. It is the “zone” phase which makes running enjoyable, and worth the while. Take it away and running is simply a process towards an objective, and likely a short lived endeavor.
The “zone” requires the critical aspect of “quietening the mind”, a state where we are unconscious of our surroundings and become one with the universe. It is aided by running in more open spaces, with nature and simply being happy. Conditions that are met nowadays as mother nature has cleansed itself. Running indoors simply doesn’t satisfy any of these aspects as the athlete needs to be mindful of their surroundings, constantly switching gears (body parts) and very watchful of the (slow) clock.
If your society has mandated staying indoors then you have no choice but to comply though its worth checking if recourse to the stairs, the car-park, basement or the terrace is an option. These allow a much wider selection of workouts than indoors alone.
Caveat. Besides ensuring the (easy enough) discipline of distancing if running outdoors, to be disciplined in wearing the same running shoes across all runs, keeping them clean and safely stored away from other gear, possibly in a box when not in use. But remind yourself that the foot is the furthest part from the face and not overthink this aspect of bringing back sputum too much.
At worst, if staying indoors is the only option, by diktat or choice, then I suggest (besides skipping) to consider “spot jogging”. Preferably in the balcony and done in short sets interspersed with a jog through the house followed by fueling before back to spot jogging. And, during the spot jogging phase to keep the eyes on a fixed spot to elicit some extent of “the zone”, before taking the break. This is better than constant jogging through the house with its frequent, and awkward, turns and an overly activate mind.
Whether indoors or outdoors, of huge importance is “moderation”.
Ensure the workout intensity & duration are modest as studies have shown that the week post a marathon that runners are six times more likely to catch a cough-cold and other illness as immunity levels are lowered. An hour is smart, of relaxed running, with some strides thrown in.
Finally, if following some online indoor sessions, to ensure that your “assessment” is done to arrive at what muscle groups and joints are strong – weak and therein clarity on what needs to be worked upon, and to what extent. In a “one size fits all” program, everyone does the same routine (ie. working same muscle groups & reps) with the result that any existing muscle imbalances will only get accentuated. The costly price for this is paid in the near future.
To summarise, do remember the “objective is spacing” and the dictated strategy is to stay indoors. Unwise for reasons shared as most are missing the forest for the trees.
Ashok Nath, popularly known as Ash, is the “lighthouse” for our amateur running space who commands respect for his running performances, his depth of knowledge and his fluent running style. If you have heard the phrase “poetry in motion” then that is Ash when you observe his running style.
He is a 11-time consecutive Boston Qualifier, a regular winner at the Mumbai Marathon and ADHM veteran category besides at most other domestic races.
To return back to the sport he loves, Ash founded Catalyst Sports which operates in the running knowledge space. It undertakes annual Mentoring engagements on a very personalized basis and contributes articles on running & fitness on request basis.
Have you checked out some more Covid-19 and Running Related Articles on wellthyfit.com that you would like to read!