by Emma Joseph…
Running with friends has been one of my favorite things about running and being a part of a team always kept me motivated. Like many seniors around the world, the pandemic has led to an unexpected early retirement from our sports. It’s a lot tougher to motivate myself to go on runs alone and without races to work towards. While it is nice to have the option now to skip a day, it has become a little too easy to fall into unhealthy patterns. For the first time, I have been navigating how to motivate myself without the support of a team and create a routine for myself that prioritizes running. Going on runs and getting outside has been a great way to clear my mind which is why it’s been especially important to me now.
Even though we are socially distancing right now, this time has shown us how to feel connected in new ways. Strava has been a great tool for maintaining a sense of community while running alone. Strava is a fitness social network where users can share their runs, as well as other activities like biking and swimming. People often include a short description and sometimes a photo from their activity and give “kudos” (their equivalent of likes) to other people’s posts. My friends’ posts have made it felt like we are still running together even when apart and its a great way to stay in touch. While recently I haven’t been running as much as I’d like to be, seeing my friends’ Strava activity inspires me to keep going. Especially on days where its cold or raining, and I really don’t feel like going outside, seeing my friends share that they went for a run anyways pushes me to go for a run too.
As in-person races have been canceled, virtual races have been gaining more traction. While virtual races have been around, they’ve become more popular as they’ve become the only option for those still looking to compete. For virtual races, people compete remotely and log their results online. A friend and former teammate of mine shared with me the info for the “Bigfoot…The Social Distancing Champion’s Running Challenge” which is raising money for food banks across the country. Another event is raising money for the CDC Foundation’s Coronavirus Emergency Response Fund. Registering for a race is a great way to set goals and feel a part of a community while also supporting great charities.
One New York Times article described running as “the perfect sport for a pandemic”. I am grateful that I can still run during this time and I am lucky to have a sport that I can keep doing post-grad (or pre-grad limbo). It’s nice to spend more time in my neighborhood after not being home as much these past few years. Lately, I have been running a lot of the same routes I used to do with my team in high school which has been a great way to bring back a lot of good memories. While some parks are closing, the roads are still open. People have also been getting creative with new social distancing rules.
In France where people were asked to stay indoors, one man ran a marathon on his balcony! While I don’t see myself finding the will to take on a marathon right now (from a balcony or otherwise), it’s a testament to people’s ingenuity and determination at this time. As cabin fever gets more intense, running can be a great way to take care of our minds and get outside our houses.