Fall brings many welcome changes – cooler weather, pumpkin-spiced everything, and the start of a new running season. Once the temperatures start to drop, road races across the country kick into high gear and joggers ratchet up their training with longer runs and more intense workouts. For many, this fall will be particularly exciting as various races that were cancelled due to COVID-19 are back on schedule.
With most places allowing people to enjoy outdoor activities without any COVID restrictions, it’s no wonder that runners have picked up the pace. Exercise in general is up 88% since the start of the pandemic, according to one study conducted by RunRepeat. In the same study, running is up 55% for those running three or more times a week, but a whopping 117% amongst runners who only run once or twice a week.
If you’re thinking of entering a marathon or even a 5K, you’re in good company. Thousands of runners have been marking time, waiting for race organizers to release their plans. As new runners plan for a race in 2021, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Invest in good running shoes. “Spend the money,” most running coaches say. It will help make your runs better and lessen your chance of injury. If possible, consult a retailer that specializes in running equipment – many times they will analyze your stride and make specific recommendations suited to your gait and build.
- Map out your training route. Know the safe areas and stay alert to conditions around you. But changing your routine is advised, both for safety and variety. Challenge yourself: don’t just run the flat routes. While more difficult, training on hills can make you stronger and faster.
- Get the right gear. You can easily download a free activity tracker or get a training watch. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just one that suits you now. Load up your favorite music and podcasts. If you can, invest in some wireless earbuds. And make sure you have a hat with a brim in case it rains when you run, and to protect your skin from the sun.
- Stay hydrated. A 3-mile run is much different from a 10-mile trek, so figure out when it’s comfortable to hold a water bottle in your hand (short runs) or use a hydration belt (long runs). Take some nutrition with you to fuel yourself – sport beans, energy chews or gels can keep you going.
- Train in all kinds of weather. Rain, snow, wind, heat…you never know what conditions race day will bring, so you want to make sure you’ve trained in every situation, so you are prepared.
- Schedule your training days and stick to them. Find a running partner and be accountable to each other.
There are lots of training regimens that can take you from the couch to a 5K in as little as 30 days. In this case, your goal may simply be to cross that finish line in an upright position. When you’re ready, you can run further and faster, and enter more challenging races: the Bay to Breakers Marathon in San Francisco, the Marine Corps Marathon, all the Walt Disney World runs, and even the New York City Marathon come to mind.
As you plan for public races, be sure to check out their COVID responses; some races require vaccinations or masks, many have changed their after-race celebrations, and a few have altered bag checks and spectator protocol. In fact, running a road race is a lot like planning for an IT disaster in the new era of ransomware and unprecedented climate change: you need to train differently, adjust your strategy, and prepare for the unexpected. When you think about IT disaster recovery preparedness, some similar principles apply:
- Get some advice – you don’t know what you don’t know, and best practices evolve as business changes. It’s critical to have an independent voice in your corner who can provide some tips on making your failover less painful and more efficient. Find a consultant (your IT “coach”) who knows your industry and your IT environment.
- Invest in your plan – evaluate and assess what your goal is and invest in the tools that will help you get there. You don’t need to overspend; just pay for what you need.
- Practice, practice, practice – yes, practice makes you and your team better. Practice your recovery plan in all types of situations so you are prepared for any disaster scenario. In the case of technology recovery, “practice, practice, practice” becomes “test, test, test.”
- Be accountable – don’t just “check the box.” Your customers, employees and stakeholders are counting on you to protect their best interests as well as your own. Go beyond the annual test and work in some of the newest challenges, such as ransomware and natural disasters you’ve never faced before – even if they are unusual for your area.
- Find your pace – assess the criticality of your applications and data and prepare a recovery plan that will suit the recovery objectives and priorities of your business. You don’t have to take on every aspect of digital transformation in one sitting; find a consultant who can map out a path that suits your budget and internal skill set.
- Lead the pack – don’t be content to watch everyone get back to business as usual while you’re still struggling to bring your systems back online. Get ahead of the game and build a comprehensive plan for IT resilience.
Whether you’re lacing up your shoes to run around your block or planning for your business to recover from a cyberattack, how you prepare matters. Ask for help. Identify and communicate your goals. Invest in your achievements. And don’t stand on the sidelines watching everyone else celebrate their success – lead that pack.