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The Next Right Thing

Ed Kornoelje DO
Metro Health-University of Michigan Health Sports Medicine

OK—if you are a fan of Disney animation you will certainly recognize the title as one of the songs (and sayings) from Frozen II (yes—my wife and daughter and I just finished watching it—one of the benefits of staying home a bit more).  It reminded me of a book I read (and wrote about) several years ago: The Runner’s Rule Book by Mark Remy.  It has many “rules” for running—actually light-hearted tips to make running more fun—I highly recommend picking up a copy.  Here are a few that seem to be appropriate to discuss during this COVID-19 outbreak—and help us with the next right thing. First the rules, and then how they may help in this time of uncertainty.  And you may see this article pop up on a variety of platforms—we really want to get the information out!

Rule 1.11: Signing up for a race equals instant motivation.  Remy notes “…registering for an event 6 or 10 or 26 weeks down the road remains the single most foolproof way to motivate yourself to get out there and run day after day.”  

Rule 1.12: Do not tempt fate.  “Keep your wits about you.  Live to run another day.”

Rule 1.17: Look before you expel.  “…please make a good-faith effort to make sure the area immediately around you—experts call this the Loogie Radius—is reasonably clear of other before you spit, blow, or hawk.”

Rule 2.27: Run the mile you’re in.  “…it can be tempting to dwell on the total distance or on how far you are from the finish line.  Try not to. Instead, focus on the mile you’re running at that particular moment. Be mindful of the full distance, of course; mentally and physically, you should be aware of how far you’ve got to go.  Primarily, though, keep your head in the here and now.”  

And finally the Frozen II Rule:  Do the next right thing.  

Let’s take a look at of these in isolation and then put them all together for a great COVID-19 plan.  In regards to Rule 1.11 one question is why sign up for a race when all of the early spring races (and likely more) have been canceled and who knows when your next race will be?  For many of us having a schedule to follow helps us get outside (if able and allowed—and in most states right now even with many things shut down getting outside in a socially distant manner is OK) or on a treadmill to run.  Even if your race has been canceled or postponed, keep training to stay motivated, in shape and healthy—which really is the main goal. If training all out for a race that is on the schedule seems a bit much consider the following tweaks—cut back duration and/or intensity of plan by 20%, add more cross training, or work on building base miles in anticipation of starting fall race training in a few months.

Rule 1.12 (tempting fate) in this environment pertains to social distancing and non-group running—please don’t go out in groups and run right now!  It may seem a little dramatic to suggest that running in a group, even a small one, right now is “tempting fate,” but it is—either yours or someone you interact with.  We know that COVID-19 is extremely contagious and even small groups of people can become infected (sometimes without knowing it) and pass it on to others they come in contact with—think family.  So run alone or in pairs (three people max—six feet apart), and when done wash your clothes and body.

Rule 1.17 is pretty self-explanatory particularly in light of the contagious nature of COVID-19 and the fact that it is spread by respiratory droplets.  It is never good to spit on anyone, but for sure not now. And fortunately the Loogie Radius and social distancing are both about six feet.

Finally Rule 2.27 (and its corollary Frozen II) reminds us to run the mile we are in.  While it is a great idea to keep in mind all of the time, it seems particularly important right now.  No matter where you are living there is some sort of restriction in place, and most of us don’t know when it will end.  We know the end is out there somewhere, but looking for it can be a little daunting—figuring out what to do day by day often helps.  And applying the Frozen II Rule (do the next right thing) in this rapidly changing environment helps is discern the correct long-term plan by figuring out what to do next—a bunch of small right things in a row will lead to big right things!

So when we put this all together:  Exercise as if training for a race, but not in a large group or too close (Loogie Radius), stay in the moment, and as always do the next right thing!

At Metro Health-University of Michigan Health Sports Medicine we are following the state and federal COVID-19 directives.  To that end we are currently not seeing patients in the office, but have e-visits, phone visits, and soon (week of March 30) tele-visits.  If you are in need of our services call 252-1500 or 252-7778 and we will get something set up. As soon as we are able we will be open for in-person visits.  For sports medicine and COVID-19 information go to www.metrohealth.net .  We will all get through this together—keep your social distance and wash hands!

Be active (and well)!

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