There are a lot of runners who will tell you that one activity they sorely miss doing during this pandemic is training with a group, and we can’t blame them. Running with a group has, after all, built the friendly Pinoy Fitness Community as we know it, today.
Before the pandemic hit and the lockdown implemented, parks were always filled with teams of runners who, shoes laced and spread out in a circle or line, would be getting their round of warm-ups done before they head out for their long distance or tempo runs. Sometimes, you’ll even get to spot them in action, all lined up huffing and puffing after their coaches and pacers with a pair or several breaking away to stick to their own ‘chika’ pace.
For a while now, and as we approach one whole year since the Philippines first went under lockdown, it’s beginning to feel like these things are so far out of our reach. Add to that the ever lingering anxiety of going outdoors on your own and getting close to other people; it makes you wonder if we’ll ever get to experience running as we did before.
Will we ever get to run and feel safe while doing so with a group, let alone race?
Reviving in-person group runs
Runners are not invulnerable to despair, much like any other. But given how headstrong we are, it may as well seem so. And it’s because of that same persistence that you can count on the running community to recover, albeit with much changes, what we lost to the pandemic.
Where once we saw on-ground running events, we now see more virtual races and online fitness events popping up everywhere. But more of those ‘new normal’ fitness trends, thankfully, didn’t spell out the total loss of on-ground and in-person training.
This is true for the case of one of the biggest running groups in the country Adidas Runners Manila (ARM), to whom we reached out for their best practices in organizing group runs amid the pandemic and lockdown. Curious as we are to find out their secrets, we asked Coach Nylah Bautista, Lead Coach at ARM to answer a few questions about organizing – or even joining – a group run in these times.
What common fears or concerns do you usually encounter from runners who want to join your running sessions and how do you address them?
Coach Nylah: [The] major concerns are about safety and security. [There is] fear of getting the virus as you run with other people and make your bubble bigger, [so] we have a questionnaire and tracing protocols for everyone’s compliance before joining any of our group events.
How do you communicate your schedules? Are there any specific platforms you use to gather their information and course through important announcements?
Coach Nylah: We have our Adidas Runners Manila community page with more than 6,500 active members. We announce all events, workouts and group run sessions via our official page.
What is the maximum attendance rate you allow at ARM that could make for a big enough group, but not so big that you can’t comply with physical distancing protocols?
Coach Nylah: ARM strictly follows IATF (inter-agency task force) rules of having a maximum of 10 people for group training sessions. We respect and adhere to government-mandated rules on sports and training sessions, since they have experts who thought about these guidelines and protocols for the safety of everyone.
Subsequently, how do you manage situations where you have a lot of interested runners (let’s say about 30 runners) who want to join your running sessions?
Coach Nylah: To address the clamor of our members for group runs, ARM created several pocket run sessions in various places like BGC (Bonifacio Global City), UP (University of the Philippines) and Alabang. This, in turn, made it more convenient for our active members to join a small group nearest to their home. We also pick a route which is less crowded so we can cover more distance in a safe environment.
Are there any specific requirements that go on top of usual guidelines like the wearing of face masks and shields, and others?
Coach Nylah: First they must be in the pink of health to do physical activities. We strictly follow the Mask On policy at all times even when running.
There was an announcement issued by the World Health Organization… that wearing a mask while running can reduce the ability to breathe comfortably plus the sweat from the mask promotes the growth of microorganisms.
However, as part of safety measures, we still wear masks, manage the running pace and make sure to maintain a physical distance of one meter apart from fellow runners.
Do you have any advice or words of encouragement you’d like to share with those who would like to organize their own local community group runs at this moment?
Coach Nylah: We all have to move and keep ourselves fit and healthy especially [during] this pandemic. By now, we have adjusted to embrace new lifestyle changes in the way we do fitness through indoor virtual sessions which provide motivation to workout at our most convenient place and time.
Running outdoors and running with a group will always be more enjoyable but please keep your group small, wear your mask, observe proper protocols and consciously practice social distancing for your safety and others.
Let’s all be responsible to do our part in preventing the spread of this deadly virus.
Make sure to tune in via the Adidas Runners Facebook page and join the Adidas Runners Manila’s Facebook group to stay up-to-date on their running and other workout schedules. Registration is totally free and open to anyone who would like to join.