One thing is certain, we don’t want another year of “new normal”. But running is one sport that allows you to be flexible and lets you be in complete control of your goals and targets. Here’s how you can set your running and fitness goals for 2021.
Three of my running friends tested Covid-19 positive in December 2020. Though they did not suffer from the more serious consequences of the virus, like difficulty in breathing, chest pain and high fever; they did suffer from the milder symptoms like loss of smell and taste, followed by diarrhoea and headache. After a home quarantine of two weeks, they were hitting the road once again. Perhaps the biggest learning experience from 2020, which I would like to propagate in 2021, is that being physically fit is the most important criterion for 2021. It could one day save your life.
Truth is, we do not know when races will reopen again. Many think it will be sometime in March or April 2021, but there is no guarantee. Vaccines are being fast forwarded for governmental approvals to start inoculations. I am looking for a stimulating challenge, trying to compensate for the terrible year, which we have just overcome.
Rather than hide from this fact and pretend everything will return to normal soon, it is better to plan ahead so you are ready for the new year. Here are some ideas for runners looking to prepare for 2021:
1. Running outside your city or town with your own group of three to five runners, who could travel in a car can revive you to run a marathon in a countryside or on the National Highways with cycling buddies carrying hydration fluids, electrolytes and light refreshments. The Covid precautions of physical distancing during the run and hand wash with masking before and after run should be sacrosanct. The idea is to run in a place far from home yet without night stays.
2. For those with a greater appetite for risk can travel to a mountain, forest or beach. The idea is to have a change of scenery. If you live somewhere hot, visit somewhere cold and vice versa. If you are used to running in the forest, maybe try a desert. Always remember to run with people you are familiar with. It mitigates the risk of contracting the virus.
3. Racing is not completely off the board for 2021, but any events that might happen will likely occur later in the year. Many spring races have already been cancelled or moved to autumn and while this hardly guarantees that they will happen, it at least gives them a better chance at being run. If you are looking to run some big races in 2021, follow the lead of many event organizers and hold off until the second half of 2021.
4. The good news for virtual race runners, who kept busy during 2020, is that most well-known virtual race organizers have made running programs for the entire year with leadership boards with both distance and timing criteria. Some of them also offer age group prizes for the longest distances and fastest timings. Attractive medals, trophies and digital certificates greet the runners each month end and the journey continues till December 2021.
5. Set personal goals and challenges. Going along with the fully virtual season, you can plan a year of personal challenges for 2021. Try a run every day of the month or do a different distance every day or try to run thrice a week- short-medium-long runs. Whatever you choose, make it fun.
6. Look for local runs in your city. Everyone loves racing huge events with thousands of other runners, but it is highly likely that fields of this size will not be permitted for a while. However, smaller races have a much better chance of being run in the coming months and year so if you are planning for 2021, consider adding local runs to your schedule.
As several events across the country have already proven, races with smaller fields can be run safely with wave starts, social distancing and other Covid-19 guidelines in place. Remember that in 2020, well-known race organizers did conduct races for elite runners with government approvals with the rest of the runners running solo at their city of stay. A common app was used to provide a sense of parity among the runners for timing purposes.
To maintain your running goals for 2021, you also need to adhere to the following aspects:
Eat in proper quantities
Some people eat very less or do not eat at all in order to lose weight. This is a very unhealthy practice. Few eat too much. You must take a properly balanced diet and eat in the right quantities. Include the right number of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and protein in your diet. Take small meals, but do not overeat or starve yourself. This will give your body all the required nutrients and make you fit.
Take your cardio workout seriously
You must take your cardio workout seriously. Cardio exercises improve the health of your heart. It also improves blood circulation by pumping blood faster. This way there is more oxygen in your system, which is healthy for your brain and heart. You can either opt for walking, jogging or running. Cardio exercises can also be easily done on a treadmill at home or in a gym.
Pay attention to your calorie intake
Whenever you consume any foods make sure that you note the number of calories you are consuming. Pay very serious attention to your calorie intake. A high number of calories can lead to weight gain, which will in turn, lead to heart, kidney and liver diseases. To stay fit and healthy you must consume only the required number of calories and burn any excess amount consumed. Try to follow your (BMI) Body Mass Index.
Your body consists of 70% water. It is of huge importance and consumption of water or liquids will keep you fit. You should consume fresh fruit juices, vegetable juices, protein shakes, and any other such fluids to provide your body with the amount of water intake it requires. Water is good for your skin. It keeps you healthy both inside out.
Get enough sleep
All work and no rest make you unproductive and affect your health. You must get up to 8 hours of sleep every day to keep your brain and body functioning smoothly. Sleep revives your system and helps you start afresh. Get enough rest to achieve your fitness goals and a healthy lifestyle.