By Philip Sanford
COVID-19 has disrupted the regular schedules for many runners. Working from home cuts out regular commuting time. Gathering restrictions have canceled normal extracurricular activities or pushed meetings to virtual rooms. As our schedules have been disrupted, statistics show that time spent running for exercise increased in 2020. So how should you approach this year with your running goals and so many unknown factors related to the easement of gathering restrictions and schedules getting back to normal?
Setting goals and an accompanying schedule is a delicate balancing act, especially with changing schedules and an unknown future for in-person races. Working with a coach, prioritizing goals in running and in life, and setting a schedule that works towards those goals are critical to striking that balance.
Set a goal date and work backwards
The simplest way to approach this with your coach and training partners is the same as pre-pandemic. Set your goal (race, distance, time, or a combination of the three), set the date of the goal, and create a schedule that concludes on that date. This will provide structure and continuity to your training plan with a steady expectation of a time commitment per week. If your schedule is in flux or will be changing as pandemic restrictions change, this approach might not work for you.
Training based on availability
Instead of working backwards, your schedule might dictate that time committed to training will change week-to-week or month-to-month. If that is the case, figure out how potential running goals fit within your other goals in life and develop a schedule that way. What are your short-term and long-term goals related to your family, personal development, and career? How much time per week, month, quarter, and year will need to be dedicated to those goals? Once you figure out how much time is available to dedicate to your running goals and how those goals will be prioritized in your life, it is time to set a schedule.
Be reasonable with your goals and schedule
Once you have figured out the prioritization and time available for your running goals, set a goal and schedule that is reasonable. If your life dictates that you have time for training three or four days a week and a total of 15 to 20 miles a week, then a goal of running a marathon would not be reasonable. But if you have the same time and distance restraints, setting a schedule with the goal to significantly improve your pace and finishing time for a 5k or 10k is very reasonable with the proper workouts and active recovery.
Philip Sanford is an RRCA-Certified Running Coach who writes a weekly newsletter about all things running. Check it out HERE.