Running & Parenting in a Pandemic
Now that you’ve stocked up on groceries, mentally prepared for the kids being home for several weeks, coveted the world’s last toilet paper rolls, and had your race canceled—now what??
Running and parenting during this pandemic, you need to take extra good care of yourself (and your family). There is so much uncertainty with this dangerous and fast-spreading disease, you can’t be too cautious. I’m not one to get freaked out by the news. I worked in the news business; I know how we can exaggerate things. But this is different. Obviously. Now we must try our best to live our lives while being smart and staying healthy. I hope this article helps.
First thing’s first. Here’s a brush-up on the coronavirus:
What is the coronavirus?:
Coronaviruses are an extremely common cause of colds and other upper respiratory infections. COVID-19, short for “coronavirus disease 2019,” is the official name given by the World Health Organization to the disease caused by this newly identified coronavirus.
What is the fatality rate?:
Currently, it is about 3 percent, ten times as deadly as the flu. But those numbers could change since the availability of tests is limited. That could result in fewer identified cases, making it seem as though a larger percentage of infections are fatal.
What are the symptoms?:
The symptoms that seem to appear within 2-14 days are fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath. If you, or a loved one, experience these symptoms, call your doctor. The illness can last for two months. For more info, visit the CDC website.
How is the virus transmitted?:
You can catch COVID-19 from other sick people and on surfaces. Thus, it’s important to note it’s not thought to be airborne like initially believed. If a person coughs or sneezes and you inhale those secretions, you could get sick. If a person cries and you touch their tears and then your face, you could get sick. If you touch a surface with the virus on it and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth, you could get sick (but the risk from infected surface contact is believed to be lower). Avoid touching your face! The virus is thought to live for hours to days on surfaces. There is a small chance you get sick from people not yet showing symptoms. Find more info here and here. To learn the do’s and don’t’s of social distancing, read this.
Who does it affect?:
COVID-19 is thought to hit those with compromised immune systems, particularly the elderly, the hardest. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like chronic bronchitis, emphysema, heart failure, or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. Children can get it, but children without underlying conditions seem to have milder symptoms. Also, of note, a study of 9 pregnant women in China with COVID-19 all delivered healthy babies.
So, what can you do? Keep your immune system strong and your brain sane.
Running is key to stress relief. If there is any plus side to this pandemic, it is that it has stripped away the pressure of PRs so that we can focus on why we fell in love with running in the first place: it makes us feel good! So, run! Run for fun. Run for clarity. Run for freedom. Keep to your training plan. But don’t overdo it. Don’t do 20+ mile long runs. Don’t run faster than 75 percent effort. Don’t run in wet, cold, or rainy weather. This can all suppress your immune system. Avoid running in crowds or at gyms. Do strides and drills to maintain leg turnover and form. If you have a coach, ask them to adjust your schedule to lighten the load and intensity. Also instead of cross-training or strength-training at the gym, consider the power of your smartphone. Some apps like The Daily Burn have a 30-day free trial. The yoga app, Down Dog, is currently free during this COVID-19 crisis. YouTube Yoga, Yoga with Adriene, is always free!
Your race was canceled. You trained hard for it. It stinks! But because your race was canceled doesn’t take away all you gained through your training cycle—fitness, fun, community. You are a better and stronger runner because of your hard work! And, you can still race. Think about doing a time trial or run a virtual race. Most importantly, keep your eyes ahead and chin up. There will be more races. As one mother runner put it, “I’m grateful I’m healthy enough to complain about not running a race.”
It is so important to eat healthily and hopefully, you’ve mastered this during your training. But there are some
immune-boosting foods you can eat more of. Nutritionist Betsy Johnson says to eat more citrus fruits, garlic, broccoli, salmon, watermelon, broccoli, red bell peppers, ginger, spinach, yogurt, almonds, turmeric, and green tea. “Eating foods rich in antioxidants and vitamins like C and E can help build up your immunities. Include a healthy mix of fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and some of the foods I listed, and you will be on your way to keeping your body healthy,” Betsy explained.
Take your vitamins.
Be sure to take your vitamins! Vitamin C and D are key to keeping your immune system strong. Echinacea and elderberry can help, too. Some brands to look for include Zarbees, Airborne, and Super Lysine.
Don’t skimp on it! If you have a choice between running and sleeping, choose sleep. Sleep is critical for a strong immune system by producing inflammation-fighting protein called cytokines. It is recommended that we get 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night, or more. Naps are good too! Learn more here.
Entertain and educate your kids.
First off, if you want help talking to your kids about COVID-19, here’s a good guide. Or, check out this puppet show. Now, what to do during the next several weeks when we don’t have the luxury of going to popular kid play places? Go for hikes. Go for walks. Play at parks. Explore the great outdoors. If you go to a playground, keep your social distance (6 feet) from people and sanitize hands during play and after. Do GoNoodle and Cosmic Kid Yoga
Practice some home-schooling with educational sites like time4learning, ABCmouse, and ABCya. (You can get a good round-up on homeschool sites here.) Order some workbooks from Amazon or print worksheets from sites like k5learning.com, greatschools.org, or education.com. Instagram accounts @busytoddler and @dayswithgrey have great activities for toddlers. Ask your kid’s teacher for guidance on what to practice. Also, check out these great suggestions on how to get into a good routine while home with the kids.
And, plan to lighten up on screen time restrictions. Even the AAP said it’s expected (and okay) to watch more screens during this time. Some recommended non-educational and educational shows include WordParty, Ask the StoryBots, Octonauts, Bluey and Wild Kratts (or everything PBS Kids offers).
Work from home with kids.
Many of us are going to try working from home for the first time with kids at home, too. I worked from home full-time with my kids home (mostly) full-time until this past fall. It wasn’t easy but it was possible. I squeezed in my job responsibilities while they slept, made messes, or watched screens. Moms rocking working from home with kids say to engage kids in your work by giving them “work” they can do with you. Also, go outside and burn energy early in the morning and spend quality time together before your afternoon work begins. Set expectations early on and be flexible. Also, rotate toys, set up arts and crafts projects, and put out puzzles for times you need little disturbance.
Also, if you can afford it, hire a nanny, tutor, or a neighborhood kid you trust to play with or teach your kids while you work. I would sometimes hire a “mommy helper”—a 12-year-old girl who would play with my kids while I had client calls in the next room. Some high schools have required volunteer hours so these kids may be looking to help for free. Check your local high school website for more info. Here are some helpful work from home with kids tips.
It also goes without saying to wash and sanitize your hands and your kids’ hands like crazy. Use rubbing alcohol and aloe or lotion if you’re out of sanitizer. Buy into the social distance recommendation by staying away from lots of people. Don’t touch your face! And, give your loved ones grace. It is a time of heightened stress and shortened tempers. This may be a great opportunity to practice deep breathing or start meditating like you’ve always wanted using apps like Calm or Headspace.
It’s important to lighten up at times. Call or Marco Polo friends and family. Watch funny shows like “The Office”, “Parks and Rec”, and “I’m Sorry.” Drink a glass of wine. Read stuff that’s not about coronavirus. Listen to Taylor Swift (or whatever makes you move). My husband and I haven’t watched a movie in forever, but we may just have to break out our favorites like “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” Read this round-up of sassy things kids have said to have a good belly laugh.
Finally, go for a run—for your mental and physical health. These are unprecedented times. Running can break the tension and, most importantly, help us move forward.