You are hereThe RRCA has provided the following guidelines for group events during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The RRCA has provided the following guidelines for group events during the COVID-19 outbreak.

edited - see link at end for full recommendations

(1) Public Health

First and foremost, please draw on expert medical advice from the CDC and from your state and county's public health agencies. The CDC website provides resources, data, and advice for specific populations. See At this writing, we're in a national state of emergency. As of March 15, the CDC has recommended all gatherings of 50 or more be cancelled until further notice.

When running alone or training in groups, please continue to take all precautions and please be a good health steward. Assuming that you will follow the overarching CDC advice and drawing on public health advisories, RRCA recommends some basic do's and don't's:
• Don’t show up if you are feeling ill or have flu-like symptoms.
• Don't share fluids. Carry your own fluids to avoid contact with others on course.
• Don't share towels, food, gels, or any other item that runners normally share freely.
• Do wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after using the port-a-john.
• Do not spit or “nose rocket” your nose in public – bring along tissues or a small towel or a good old-fashioned hanky if you need to get rid of some snot during the race.
• Do practice social distancing - ensure appropriate spacing between runners; the current recommendation is at least six feet of separation.
• Do avoid close-group selfies.

(4) Personal Health
Keep moving. There is compelling evidence that moderate exercise keeps you healthy. The academic journal Frontiers in Immunology published a study in April 2018 titled, "Debunking the Myth of Exercise-Induced Immune Suppression: Redefining the Impact of Exercise on Immunological Health Across the Lifespan."

According to the authors, John P. Campbell and James E. Turner, "evidence from epidemiological studies shows that leading a physically active lifestyle reduces the incidence of communicable (e.g., bacterial and viral infections) and non- communicable diseases (e.g., cancer), implying that immune competency is enhanced by regular exercise bouts."

This is good news for runners – in particular, for older runners. Campbell and Turner address the aging athlete and say that “exercise should be encouraged, particularly for older adults who are at greatest risk of infections and who may obtain the greatest exercise-induced benefits to immune competency.”

Campbell and Turner end their article with these words: "leading an active lifestyle is likely to be beneficial, rather than detrimental, to immune function . . . “

While following all the guidelines by the CDC and local authorities, if you can get outside for a run, that's great. If you're worried about exercising near others, try getting out early in the morning or at dusk during standard dinner time.

But if you can't or don't want to leave your home, there are still easy ways to exercise:
• Do body-weight exercises for muscle strength
• Do stretch/yoga for flexibility and mobility
• Do core workouts for stability
• Do modified cardiorespiratory workouts such as walking up and down flights of stairs
• Do set up a cross-fit style exercise course in your home, using small furniture or those old boxes of family mementos as free weights or step ups.
All you're trying to do is get your heart rate up and have a bit of fun, so be creative and enjoy the pleasure of moving.

(True story: we once watched a middle-aged man do a whole fitness routine on a California beach using nothing but an empty green garbage can and the low concrete wall alongside the walking path.)

Go Back to Base. If races are cancelled, this is a great time to cycle into a phase of Base Training. Easy conversational pace running has proven mental health benefits and proven cardiorespiratory benefit, so perhaps spend this time doing easy running at a low heart rate.

Depending on fitness, a base program of 1-2 runs of 25-40 minutes, 1-2 runs of an hour or so, and a longer run of 90-120 minutes will get you in excellent aerobic shape. (More running for those who run more and less for those who run less . . . )

Add in a 10-20 minute protocol of standard body-weight strength work and any of the standard flexibility/mobility exercises. A few months of this gentle running and you'll be in excellent shape.

Sprinkle in Some Effort. On the other hand, the good news is that you can also continue with high intensity training. As Dr. Jeff Messer, an exercise physiologist and 2017 US Girls High School Coach of the Year writes in an email, “Two (2) such vigorous sessions per week, for example, interspersed with multiple recovery sessions might be highly conducive to both a progressive enhancement of aerobic fitness and a corresponding enhancement of immunocompetency.”

Thus you may feel comfortable adding in 20 minutes of Lactate Threshold Tempo Run or 1-3 miles total of Track Tuesday-style vigorous sessions.

Dr. Messer writes that this sort of training, “presupposes, of course, that an individual has no physician-imposed limitations to aerobic exercise / training and no substantially or potentially limiting health issues (such as a prior myocardial infarction, for instance).”

In sum, Dr. Messer indicates that consistent mild-to-moderate intensity interspersed with periodic vigorous intensity bouts “can collectively yield improved immunological health.”

Remember in contrast to training for peak performance, the goal in this phase is to be moderate. In this public health crisis, you want to provide time for rest and recovery so that you are not feeling lethargic.

Run-Specific Cross Training. We love activities that mimic the running motion and increase our ability to bring in and process oxygen. Due to many of the community restrictions, this is a great time to include run-specific cross training activities in a training regiment, such as walking, hiking, elliptical, elliptigo, stair-stepper, and bike riding. We would like to include swimming, but this may not be an option due to closures of community pools.

Eat Well. Be mindful of your diet and continue to eat healthy food. It is easy to stockpile processed foods (crackers, chips, cereals, canned soups, and so forth), but you can also stockpile healthier foods, whether frozen, in a jar, or in a can.

Frozen fruits, peas, broccoli, brussel sprouts will add variety and nutrients, while canned beets, carrots, and other root foods will add texture and color to your meals. Tofu, nuts, and nut-butters can offer protein and healthy fats.

In times of stress, people tend to binge eat. Understand your own body, be mindful of your intake and understand that stress is normal . . . allow yourself the gift of comforting yourself in a healthy manner.

(5) Motivation
Just because your next race got cancelled doesn't mean that your fitness got cancelled! You're still in shape -- it's just a question of how you can use that fitness. Here are some possibilities -- and remember, please always follow national and local health advisories.

Get outside. Running in the open air and the scenery will do wonders for your spirit. According to a 2019 study in Mental Health and Prevention, "Numerous studies found green exercise to have positive health effects, in particular, green exercise was found to reduce anxiety and stress, and to improve mood, self-esteem, attention, concentration and physical health."

Create a calm space to exercise. In the 2019 Mental Health and Prevention study, "Optimizing Mental Health Benefits of Exercise" (Klepeski, Koch, Hewell, Shempp, and Muller), the authors conclude that "in order to reduce stress levels by engaging in exercise, it might not be crucial to engage in green exercise but to engage in exercise in an (indoor or outdoor) environment which is being perceived as calming." As a coach, communicate with your athletes to find what is calming for them – for some it could be their neighborhood in the early morning dawn while for others it could be a treadmill with Netflix.

Organize a personal track meet. If you're in shape and not displaying any cold or flu symptoms, head to your local track and set up a timed mile and see what you’ve got for the classic mile distance. Give yourself props for leg speed.

Pick a course that simulates your goal race and go run fast. Consider the standard negative split workout -- run the first portion at a reasonable pace, then shift gears and run the rest of the route with intensity.

Pretend you're an Olympian. Olympic athletes take the long view -- and you can too. You've built up your fitness, now cycle down and build it up again.

If resources permit, consider purchasing a membership in a company like Peloton or Mirror that provides virtual fitness classes. (You will want to be careful of overtraining in this environment, as it is easy to get caught up in the excitement and do more than your body can handle.)


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