Sport & Health 10 tips when hitting the park for your lockdown run

10 tips when hitting the park for your lockdown run

Jogging during Coronavirus
Running is a great way to relieve the lockdown blues

With the easing of regulations during level 4 and 3 of the national lockdown, joggers in colourful apparel have once again become a familiar sight in parks, on city sidewalks and at beachfronts all over the country. This has been a welcome change after weeks of being being cooped up indoors, as now joggers can shake off the lockdown blues with a good run.

Sports physicians are in favour of running outdoors as they believe that open-air sports strengthen the immune system. Running releases adrenaline, which boosts and speeds up production of the body’s natural immune cells and lymphocytes, which reduces the chances of infection, making runners 50% less likely to fall ill.

However, there are still a lot of questions and concerns about jogging during the time of the coronavirus – how high is the risk of infection while running? Should runners wear masks? Can I run while pushing my baby in a stroller? Continental Tyre SA shared some tips for beginners and more experienced runners during the lockdown.

Running in a mask?

The wearing of masks that cover the mouth and nose is compulsory under current regulations and this, unfortunately, also applies to running. This can inhibit your breathing somewhat, and could also affect your rhythm and training. It is recommended that exercise regime and pace are adjusted to accommodate this new system. It is also recommended keeping a 2m distance when running in pairs and maintaining a 15m distance when running behind them to avoid running through a cloud of air they have breathed.

How long should I run for?

People who are new to running subject their bodies to a process of adjustment as bones, ligaments, joints, heart and blood vessels become accustomed to a new routine. A weekly quota of two or three runs lasting 30-40 minutes is ideal for beginners and returning runners. Beginners should allow themselves two days to regenerate between runs whereas long-time runners, who should run for up to 90 minutes, should have at least a day off between runs.

How fast should I run?

The key is to start at a slow pace and build up momentum. Starting to train again too fast or too intensively can lead to injury or fatigue. Never exercise with symptoms of a cold.

The old rule of thumb is that your speed is just right if you can hold a conversation while running and you should slow down if you are too out of breath to speak. About 80% of training should be done at normal pace and the 20% can then be intensive, as this helps you get more oxygen into the body.

Is it better to run in the morning or evening?

Personal preference plays a part in this scenario. Some people enjoy running in the morning to get their days started while others prefer a run in the evening as a means to unwind. Either one is ideal but with the current regulations, morning runs are the only option until June 1, after which you’ll be able to exercise at any time of the day.

Should I only run before meals?

That is not a hard-and-fast rule, though running straight after a meal is not advised. You should wait at least 1-2 hours before going for a run. There is no need to eat any food if you’re a morning runner as energy preserved from supper the night before will last you throughout your run, though it’s recommended you eat a light meal – like a banana – if your session will run longer than 45 minutes.

Where can I run if my regular routes are not possible or are too busy?

If your favourite isn’t accessible, try running around your neighbourhood. Try to switch it up so the route doesn’t get monotonous too quickly, like running your route the other way around, or running the halfway mark and then turning back, or simply taking a turn you’ve never taken before.

Also Read: Six ways to volunteer during lockdown

Should I stretch before or after running?

Stretching afterwards is more important than before because of muscle deficits beginners usually have. Stretching is used for accelerated relaxation of muscles. It’s particularly important to stretch calf muscles, Achilles tendons and ankle joints.

Exercises that involve using your own body weight help with your running as well, such as planks, side planks and push-ups to strengthen and stabilise the muscles of the torso, trunk and pelvic floor.

Can I push a stroller while I jog?

Opinions are divided when it comes to this – some people are opposed to the idea, while others don’t consider it a problem. It is important to note that a baby should not be pushed along in a jogging stroller until it can hold up its own head unassisted. Remember to practice social distancing if you do jog with your baby to avoid infection.

What about listening to music on earphones while I run?

For beginners especially, music can cause a disturbance of your rhythm and breathing patterns. This can lead to what is commonly known as stitch. Breathing irregularly causes cramps in the diaphragm, which runners experience as a stabbing pain in the side. The only cure is to stop running, stretch and take deep breaths.

Experienced joggers can listen to music while they run, and it may even enhance their performance and increase their motivation. At optimum synchronisation, the rhythm and tempo of the runner’s breathing, pulse, step and frequency will become identical. Experts recommend that joggers listen to tracks with 150 to 180 beats per minute.

A word of warning – do not turn the volume up too loud or you may not be able to hear runners or cyclists approaching or passing. It is essential to remain alert and aware of your surroundings at all times.

Are my old shoes still good enough?

If in doubt, don’t wear them. The only option is a pair of purpose-made or individually customised running shoes. For example, the Adidas shoes with the Continental soles are highly recommended as they provide optimum grip and support a healthy running style.

A jogger’s feet have to cushion the equivalent of three or four times their body weight. If your running shoes don’t do this, you risk getting stress or strain injuries. You should buy running shoes a size larger than your regular footwear since your feet will need some extra room, as they tend to swell when running. There should be about 2cm in space around the toe area as toes tend to splay out when they hit the ground, increasing the width of your footprint.