Tips for Trail Running during Social Distancing with Ben Mounsey
Written By: Ben Mounsey
During this difficult period of social distancing and isolation, it’s essential that you exercise to stay fit and healthy, for both your body and mind. Fell, mountain and trail runner Ben Mounsey gives his top advice on everything you need to know about keeping safe on your trail runs these days.
At present, government advice dictates that we all have one opportunity to train every day, so you should really treasure this privilege. In other, less-fortunate countries, they have much tighter restrictions on social movement.
Please remember that the official advice and rules for UK citizens may change over the next few days and weeks, so it’s very important to regularly check any updates on the official government website.
1. CHANGE YOUR MINDSET
I’m sure that most people are feeling pretty worried, scared and anxious about what is happening in the world right now - I know that I certainly am. It’s really important to accept that the current large-scale circumstances are completely out of your control and you have to adjust your mind-set and adapt your daily routine in order to cope with the incredible changes thrust upon our daily lives. But equally recognise that can all play our small part in the fight against the COVID-19. If we are all sensible, respect the rules and each do our bit – it will make a big difference to eventually slowly down and stopping the spread of the virus. It’s also good to talk, so make sure you chat to others members of your household about how you’re feeling (pick up the phone if you’re on your own).
This also why it is so important to make the most of your running and exercise. It’s the perfect opportunity to reduce your anxiety and negative thoughts whilst enjoying some much-needed fresh air. Forget training for any races that you had planned and instead focus on the here and now. Enjoy your training and stay fit – that is the most important thing right now!
2. CHOOSE THE BEST TIME TO RUN
This tip is especially important if you live in a busy, urban area. For example, try and run early in the morning to avoid other people going to work or the shops. Stay away from busy streets/areas and wherever possible, you must minimise contact and engagement with other people. Some people are much more fortunate than others because they might live in quiet, rural areas. Whatever your circumstance, be sensible and use a common sense approach when it comes to exercising.
It is not advisable to travel/drive anywhere to exercise. Leave your car where it is and either run from home or exercise inside. Reduce the chance of seeing other people by running with a nearby radius of your home.
3. CHOOSE A QUIET ROUTE/TRAIL
Avoid popular trails, paths and ‘hotspots’. Study a map of the local area and choose a route where you are less likely to see/pass other people. Instead, study a map of the local area and plan a route where you are less likely to come into contact with anyone. For example, apps like KOMOOT will show you a map of all the trails in your local area. You can also have some fun in the build up to a run by planning new routes and exploring hidden trails. Websites such as Suunto Movescount will also allow you plan a route using mapping software.
4. TRAIN ALONE/OR ONLY WITH OTHER HOUSEHOLD MEMBERS
In order to minimise the spread of the virus – do not arrange to meet and train with friends or groups of people. If you do see another runner or cyclist on the trail, then make sure you adhere to the 2m rule as recommended by the government. It is OK to train with other members of your household, but it might also be an opportunity for you to escape from the confines of your home and get some much-needed fresh air. Perhaps even take it in turns to exercise with people in your house. Enjoying time to yourself will help to relieve tension and stress in this difficult period of social isolation. It’s also good to have a break from the news, the internet and social media!
5. DON’T TRAIN TOO HARD OR RUN TOO FAR
The rigors of long distance running temporarily weaken your immune system. Look after yourself and manage your training sensibly.
Currently we are allowed to train once a day to help us improve our physical and mental health. There isn’t a limit on how long or far you can run, but common sense should dictate what is a reasonable and acceptable amount. You certainly don’t need to run a marathon every day – all races have been cancelled. Minimise the chances of seeing other people, by keeping your runs down to a sensible distance and don’t flout the rules by running more than once a day.
6. ALWAYS TELL SOMEONE ELSE WHERE YOU ARE GOING
Safety first – tell someone where you are going and how long you expect to be out. Ideally take a phone with you and always carry extra kit in case of an emergency – racepack /bumbag with extra clothing etc.
Now is not the time for heroics – don’t plan any runs that are dangerous or leave you feeling exposed. Save your ambition or completing Crib Goch, for the future. Minimise your risk of injury and exposure – you don’t want to put any extra pressure on our emergency services, especially if Mountain Rescue need to be called out.
7. LEAVE YOUR KIT AT THE DOOR
Leave your trainers next to the door (outside if possible). Don’t walk them through the house and when you’ve finished running, make sure you take off as much of your kit before you walk through the house. Wash your kit as soon as possible. Try and avoid touching gates and stiles during your run. Make sure you always wash your hands as soon as you get home.
Another great tip (and something I’m doing) is to leave some anti-bacterial gel at the front door to clean your hands.
8. TRAIN AT HOME
There are no restrictions to the amount of exercise you can do at home. Set up a room in your house where you can relax, stretch and workout. There are some fabulous online workouts that you can use for ideas and much of these do not require any equipment. If you’re lucky enough to own a treadmill, exercise bike, turbo-trainer or weights, then you won’t even need to leave the house!