Finding Fitness Motivation: Pandemic Edition

I recently revisited my post from February about finding motivation. I wrote that post knowing that the novelty of our New Year’s resolutions was likely fading, evident by the smaller crowds at the gym. Well, now that we don’t have the gym, how do we find motivation to exercise? And where do we look for help? As much as it sucks to lose the gym, it kind of takes off the pressure of seeking those new weightlifting PR’s for me, and I kind of don’t mind being forced to be creative, at least in the short term. I do, however, miss running with my sole sisters tremendously. Solo runs are just not as much fun.

I’m really missing my sole sisters right now! This is us before one of the Ukrop’s Monument 10k races.
This year’s race was postponed until September.

Honestly, I look to my exercise time as an escape from the confines of my home. That’s why I like my endurance cardio escapades. This means long runs from home or in town, or long bike rides from home. Even though most of the time I procrastinate in getting out the door, my soul appreciates the separation from my physical house. So my cardio is on point, but my strength training may be suffering. The few HIIT workouts I’ve compiled have left my muscles complaining more than I ever expected, which tells me that I should maybe focus on this a bit more! Although I long for the wind in my hair as I run or bike!

My bike!

Since I’m not officially training for anything as far as running goes, I’m keeping up with a simple maintenance running schedule. For me, this is 3 runs a week, 3, 3, and 6-8 miles. Since I have asthma and have a history of getting sick after big races, I’m resisting the urge to sign up for some of the super fun ultra challenges going on right now. But, oh, how I want that Yeti 24 hour ultra shirt!

Yes, exercise can help you stay healthy, but too much exercise can also wear on your body. So make sure you are allowing for adequate recovery if you are doing tough workouts or long virtual races. There is conflicting research about endurance exercise and its effects on your immunity, but recent research concludes that the phenomenon of runners coming down with respiratory infection after races may have more to do with what we are dealing with now during this pandemic… transmitting viruses due to close proximity with others as we stand in corrals prior to and in crowds to celebrate after. Check out this article and this one about running and the effects on your immune system. Bottom line? Keep exercising. Moderate exercise is very good for your immune system.

This three day per week plan is my maintenance schedule for running, but my body is used to training for a spring half marathon and at least one fall full marathon. Your schedule may look different! If you want some motivation to run, there are many shorter virtual races available right now, too. Are you new to running? Check out these tips by Sports Backers and my earlier blog post about running safety.

I typically fill in the days of the week that I don’t run with one active rest day and three cross training/weightlifting days. I’ve become reacquainted with my bike. But let me tell you… my body craves slinging weights almost as much as it itches to run. So finding suitable bodyweight training activities and things I can use around the house as weights has been a bit lackluster when compared to the barbell. I’ve mentioned in prior posts that I found wine caddies have come in handy as weights. Fill them with cans, and you’ve got a decent substitute for dumbbells. Used together, they can even sub for a kettlebell for kettlebell swings. I also have a jump rope, resistance bands, my bike, and a nice circular driveway that’s about 200m.

Wine totes filled with cans to be used as weights. Necessity is the mother of invention…

But even with these tools, how do you design a home workout? Sometimes I like to focus on a specific area, like core or arms, or a specific task, like accessory work for running, and I do isolated work on these. Some days, I’m not feeling motivated at all, and I work through a few online or on demand workouts I don’t have to think about. Other days, I like to create HIIT style, short workouts. I generally choose a cardio component and 2-3 body weight activities to create my “WOD.” If my legs are tired from running or biking, I may focus on more upper body work. Or if I feel like I need leg strengthening, I will try to do this the day after a short run. Body weight exercises can be squats, lunges, burpees, pushups, or sit-ups. Cardio can be a short run (up to a mile), jumping rope (reps of single or double unders), or a short bike ride. I also use a resistance band for more focused leg strengthening, deadlifts, and other functional movements. I will start sharing with you how to break down and scale some of these movements and how to use resistance bands, too, in subsequent blog posts.

It seems like everyone is posting workouts online and fitness motivation tips right now if you need further inspiration. And maybe you will finally have the time to work on your mobility with a yoga class! You can have lots of access to free and low cost routines and information if you know where to look! A good first place to start is your own gym. I’m a member of the YMCA, and they host online classes. My husband’s CrossFit box posts home WOD’s. But here are some other resources:

Recovery and strengthening tips with a bit of anatomy education:

  • DuraMater Therapy. Hallie Lifston is an occupational therapist, CrossFit coach, nutrition coach, and badass athlete. Her specialty is exercise recovery and injury prevention. She provides excellent content on her Instagram account @duramatertherapy.
  • Risingsummityoga is the Instagram for Amanda Myers. She is a runner, yoga instructor, massage therapist, and health coach. She posts a lot of valuable content or her account @risingsummityoga. I’ve really enjoyed learning about the different yoga poses!

Yoga classes:

  • Yoga On Center in Ashland is zooming classes right now. These are donation based if you are able to give. Follow them on Instagram for their schedule @yogaoncenter.  
  • Check your local yoga studios to see if they are streaming classes. Many are charging fees, but just think of it as another way to support your local economy.

HIIT workouts:

  • The Sports Backers Fitness Warriors are posting classes online. They have a variety of styles, including dance, fusion, and HIIT style workouts. Follow them on Instagram for updates @rvafitnesswarriors.

Sports Backers:

  • This Richmond area non-profit, mother of the Fitness Warriors, the Richmond Marathon, the Ukrop’s Monument 10k, and associated training teams, has posted a variety of resources online, including information about virtual races, races still on the books for later this year, fitness trackers, Facebook accountability groups, and a kids challenge!
  • Sports Backers is also celebrating Bike Month in the RVA this month with Bike Walk RVA! There are many virtual activities to help you celebrate and keep you moving!

Cable subscription offerings:

  • If you are a subscriber, both Xfinity and Verizon offer several fitness classes on demand. These are great for introverts like me who are timid about zoom classes! I’ve found a wide variety of class types, intensity levels, and length of workouts. Some are even short enough that if you are working from home, you can fit in a quick 10 minute workout to fight the fatigue of sitting in front of your computer.

YouTube channels:

  • There are a myriad of fitness gurus to follow on YouTube! This article and also this one highlight just a few popular ones.

Social Media for the Soul:

Fitness also means having the mental space to feel like working out. So it’s really nice to fill your feed with positivity and humor! Here are a few accounts I really love right now:

  • Photography:
    • @billdraperphotography is a local runner and personal friend of mine. He captures stunning views of the City of Richmond and our local wildlife.
    • @jtm71 is a professional photographer based in Tennessee. He captures incredible views of the Smoky Mountains. Most of them simply take my breath away.
  • Vegan goodness:
    • If you haven’t experienced the joy that is @iamtabithabrown, you simply must go follow her! She posts great videos with vegan recipes with her own special brand of charm. Like so, like that!
    • For more vegan recipes, follow @nora_cooks_vegan. Her recipes inspire me! She posted a vegan coconut cake and a few donut recipes that I really want to try.
  • Fun and cocktails:
    • I have followed Tamo since she was a DJ on xl102, and alternative station here in Richmond. Her career took her to Charlotte, then LA… and now she’s back in Richmond on 103.7 Play! She frequently shares cocktail recipes mixed with her own brand of snark on her stories on Instagram. She reminds me we aren’t alone in this suckfest! Follow her on IG @itstamotime.
  • Stella the Talking Dog
    • I can’t remember how I found out about @hunger4words, but I’m in love with Stella, the talking dog! Her mom is Christina Hunger, a speech language pathologist, who has been teaching Stella to use a communication board. I look forward to each post and watching Stella’s progress!

If you aren’t up to your usual fitness regimen, don’t fret. Except perhaps for the rare centenarians, no one alive right now has been through a pandemic like this. We are all treading in uncharted waters. At least allow some time to go outside and take in some nature. But otherwise, don’t put pressure on yourself. We’ve got enough to be stressed out about right now. I think exercise should be about relieving anxiety more than anything else while in quarantine, and that looks different for everyone.

Are you finding ways to stay active in quarantine? Do you follow anyone on social media that you find uplifting? I’d love to hear about it! Hope everyone is safe and healthy.

Published by annecreates

I am a physical therapist, wife, mom, runner, artist, and vegan. I'm passionate about helping others find wellness, speaking about the human experience, and in fighting for social justice. Assistant Coach for the Sports Backers Marathon Training Team. Current ambassador for: Boco Gear, SaltStick, SPIbelt, Goodr, Noxgear, and Switch4Good.

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