April 4, 2020
Granville Bridge from the False Creek Seawall

Staying fit during the COVID-19 crisis

Social distancing and self-isolation leads to a lot of couch and screen time. However, the longer I do nothing, I get stir crazy. So how does one not lose their motivation to move during these extraordinary times? Here’s what I would do to stay active yet safe from COVID-19 exposure.

Please note, I am not a personal trainer or doctor. Always listen to your body and consult your doctor if you are concerned about your health. I am merely sharing what I would be doing to cope during these trying times. Thanks 🙂

Embrace the solo run

Lace up and go! Learn to love the solo run because this is going to be a reality for a while. Listen to some tunes (need new headphones?), catch up on podcasts, or simply get lost in your thoughts as your legs take you on a journey. You’ll come back home refreshed. If you must run with someone, just invite a friend or two and keep your distance from each other. [Edit below] Fresh air is good for you, too.

Edited March 22, 2020: If you must invite someone to run with, do so preferably with someone who lives with you. The situation is becoming worse by the day and we need to tighten things up here.

I run solo frequently, I find it quite calming.

Work out at home

Day by day, fitness centres and studios are closing due to coronavirus concerns. What do you do? Utilize technology! A quick search on YouTube will give you a bunch of videos showing what exercises you want to do. Blogilates and Fitness Blender are two of my favourite fitness channels for quick & effective workouts (search for HIIT). Flatten the curve and your abs at the same time!

On Instagram, follow fitness trainers as some of them are posting daily workouts online like Mandy Gill. Lululemon and YYoga (they have a free trial for 2 weeks!) are also posting their own fitness and wellness content. Find your favourite and see what they’re offering.

woman doing a plank in a gym
You can easily plank at home! Don’t forget to hydrate!

Search for body weight exercises which don’t require any equipment. If you need some resistance, find something heavy in your house like a big book. Some of my favourite exercises to do at home are squats & lunges (different varieties), glute bridges, push-ups, crunches, dead bug, plank (all sides), calf raises/heel drops (on stairs), mountain climbers and burpees. I use my yoga mat for anything that requires me to lie on the floor but if you don’t have one, it’s fine.

Running clubs go virtual

Group runs have gone the wayside these days, thanks to COVID-19, but that’s not stopping people from going out for solo runs and posting about it! The East Van Run Crew holds #virtualEVRC on Mondays. Just go for a run, post a story and tag @eastvanruncrew and #virtualEVRC. Don’t forget to share what kind of après run beer you’re having too. RUN DISTRIKT in North Vancouver is also encouraging people to run Wednesday nights. Tag @rundistrikt #rundistrikt when you post about your activity so they can see what you’re up to and give you a virtual high five.

My new Tuesday staple, track with the Fraser Street Run Club, is now cancelled indefinitely, but they are still posting speed workouts we can do on our own. The seawall is the perfect place for a speed workout if you can’t get yourself to a track. Getting better together from afar is a good thing. Don’t forget to share your workout on social media and tag @fraserstreetrunclub. Follow them on Instagram or Facebook to find out what the workout of the day is.

Fraser Street Run Club group photo at a track
Track Tuesday with Fraser Street Run Club can be done on your own

Nothing stops November Project from working out every Wednesdays at 6:29 AM… or so I thought. Unfortunately, nobody is coronavirus-proof and the #freefitness group is simply doing their duty to keep everyone safe and healthy. In lieu of in-person workouts, they are offering virtual workouts you can do at home. Just follow @novemberproject and @novemberprojectvancouver to see what they’ve got planned for you. I love that #NP_continues even in times of crisis.

Trail time

It’s a good time to get away from the city and get back to nature. It seems that a lot of people have the same idea though. Luckily, we have a massive and accessible trail network in our backyard. We don’t necessarily have to go to the heavily-populated areas (I’m looking at you Quarry Rock), but I would look at informative websites like Vancouver Trails and choose an area you’ve never been to before. The Baden Powell trail is a favourite of mine because of its many access points and diversity of terrain. As always, if you’re going for a hike, leave a trip plan with someone you trust, wear the right equipment and clothing, and pack the 10 essentials.

trail runner running in North Vancouver
Do you know where this trail is?

Dealing with race cancellations

The spring running races have been cancelled to help inhibit the spread of COVID-19, which means most of us have gotten the bulk of the training done with nothing to show for it. Well not really… we still got the gift of fitness! I’ve never been in as good a shape as I am now this early in the year. I will embrace that and try to maintain my gains until it’s time to start training for my other A race in August. If you’re able to, you can always do a time trial to see if there’s an improvement in your performance. That way you can suss out your weaknesses now and work on them in the future. As you’re running full speed, just be mindful of other pedestrians along your route and of course, don’t blow past don’t walk signs. A loop of Stanley Park is 10k and away from traffic so that is a great spot to do a time trial.

Vancouver runner sitting on a rock, BC place in the background
I guess it’s Sun Mountain 2021 for me…

Lastly, it goes without saying but respect others by being socially distant. The hugs and high fives can wait until COVID-19 blows over. Be mindful of what you’re touching (especially the crosswalk buttons) and use your elbow if you can. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when you’re done and self-isolate in a bath. Stay safe out there and don’t lose your love of running and the outdoors.

How are you dealing with the COVID-19 crisis? What measures are you taking to flatten the curve? Share in the comments below.

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