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Quarantine: How to stay physically and mentally fit as a runner

By Veronika Vadovicova

It’s been more than a year and a half since the first outbreak of coronavirus. Our realities shifted slowly at first, and before we knew it, the coronavirus took over completely. As countries closed borders many of us were left isolated without a possibility to see our families for a very long time.

Despite covid-19 continuing to claim lives, locations around the world are beginning to open again and people are slowly resuming their travel plans. And so, at the beginning of April, right after my first dose of vaccination, I also made a decision to travel back home this summer. It has been 16 long months without seeing my family and I was super excited boarding a plane again and heading home.

While you might think that going back home was a great idea, bear in mind that due to the strict rules of the Hong Kong government a 14 day compulsory hotel quarantine was a requirement after landing back in Hong Kong. Some of you might think it was a crazy idea to travel for just over two weeks and then having to spend 14 days in a hotel room. To me it was a no brainer. I really wanted to see my family and I was willing to do anything for it. The trip was definitely worth it but as my time back home was coming to an end I started dreading those 14 days of isolation without being able to run! In order to survive this modern day quarantine I had to come up with a plan. I knew two things I had to do in order to feel comfortable:

  1. Keeping a routine day by day to stay on track with my training

  2. Finding some other form of exercise to replace the absence of running

And so I did my homework and prepared as much as I could. For all of you who might find yourselves in a similar situation, here is a manual on how to stay fit and sane during your quarantine:

  • Prepare a routine before it all starts - What are the daily activities you enjoy and can keep on doing while you are locked in a hotel room (eg morning yoga, evening strength workout) - What are the alternatives you can do to replace your favorite activities that you cannot do in the room (A.k.a. running. What activities can you do to replace running?)

  • Make sure to have all items you need with you in your luggage or ask friends/family to bring anything you need into the room prior to your arrival - Think yoga mat, body weights, fitness bands, fitness ball, indoor bike/trainer, sports bottle, towels, recovery drinks/gels, supplements, workout clothes, cleaning detergent for your fitness equipment)

  • Stick to your routine - It is beneficial to keep the same schedule throughout the whole quarantine. If you have a consistent schedule for all of your activities, days will fly by. - Have a proper sleep routine. From day one I decided to wake up and go to bed at a specific time and I kept this routine going no matter if it was weekday or weekend. This had a big impact on my performance and well-being.

  • Plan all of your daily workouts ahead - I decided to focus on yoga, cycling and on strengthening my abs. I made a promise to myself to keep these activities going every single day of my quarantine. - I created a weekly workout schedule and simply followed what I had prepared. After just a few days it was impossible to not start the day with some yoga poses or to not hop on the bike throughout the day. What made it even better was that I started seeing improvements very quickly. That really kept me going!

  • Find lost motivation with the help of online resources - I knew I wanted to add strength and mobility workouts to my routine too. This is something I don’t necessarily enjoy and usually do as a group workout but here I was, all alone. Luckily, I found lots of great resources online that motivated me a bit more. Following a coach on YouTube or an Avatar via different fitness apps made these workouts so much easier!

  • Don’t skip cardio! - Focusing on cardio workouts was what made a huge difference in my mental state throughout the quarantine. Just one hour of a good cardio workout filled me with positive energy for the rest of the day. It can be harder to add some good sweat sessions without having a bike/treadmill in your room but I believe that you can find some good cardio workout routines online. There are tons of great videos that will help you sweat.

To sum it up, being in the quarantine was really way better than what I initially expected. As a runner I was terrified of not being able to run and being locked inside a room for two weeks. But surprisingly enough, this quarantine had way more positive than negative effects on my physical and mental well being.

First of all, it definitely gave my body a well deserved rest from running. I usually obsess about my running routine and get anxious after two days of no running. But knowing that I had no choice I managed to plan so many alternative activities that I did not feel the urge to run. I kept myself active and at the same time gave my body a running break that it truly deserved.

Second of all, my quarantine stay actually helped me to get stronger and fitter. Without ‘wasting’ time to commute to work, to prepare meals, to do chores, to meet friends and to socialize I had so much time on my hands. I was able to focus on strengthening my body and exploring new kinds of workouts every day. It’s a paradox but I feel stronger, fitter and leaner than before!

Finally, if you are still hesitating about your next trip because you worry about the impact of the quarantine on your running performance, do not worry at all! If you plan your days wisely and stick to the right routine, you might actually end up benefiting from this situation.

Online resources I used during this quarantine are listed below:

Yoga: Strength for runners: Indoor Cycling:

Arm strength workout:

Full Body Workout: SWEAT App

Ab Workouts: Six Pack in 30 Days - 6 Pack App

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