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Avid runners’ mileage is on the decline

Exercise has increased by 88 per cent during the COVID-19 pandemic, but despite this, avid runners are hitting the trails less

If you look at your Instagram feed, it seems that COVID-19 has produced a population of bread-making and TikTok dancing runners who are passing the time by getting outside and eating well. While we don’t have the numbers on the bread-making and dancing, we do have the numbers on running, and they’re up big time when it comes to new runners.

RunRepeat.com did a study on exercise during the pandemic, they found that people are exercising way more than ever, especially when it comes to new runners. However, they also found that while new runners are hitting the trails up to 205 per cent more than before, avid runners are running roughly 13 per cent less. Here’s a look at why this is happening.

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Running is easily accessible, especially now

Everyone is a runner now. With the good weather upon us and gyms closed, even the most reluctant have taken to the heel-toe express. This is likely why RunRepeat found that people who used to run once a week have tripled that number, and those running two or three times a week are getting on the trails more often as well.

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This increase caught the eye of World Athletics, who will attempt to capitalize on this new group of avid runners. Sebastian Coe included these prospective fans in the WA strategic plan. He told Inside the Games, “We have continued to engage with our community through the innovative Athletics@Home and the Ultimate Garden Clash projects, and we will soon launch a campaign to encourage and assist those who have discovered our sport through running during lockdown to continue to stay fit and healthy as the world emerges from the pandemic.”

Where the downward trend begins

However, once you enter the avid running category (folks who previously ran four or more times a week) you start to see a small drop off in participation.

This drop off could be due to the fact that more is expected of them at home, time is limited and, frankly, motivation could dwindle in these strange times. With the spring and summer calendar eliminated and the fall calendar looking unlikely, the races that runners were training for are no longer there. People run for lots of reasons, but avid runners who were competition-oriented have had to reset their focus. That reset may (rightfully) have included a drop in mileage to keep training sustainable.

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Don’t feel badly if your mileage has decreased

If your mileage is on the rise and you’re feeling strong and healthy, kudos. However, if you’ve found yourself struggling with motivation and choosing to decrease miles for the time being, this is also a reasonable (in fact, possibly a healthier) approach. With start lines far away, take some time to cross train more and take a little time to work on strength training, both of which can help get you to your next start line healthy and fast.