Running in 2020 = Chachachanges.
I originally wrote this post as an article for the Central Maine Striders Newletter this month, but I also wanted to update and bring it over to Time to Run Again as well.
Think for a minute – we all probably had goal races, big plans and were going to accomplish many of our running goals in 2020.
My goals in 2020 were to race more than I have in a long time, well as long as the old body held up to the demands of training for an October 18th super-secret race. Unfortunately, back in March most of us to be blunt had to threw most everything out the window when…
The Coronavirus pandemic happened.
Which largely ended many of our plans for spring racing. Probably summer and many fall races are also going to be casualties of COVID-19. The idea of virtual racing is rather meh and for me not a great substitute for being there, competing with and enjoying commaradiere of other runners.
The other issue is the side of running that many of us embrace and didn’t notice how much we missed, until we were not allowed to meet up with our training partners, running buddies, and confidants (we talk about so many things when running together).
We have learned that racing and running with others is not guaranteed and can be quickly taken away by events beyond our control.
Yep, needless to say that all sucks!!!
All those plans, goals and motivation to run – gone…so what are we supposed to do now?
Keep running of course!
Learn to embrace running mostly solo again and maybe even look at our running a little more closely to see what improvements we can make to our running.
Enough whining about COVID 19, it is here, we are dealing with it the best we can and we have choices:
- Sit on the couch, watch TV, drink adult beverages, mash chips, whoopie pies or other great tasting stuff into our pie holes, add on a lot of lardage, continue to whine and complain about how unfair life is and sulk because we can’t go running or participate in races.
- Just keep training for the races and in the vague hope that they happen.
- We can keep running and work on building a base, improving our weaknesses, staying healthy, and focus more on simply running to have fun.
If you are reading this blog post and are a runner, #1 is not the answer you are looking for.
#2 is appealing to many of us. Continue to train for races for however many months while thinking in the back our minds that they will probably be canceled or turned into virtual races is counter-productive. It will probably only result in injury or burn-out.
Although I am hopeful that there might be some smaller local races allowed in the fall.
For me, the choice was easy #3 – working to improve myself as a runner.
Base Building – Building a good mileage base is crucial for running better – just the way it is. Especially since there is no pressure to perform or get ready for a race anytime soon. We can increase our mileage to higher levels without the usual do too much too fast and finally get off the injured merry-go-round that many of us ride.
Weaknesses – We all have them. Whether it is strength training, yoga, pre and post-run routines, improving running form, our diet, learning new training methods, researching changing running shoes and learning more about the mental side of running.
In the past we always complained about so much to do and so little time…well we have a little more time now to take a look at those weaknesses and make changes or turn them into strengths.
Staying Healthy – Running helps to improve our health both physically and mentally. However, in these uncertain times, too much of a good thing can also be detrimental to our health. This is probably not the time to be doing Yasso 800s, 20+ mile training runs, 12×400 at mile race pace, or any of those myriads of workouts we runners do that leave us totally drained and may weaken our immune system at a time when we need it to be at its best.
Personally, I have taken the conservative approach and have limited my mileage to 25-35 miles a week, with most of the runs at the comfortable effort level, not a certain pace. Once or twice a week, I do a comfortably hard run, but very little running at harder paces. Also, I have limited my longer runs to 6-8 miles. Could I do more – sure, but at this point, I want to be healthy more than I want to increase my speed or mileage.
When I decide it is time to increase my base mileage I can do it intelligently and still be healthy.
Having Fun – Now is a great opportunity to simply let our running become fun again. How many of us take our running so seriously that we forget that for most of us running is not our day job and we need to look closer at why we run.
Many of us need to make changes to make running a more positive part of our lives. We plan, tinker, read about, study our training logs for trends, pour over graphs, charts and summaries of our recent efforts and we forget that our running is supposed to be something we enjoy…yeah fun, not yet another stressor in our lives.
Think about it, when was the last time you were out on a run where you stopped, looked around and thought to yourself “How lucky I am to be out doing this thing that I love!” Then laughed out loud at yourself and sheepishly looked around quickly to see who saw you laughing. Even if someone was looking at you with one of those WTFO looks, it still felt great to think how lucky we are to be able to run
Watch children run. They do not run hunched over, their faces grim and focused on the ground in front of them as they gasp for air – you know like the guy in the photo below.
They run with joy, giggles and abandonment that we have forgotten. Their heads are up, big grins and lots of laughter and yes, they do suddenly stop to look at the butterfly flitting around their heads or the thing crawling around on the grass. Maybe we need to lighten up and find some of that joy in our running and make running fun again.
Change up where you run if you can. Run someplace new, a different course. If you primarily run on the roads, maybe attempting some easier trails, barefoot strides on grass, running at different times of the day, doing a scavenger hunt while running, stopping to take photos of odd, unusual or stunningly gorgeous scenes that you will see. There are many things that we can do while we are running to make it seem less like drudgery and more fun.
No, it does not always mean to be plugged into your music playlist either, it might be time to listen to nature’s music.
The reality is that
Runners run for many reasons and having the motivation of an upcoming race is great, however, not being able to race is not the end of our running journey, despite what some might think or say. We are part of a larger running community that supports and helps each other with our running and often beyond running.
At some point the pandemic will be under control enough so that racing and our training for those goals we have will return, but until it does we can keep running and smile more. Remember to stop in the middle of a run to smell the roses and then look around thinking about the idea that “I get to run, versus I have to run” and yes, running can be fun.
If it has been a while since you thought about why you run and if you enjoy your running, you might want to think about what running really means to you. Running should not be another chore that we dread simply to get ready for another race – a means to an end.
Who knows maybe you will be like me and get to train for that super double-secret race too.
However, no matter what happens, I will smile more often while I get to run.
Stay safe and be well