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How Running Kept Me Sane During a Pandemic

I often find myself drifting in my thoughts and going, “how the heck is it December already .... where did the time go!” Yes, it’s obvious that time doesn’t stand still, even in a pandemic, but with everything that has gone on this year it’s difficult to comprehend that we have actually made it to the end of it! My next thought is then – HOW!?

For me, it’s a quite a simple answer to that question – what kept me sane through the craziest time we have all ever experienced, in other words, a global pandemic? The answer is 'running'.

Running was that one thing that, above all else, was the ultimate and best escape from whatever was happening around us. I have not always been a runner and quite frankly, I struggled, and still struggle to run 5km’s on a bad day. Yet, it still left my mind clearer, with the most pumped up endorphins when I was done. Whatever the distance, whatever the pace.

Yes, we were not always allowed on the streets, and no, I was not one of those folk running around my apartment in countless circles to complete the 'Virtual Two Oceans Marathon'. But, best believe when that very first 06h00 to 09h00 exercise window opened, I was laced up and waiting at the door at 05h59. That didn’t come without its adjustments as well – I mean, running with a mask that is blocking my already intermittent breathing patterns was not easy, or fun. However, being back on the road, no matter how slow and steady - that was an absolute game changer for me.

Being released from the confinement of my apartment, and exposed to some fresh air really does the mind and body so much good. It was the perfect start to the day, the perfect way to clear my mind, to reset from the day before, and to tackle whatever came my way for the rest of that day that followed. I missed my running crew terribly, but being out on the streets seeing the copious amounts of fellow runners with that little wave, or nod, or look that said “keep pushing” or “you got this” made up for that lack of my usual running mates. I turned my newfound friends on the road into my motivation for getting out there every day. And no doubt that is what got me through those first few months of not being able to reunite with my crew.

I asked a few of my crew members what running meant for them during this crazy time, we all seemed to be on the same page with how running made us feel:

Running has always been a hobby. I get lost in my thoughts and run away my problems. Running during lockdown was more intentional. Not only was it an escape from the four walls we were confined to, but it was to keep sane and see faces, smiles, receive a wave, anything beyond the confinement. – Nomsa

Running meant I can get to step out of my room and get to see other people. Made me feel human for a little bit. – Pax

In a time when there was a lot of unknowns, anxiety, stress and excessive snacking?? Running and exercise became a constant, it allowed me to escape from reality (and the walls of my house). I found after a run I was refreshed and more productive and through this constant training I was able to push myself to new limits / I surprise myself with new records. - Nicole

Running allowed me to get free from the confines of the lockdown impositions by letting me experience the outdoors on my own terms and pace. - Justin

Working from home and taking care of a toddler made me appreciate going for run even more ... the fresh air and sunlight gives me a much needed boost of energy and mental wellbeing. – Zulfah

Running was an escape while being trapped in lockdown. It was a way to focus on something other than being stuck in one place. Running in my front yard, in circles, felt like I was running for miles. - Amy

Running can mean many different things to different people–an escape, a commitment to hold yourself accountable for a weight loss strategy, a mechanism to keep yourself sane through a pandemic, whatever it maybe my advice is just to get out there and give it a try, if you haven’t already. No matter how slow, no matter how fast–give it a go! If it can keep you sane during a pandemic, just imagine all the additional benefits it can have for you as well.


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