Fri. Oct 30th, 2020

What Covid-19 has taught me about running

4 min read

It’s an understatement to say the Covd-19 has changed the world we know it. Many people amongst us has struggled to get through the changes and restriction placed on our normal lives. The world of running hasn’t been immune with the pandemic interrupting everything from the races we train for to even solo runs being limited or in some countries prohibited.

I’ve been very fortunate to live in an area where the restrictions placed have not stopped me running. Being able to run and enjoy my normal exercise routine has been particularly beneficial in a troubling time.

Running through this time has allowed me to look inward and reconnect to the purpose I place running in my life. Covid has stopped me racing but taught me much about my running.

Routine is Important

When restrictions hit in my country races in the immediate future were cancelled and postponed. I like most runners train to race and focus my training blocks around the races I schedule for myself. When the races I had scheduled were postponed I immediately had a void in my training that was left unfulfilled.

The immediate reaction even subconsciously was to skip the odd run. It’s raining this morning, I’m not going running in that weather. My sleep was disturbed, surely an extra hour of sleep is more of a priority that an hours run if there’s no races to drive me. It took me a couple of weeks to adjust and realise that the routine of my daily run is not just important for my goal race but helps me through every other challenge I face in life.

I set myself the goal of running every day and running for 100 days in a row (which ultimately I failed at on day 78 when torrential rain won the day). With my daily habit of waking early and going running restored I was back in my flow. I didn’t need a race to train for, this short-term goal was enough and running felt no different.

The routines we have in our life play different roles for all of us. When I took running away even sporadically it affected my mood and personal relationships. The routine of running helps me be the best person I can be.

Solitude is bliss

When you run alone often you understand the solitude that running provides. When you are forced to run by yourself you either fall in love with the bliss of solitude or need the connectedness of your group runs.

For me I find the solitude of running my favourite part of my day. It’s my space away from the rest of the world. It’s me and the sound of the thoughts in my head. Often, I run with music or podcasts in my ears and equally as often I run without, listening to my breathing and foot fall and sounds of my surrounds. This is everything I need for my running and lets my appreciate everything I have in my life that covid-19 can’t take away from me. Running is certainly one of those.

What covid-19 has done is reinforce the joy I find in the solitude of my running. While racing and connecting to others while running is something I still look forward to, the solitude from running is something I’ll always look forward to and be grateful for.

Aerobic improvement is inevitable

What covid-19 has allowed is for a consistent approach to training for both myself and the runners I help. Without races there is less of a need to rush progress and taking a longer-term view of improving aerobic fitness has seen the ability to improve over time.

For the runner who is disciplined and committed to their training improve aerobic fitness is inevitable. The headline of this section may be slightly misleading. If you are haphazard with your training or focus on the wrong energy system, aerobic fitness won’t improve. For the runner who chooses and commits to building aerobic fitness over a long block of training improvement is inevitable.

What I’ve seen in myself and other runners in this period is if you focus primarily on improving aerobic fitness it will take time to improve before the gains begin to accelerate. I’m confident when races come around, there can be a quick transition into a successful race specific training.

Since Covid-19 I have further learned the purpose running has in my life. I am a better person for my daily routine of running. Living a healthy life and practising healthy habits is most important to providing that sense of purpose. These practises have allowed me to continue to seize control of life through a difficult period.

My goal is to maintain this level of control and life (and running) return to ‘normal’ whenever and whatever that turns out to be. I hope the same for you in your own journey.

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