It has come time to suspend all the intraining training sessions. Last Tuesday night the Prime Minister implemented further restrictions on social distancing which have made continuing our sessions unviable. In particular that social sporting based activities be stopped and that any groups should be less than 10. Personal training has also been banned.
While these measures will have a significant effect on your running activity it does not mean that you should stop running. Running can be an important factor in maintaining your physical and mental health as well as your immunity to disease. The intraining coaches will continue to encourage and communicate with you through their training group pages. Please stay positive and stay connected. We will get through this tough time better if we do it together. In no time in history has society ever been better placed to cope with a worldwide pandemic.
I would just like to address some of the myths that have been going around regarding this virus.
- It is air born.
You can only catch the virus from an infected person by your mucosal membranes being exposed to droplets from their mucosal membranes. The physical distancing of 1.5M is recommended because if you are near an infected person and they sneeze or cough then droplets are less likely to cover the distance to your eyes, nose or mouth. Being around other people will not in itself cause you to catch the virus unless there is a transfer incident. This does not include breathing the air around other people.
- Face masks will prevent you from catching the virus:
Face masks are recommended for people with the virus so that if they cough their droplets will not spread to other people or other surfaces. The only advantage to wearing face masks to prevent catching the virus is that you may be less likely to touch your face. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) like face masks should be left available for health care providers who will be treating the infected and are at much greater risk of exposure.
- You can catch the virus from touching a surface with the virus:
The virus can continue to be active for a significant period of time, particularly on hard surfaces. That may occur if an infected person coughs on that surface or coughs on their hand before touching that surface. Just touching the surface will not give you the virus. Our skin is an amazing barrier to infection. The problem occurs when you touch an infected surface and then touch your face especially your eyes, nose or mouth. This is why frequent hand washing is such an effective measure at stopping you from getting infected. It is nearly impossible to avoid touching your face as the many meme’s of politicians telling us to stop touching our faces followed by them touching their faces can attest. You touch your face constantly without realising it as it is a subconscious habit. Washing hands frequently with soap or alcohol removes the virus if it is on your hands so that when you do touch your face it does not pass on the virus to you.
- Social distancing will flatten the curve, stop the virus and return us to normal quicker:
Social and physical distancing slows the exponential growth in cases so that we have fewer people at one time infected. That way our limited number of ICU beds and health facilities are not overwhelmed. Fewer people will die if we can give them the best medical treatment. While flattening the curve may slightly reduce the number of people who ultimately catch the virus it will not stop the virus from becoming endemic in the community. Flattening the curve if successful will also extend the duration of time we are dealing with the virus and the amount of time that social distancing and disruption of normal social and economic activity will last. Australia is doing a fairly good job of containing the growth rate of cases and we are looking at a minimum of 6 months of significant disruption. Herd immunity is our only chance of eventually getting back to our previous situation of free travel across international borders. Any country without herd immunity will be isolated indefinitely.
- It is a highly contagious and deadly virus:
The reason that this virus is so hard to contain is that it can be passed on before symptoms occur. The first symptoms may be a loss of taste and the start of a fever. This is then followed by coughing, sneezing and difficulty breathing. 8 out of 10 people who catch the virus have either mild symptoms or no symptoms. That is why the virus is so hard to contain. In Australia, we currently have around 2500 cases with only 8 deaths so far. If we continue to control the growth in cases and are able to offer the best medical treatment possible then we could possibly keep the death rate to under 1%. While any death is a tragedy this is comparable to the annual flu. Infection rates are hard to accurately identify without testing everyone in society. There is likely to be multiples more people in the world with the virus than have been positively tested. This is less likely in Australia which is why our death rate is so low. This virus also seems to affect younger people less so if you are young and fit your chances of having mild symptoms and surviving are very high.
If you look at the facts rather than the scaremongering then you can see some sign of optimism. We need to approach this crisis with a level head and a significant amount of empathy and generosity. Panic buying and hoarding does not help anyone and creates more anxiety and fear in society.
It is critical that we all follow the guidelines by Australia’s Chief Medical Officer. This now includes avoiding physical contact with others. That is why we must suspend our training sessions until we are given the go-ahead by the department of health to resume. Can I please ask that you also reduce informal gatherings for training and especially stop any group of more than 10 people? Your best option is to find one or two compatible training partners and do all training exclusively with them. Please remember that social distancing does not mean social isolation. We have so many ways to maintain contact with others, without needing a physical meeting, such as Strava, social media and video calls.
It is important that you continue training. At some point in the future, our races will return. If you have maintained fitness with a great base then you can come out of this crisis in the best shape ever.
Stay Positive, Be Patient, Stay Connected and Keep Running.
Steve Manning – intraining Coaching Director
Advice to National Cabinet:
Prime Ministers Statement 25 March: