USATF trainer Christie-Lee Coad shares her advice for athletes who are stressed and stir-crazy.
If you’re going a little bit nuts while staying at home, we get it. Running solo is getting tedious, and the warm weather is making us itch for track meets under the lights and post-run beers with friends. But while longing for life after coronavirus is only natural, a better use of our time right now is finding ways to stay as healthy and happy as we can.
Christie-Lee Coad, an athletic trainer who is part of the USATF medical staff headed to the Tokyo Olympics next year, has completely changed the way she works in light of the pandemic. Instead of seeing track and field athletes in her clinic in College Station, Texas, Coad gives them stretches and mobility exercises over video chat or via email or text.
“One blessing of not having competitions right now is that athletes can focus on something they want to improve or strengthen without worrying about racing,” Coad told Runner’s World. “It’s a great time to heal a stress injury or hamstring issue that was bothering you earlier this year.”
Whether you’re an elite or recreational runner, you’ve likely visited a trainer or physical therapist at some point for treatment, injury rehab, or a massage. Now, with most training facilities closed at the moment, it’s up to you to keep yourself tuned up. Here, Coad shares her advice for runners on how to stay fit, sane, and injury-free right now.
Since it’s unclear when racing will start again, runners should establish short-term fitness goals to focus on rather than waiting to test themselves at a race, Coad said.
For example, if you were planning to do a marathon this spring but your event was postponed until the fall, you might challenge yourself by racing a solo mile this summer. Set a date and a goal time for the race, then write down the workouts you will need to do to achieve your goal. This goal-setting practice will keep you motivated to run, freshen up your routine, boost your fitness, and provide a much-needed sense of control and accomplishment during these uncertain times.
That said, short-term fitness goals don’t have to be just about racing. Other good goals might include meditating every morning, warming up and stretching after each run, or doing 25 push-ups in a row—things on which we might not focus if we are logging miles ahead of a race. Whatever your goal is, jot it down, set a deadline, and make a plan to see it through.
“Don’t worry about losing fitness,” Coad said. “In times like these, your main goal is to stay healthy. If you want to compete right now, there are ways to do it through virtual racing. But if you don’t want to race, it’s a great time to try other exercises and challenge yourself in different ways.”
While most of us can’t book a massage appointment right now, we’re fortunate to have many ways to treat our aches and pains from home. Olympian Gwen Jorgensen, who normally receives several treatments a week from separate trainers, shared on Instagram that she’s been self-treating her sore legs with a Sidekick recovery tool. From cheap lacrosse balls and foam rollers to pricier Sidekicks, Theraguns, and Normatec boots, there’s a recovery tool for every budget.
“Runners should definitely take advantage of these tools if they have them,” Coad said. “We’re fortunate to have ways to self-massage without having to see a trainer. As long as you use the tools properly, they are great substitutes for in-person treatment.”