How Runners Stay in Shape During Self-Isolation

How Runners Stay in Shape During Self-Isolation

Runners around the world face the disappointment of postponed and cancelled races due to COVID-19. Some question whether it’s even safe to go outside for their beloved activity. But whether you’re a seasoned marathoner or a new jogger, there are ways to use the recommendations to shelter in place to your advantage. Here’s how runners can stay in shape during self-isolation and while practicing social distancing.

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If you’re running outside:

runners self isolation - running with mask

As long as you don’t have any COVID-19 symptoms, it’s safe to run alone or with someone who lives with you in most areas, according to the recommendations from the Road Runners Club of America.

1. Safety Comes First

Follow these tips to stay safe:

  • If you run with a partner or housemate, run in a single-file line, recommends runner Lou Serafini, an Olympic Trials marathon qualifier. Do not run with anyone who doesn’t live with you.
  • Take your own water (don’t use public water fountains). And don’t blow snot rockets or spit. You could potentially hit someone or a surface that others touch, and that’s how the virus spreads.
  • Find a trail or route with few other people, and consider running at off times of the day to ensure appropriate social distancing.
  • Wear a mask (or at least take one with you in case you need it). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing cloth masks in public settings where it’s hard to stay six feet away from others. If you know your running route will have other pedestrians on it, wear a mask or neck gaiter over your nose and mouth.


If you’re staying safe indoors:

running in isolation - woman running on treadmill at home

We get it: If you’re a runner who loves the great outdoors, you are likely feeling more than a little bummed. Here are some ways to stay in shape and keep moving, regardless of the square footage of your home.

2. Befriend the Treadmill

Running on a treadmill from the safety of your own home is a great way to stay healthy and keep training. If you get bored, ACE-certified personal trainer and running coach Nancy Feinstein suggests running while watching your favorite TV show or listening to a podcast or motivating playlist.

You can also try a HIIT treadmill training workout.

3. Keep Up with Strength Training

As a runner, you know you should be doing strength training. If you’ve been slacking, now’s an ideal time to make it a regular part of your training program (shoot for at least two strength workouts a week).

Need a refresher? Start with the new rules of strength training for runners.

4. No Equipment? No Problem

If you don’t have a treadmill at home, there are plenty of other ways to get in some cardio. Try a new program, like XB Pilates and Xtend Barre, to help you strengthen your entire body as you work up a sweat.

Or maybe you crave high-octane workouts? Rough Around The Edges combines mixed martial arts, kickboxing, dance, HIIT, and core work. And if you’re short on time, 600 Secs mixes and matches 10-minute workouts that target multiple muscle groups.

5. HIIT It Instead

If you’re missing sprints but can’t get to a track, swap in a little high-intensity interval training.

HIIT workouts are great for runners,” Feinstein says. “They work explosiveness, which is necessary to pick up your running pace. Getting the heart rate up in a short amount of time will also help with endurance.”

6. Take Care of Your Muscles

Use this time to do all the recovery and mobility work that gets short-changed when you’re busier. Pencil in plenty of yoga, stretching, and foam rolling. Need inspiration? Check out Yoga 52 and these tips for doing at-home yoga exercises.


How to adapt your training plan

running in isolation - stretching before run

If your race is postponed, you might need to re-examine your training plan. Try some of these tactics.

7. Focus on Your Weaknesses

“This may not be the time to get in the best shape of your life, but you may be able to turn some of your weaknesses into strengths,” Serafini says. If you need to work on speed, do six to eight 15-second strides after your runs, for example. And if strength is your weak spot, follow the strength-training guidelines mentioned above.

8. Change Your Goals

“It is definitely weird training without a specific race and date to plan around, but it helps to keep in mind that there will be another race at some point,” says long-distance runner Allie Buchalski, who finished second in the 5,000-meter event at the 2018 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

If that doesn’t help, shift your training. In addition to a longer base phase with slower, steady-state miles, you may want to extend your preparation phase, adding more strenuous and speed-related workouts.

9. Consider a Solo Run

No official races on the calendar? No problem. Do a solo race instead. Pick a route that starts and ends at home, and pack all your own fuel and water.

“It’s a great practice for staying mentally engaged,” Serafini says. “It will require a lot more focus and pace checks. If this is something you can master, it will make you a stronger runner in the long term, and once you get back to racing with other people, you’ll be much better for it.”

10. Adjust for a Postponed Race

If your race does have a new date, count backward from it to determine when you have to start training again, Serafini says. (You’ll likely need 12 to 18 weeks.) That may mean taking a week or two to let your body recover before ramping back up.

11. Try a Virtual Run (or Walk)

If you still want a sense of community on your runs, sign up for an Openfit Live running or walking class. You’ll have a Live trainer talking you through the whole class, plus the support of other people who are doing the same thing as you around the country!

Learn more about our Live classes here.