What Did You Do During The Downtime?

This year, many of us will be facing an unexpected, and perhaps unwelcome, period of extra free time.

Whether you’re suddenly working fewer hours, or find yourself stuck at home, life has likely been upended.

Plans, vacations, and – of course – races have all been scuppered by external events imposed on us.

And while the future remains highly uncertain regarding if and when normality will ever return, we can choose to think about how best to spend the time in front of us right now.

Rather than repeat the latest medical advice and projections that are flying around the internet, today I thought I’d offer some thoughts on goals, races, and how to think about the time you’ve been given.

What Did You Do During The Downtime? 1
Stuck indoors? Time to pivot.

Throwing Out Old Goals

If you’re a regular reader of this blog there’s a good chance your 2020 race has been canceled or postponed, maybe in the final weeks of your training.

At the same time, you may be suddenly finding yourself confined to the indoors – whether self-imposed or otherwise – with little chance to get outside and run.

Not only have your race plans been wrenched out from under your feet, you’ve probably also lost the ability to go out a run.

Which sucks.

Running isn’t just about getting ready for your next race. It’s about staying fit, having personal time, working on yourself, and doing a therapeutic activity time.

And now you find yourself less, or not at all, able to run.

It could go on for months.

The question is, how are you going to react?

Seeing The Opportunity In Newly Available Time

Most of us are facing some combination of the following factors:

  • Your current race / goal has been canceled due to external events.
  • You can’t go running – at least not as freely as before.
  • You’ve got unplanned additional time on your hands.
  • You don’t know how long all this is going to last.

As any good stoic would tell you, the situation in front of us – while undeniably tragic – is also ripe with opportunity.

In years to come, this may be a period where people look back and recount the unexpected stories of compassion, human triumph, and underdog success stories.

Just look at the number of game-changing businesses born during recessions for evidence of opportunity in turbulence and hardship.

What Did You Do During The Downtime? 2

What You Can Do

Be Of Service

For those of us fortunate to be healthy and able, the best way you can spend free time is to be of service.

Whether it’s by looking after elderly relatives and neighbors, doing chores for those who can’t, or donating time, money, and resources to relevant causes.

Selfishly, being of service to those who need it feels undeniably good.

When we get to the other end of this tough time, you’ll likely be most proud of the actions you took which helped others.

Exercise for Physical and Mental Wellbeing

Helping yourself is arguably as important as helping others – you need to be fit, strong, and capable before you can be of service. You also want to at least maintain your fitness levels.

And while your running may be curtailed, being stuck indoors is actually no excuse for not doing exercise each day.

There’s a slew of home workout videos on Youtube to follow, including this one.

Likewise, you can commit to completing a daily challenge. There’s all kinds of online daily challenges available – and more popping up every day.

Join our Daily Plank Challenge over on our FB group, or join my SPAR 100 push-ups every day challenge (iPhone users only).

Set a New Exercise Goal

So your race has been postponed or canceled, and you’re left feeling like you’ve been robbed of the goal you’ve been training for.

In these times, it can help to pivot and aim for a completely new physical goal – one which you can complete from home.

Here are some ideas I’ve picked up from friends and community members online:

  • Train to do a handstand, then progress to walking on hands. (Start with practicing handstands against the wall, then do handstand push-ups, then alternative hand lifts while in handstand, then stand to move away from the wall).
  • Work on flexibility and core strength. Runners are often an unbalanced lot – all that mileage tends to shorten and tighten a lot of those muscles around the pelvis and hip area, and these weaknesses are actually responsible for a huge percentage of all running injuries. Adopt a new training programme, focussing on daily stretching, foam rolling, and flexibility. Online yoga classes are perfect for this.
  • Move to the treadmill or stationary bike. Maintain your cardio fitness by moving your training onto indoors equipment, and setting yourself goals of training for hours on end.

Do That One Thing You’ve Always Wanted To

Everyone has a few ideas of things they’d love to pursue, if only they had a little more time. It’s the kind of thing that appears on your New Year’s Resolution list, then disappears when you realise it’s too big a commitment.

It might be learning a language, tackling an epic book, or starting a passion project.

Well guess what?

Now you’ve got the time.

Remember that in years to come, people may ask you what your life was like during the 2020 downtime.

Picture yourself replying “I finally learned Spanish“, or “I turned the garden into a vegetable patch“, or “I wrote a manuscript I’d had in my head for years.

Whatever it is, you’ve now got the time.

Become A Better Runner

Even if you’re stuck indoors, you can always be working on your running game.

I’m currently offering 30% discount on all our books and courses to everyone stuck at home – just use the code LOCKDOWN at checkout.

Need to light a fire under your run training?

Try our 7 Day Motivation and Mindset Challenge – designed to give you that boost!

7 Day Motivation

Got a Marathon on the horizon?

Join our flagship course, the Marathon Training Masterclass, and nail those 26.2 miles!


Progressing to the world of ultras?

Sign up for the Ultra Runner’s Playbook – specially designed for Endurance Monsters!

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Use the code LOCKDOWN for 30% the above courses today.

How are you planning to spend this period of unexpected downtime?

Thomas Watson

Thomas Watson

Thomas Watson is an ultra-runner, UESCA-certified running coach, and the founder of MarathonHandbook.com. His work has been featured in Runner's World, Livestrong.com, MapMyRun, and many other running publications. He likes running interesting races and good beer. More at his bio.

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