What phase of the pandemic marathon are you on?

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics were postponed yesterday; the latest blow to team human in our fight against the Corona pandemic.

But the news got me thinking.

Elite athletes are known to be some of the most adaptable, resilient and mentally tough people in society; so what if we looked into some of their daily rituals and training tactics with the idea of applying them to our own Olympic level marathon, the one we’ve been running since December last year. The race against Covid-19.

Runtasic is a global blog (run) by Adidas to help people live a more happy and healthy life. It has stacks of tips and learnings for anyone interested in cardio, strength, nutrition and creating healthy daily habits. It also has a great app which tracks your runs and connects you with a great community – I use it every day!

One of the blogs I read was about how to prepare for a marathon. They’ve suggested it should be broken down into 7 phases.
Let’s take a look at how we can apply these phases to get a handle on our new reality of self-isolation and social distancing; how we might pace ourselves to remain mentally and physically in check.

Phase 1. HIGH

Marathon: The starting pistol is fired, the adrenaline is skyrocketing. After the seemingly endless prep time, you not only want to run off, but to give it your ALL. Every meter feels like a victory and smells like freedom. You’re experiencing a high. Other runners are sprinting past you, but you should go slowly. Pace yourself. Be patient. Don’t burn yourself out on the first few kilometers.
If your plan is to run an entire marathon in under or up to 4 hours, you should run at 75 to 80% of your max. heart rate.

Pandemic: Our ‘high’ is the late-night binge-watch of all government press conferences and inability to fall asleep without hitting refresh on the death toll. You might be running on adrenaline due to the sudden life changes but like the marathon, we should pace ourselves and listen to the government warnings: this might go on a while. If you burn yourself out with stress and too much change your immune system could be compromised. Keep up with the news cycle but do take time to switch off.


Marathon: You’re feeling fit and great while suppressing the thought of what’s still in front of you. You don’t think about the effort you’re still facing. Many runners automatically pick up their pace here – yet this is fatal. Remember you’ll need to tap into your energy reserves later on!

Pandemic: You’re starting to adjust to the new norm so feel relatively good. Don’t be blindsided in this phase by using all your reserves while you feel great. You’re probably getting more sleep than you have had in years (I am!) but store some of it … you never know when you might need it later down the track…


Marathon: You keep glancing at your reliable partner, the GPS watch, on a regular basis. Even if you’ve slowed down a bit, don’t panic! This section is decisive – you’ll notice whether you have enough energy left for the second half of the marathon or if you’ve already used up all your reserves. Keep calm, you still have time to make up time.

Pandemic: The adrenaline of the change is wearing off. You start to panic about finances and the future. Like the marathon, this time is decisive. Start to plan how you need to behave in order to complete the rest of the marathon.


Marathon: Now, the marathon starts messing with our heads. Despite all the other runners by your side, you feel alone. You start wondering why you actually signed up for this run, why you thought you’d be able to do this. You can’t stop thinking about what’s left of the race. Focus on running instead! Take one step after another and start fueling your body with power gels or bananas.

Pandemic: Time to be mentally tough. We start to feel alone and victimised. Why is this happening at this time in my life? It couldn’t be worse timing. You just started a business, were planning a wedding, you wanted to travel. You don’t have super. It’s bad timing for EVERYONE. We’re in this together so the focus needs to be on one step at a time, one day at a time. The most important task each day is just in staying healthy.


Marathon: Why?!, you think. Why am I doing this? Your first low-point. It’s around km 30 when most runners hit rock bottom. There’s still a significant distance to cover, yet your batteries are running low. Listen to your body and take walking breaks, if necessary. Try to keep your motivation up by thinking about the finish line, your friends waiting for you, the cheers and the joy.
Remember: One step at a time. This phase really shows who has mentally prepared to run a marathon.

Pandemic: How long is this going to go on?? I was getting things done at the beginning and now I’m wondering why I’m to bother. Who is reading this article? Why do I have to do daily chores? what’s the point? Think about the simple joys that’ll come back at the end of this. A swim at the beach, dancing in a club, having brunch with a group of friends at your favourite cafe. These things will come back and they’ll feel even sweeter when they do.


Marathon: The finish line comes within grasp and positive thinking has helped push through the lower points. If you still have the resources, step it up a notch. Your body is already overheated and your muscles will start hardening. Take small sips of isotonic drinks for a last kick of energy.

Pandemic: The curve is starting to flatten. There is some positive news so you have a new burst of energy that life will go back to normal. Use this to stay positive and plan for the future. It’s close.

Phase 7. CHANGE

Marathon: You did it! The last few kilometers are a mix of extreme fatigue, joy, exhaustion, pushing through and motivation. When they hang the medal around your neck, you’ll think: “I’ll never do this again. Ever.” Take a few deep breaths, wrap yourself in a coat, fill up with electrolyte drinks and shake and stretch your feet. As soon as your sore muscles feel normal again – usually after a couple days – you might find yourself thinking about the next marathon again. And about how much you want to improve your time.

Pandemic: It’s over! We’re suddenly more thankful for our life and count our blessings. We see people we haven’t in so long. We’re kinder to strangers at the supermarket and we have a new appreciation for our life and our health.

We will live with gratitude for our health workers, our bus drivers, our council cleaners, our teachers, our hospitality workers – and everyone else who is part of this society.


Hang in there everyone.