Need a cure for circuit breaker cabin fever? Get out there and start running! Here's how HoneyKids writer Jana got started...
Never in my wildest dreams would I ever have imagined I’d call myself a runner. Before Covid-19 and the whole circuit breaker business put a dampener on my irregular gym sessions, I’d always thought runners looked so… intense. I mean, how hard could it be, really? You’re just running, right? Wrong. Two months down the track, I’m starting to see that it’s much more than just lacing up your runners and going for it. And boy have my goals changed. From initially wanting to run 10k, I’m now determined to run 15k by the end of June. Here’s how my journey began…
Before signing up for online coached running
On 12 February (pre-circuit breaker), I recorded my first run – I struggled through four kilometres, then managed five kilometres five days later. I was exhausted after both sessions and I couldn’t even imagine running more than twice a week. Running was a lot harder than I thought! Unlike all the other sports and activities I’ve tried (all done in groups and with partners), with running you are completely on your own – all you have is your music and your thoughts to keep you company. (Note: On my second run, I tried listening to a murder podcast and got very freaked out halfway. Music is a much better accompaniment!) Then, at the peak of the circuit breaker, running was the only exercise option available.
My co-workers and I decided to start a semi-motivational running WhatsApp group where we’d tell each other how much we’d run (or didn’t run). This really pushed me – soon, I was running five kilometres three times a week. I knew I had to give myself a bigger goal, or else I wouldn’t be as motivated.
New goal: running 10k
I decided to set myself the goal of 10 kilometres. And I knew that if I wanted to get there, I needed help. A friend who works in the fitness industry recommended Coached. He said that all the coaches were legit and could help me get where I wanted. Two weeks later, I reached my goal! The training plan isn’t easy though – you need to be willing to run for at least 40 minutes (you’ll need to run longer most days), five times a week with one day of strength training. Also, signing up for this took my mind off the circuit breaker – I was more focused on my running than anything else!
Mind over matter
Ask any person who’s trained for a sport and they’ll tell you that the toughest part is just getting started. On days that I don’t feel like running, I just put on my activewear as soon as I get up so there’s no backing out. Also, thanks to my kids, I’m an early riser so I like to get my workouts done first thing in the morning. This way I can get my day’s work out the way, then finish early and spend more time with my kids.
On feeling intimidated
I’m on a social fitness app called Strava where I have many friends who run on a regular basis. I can see their stats and sometimes, I can’t help but compare my own progress to theirs. But I remind myself that I’m new to this running business. I’m still getting used to running in the Singapore heat and pounding the pavement five times a week. Most importantly, I remind myself that this isn’t a race. There’s no one running beside me, trying to do better than me. There’s no point in trying for a new PB every day – all I need to do is stick to the program and everything will be gravy.
Want to start running during the circuit breaker?
If you’re starting from scratch (aka you’ve never run a day in your life), don’t expect to run 5k right away. Try to go as far as you can – whether it’s 1k or 2k, it all helps! – and stop when your body tells you to. Don’t work to the point of complete exhaustion; you’re just starting out! Once you’re comfortable, slowly increase your distance. Doing too much too soon could get you injured, or worse, turn you off running completely!
Yes, it’s as simple as putting your running shoes on and getting out the door. But first: HYDRATE. We live in the tropics, so it’s going to be hot out there. You’re going to sweat A LOT so you’ll need to make up for it. Start drinking water at least an hour before your run – around 500ml will do. Not only will staying hydrated help you run longer, it also prevents you from passing out from the heat – trust us on this!
A good pair of running shoes makes a lot of difference too, especially if you’re committed to running a certain distance. Also, just because a shoe is pretty, doesn’t mean it’s good for running. One word: support.
Another important tip: you need to give yourself a goal. Goal setting gives you something to look forward to. It also helps you map out what you need to achieve your goals – even if it just means getting up and running during the circuit breaker. Make sure those goals are measurable: 5k/10k/15k. If you want to get into the specifics, you could even aim for a goal pace and time. I highly suggest getting a personal coach to help you reach those goals. Google can’t read your Apple Watch and tell you what you’re doing wrong.
Finally, above all, do it for you. I’ve always loved going for walks and exploring, and running has taken me way past my neighbourhood into park connectors and trails I’ve never even heard of before. And runner’s high is a REAL THING. After a nice run, I have this urge to hug everyone, which is awesome after a stressful day of homeschooling and working from home. It’s my little dose of me-time – so much yas!
Top image: Shutterstock