First they came for the pubs, I didn’t say anything because I didn’t drink. Then they came for the Restaurants and I didn’t say anything because I didn’t go out to eat. Then they came for the gyms, but there was no one left to speak out for me.
It was a good joke and got a few laugh when I cited it around a fortnight ago to friends and family, the day the government announced they are going to close down all the gyms to combat Covid 19. The truth was, for many gym and fitness addict such as myself, it was a bitter pill to swallow. To gym rats, going two straight days without a training session, makes us feel physically deflated. It’s a mental unlocking, where you feel weak and end up hating looking in the mirror. The indefinite suspension of gyms without a clear date of when it will open, left us worried about our gains, our mental health and that summer body we all prepare to sculpt, like every year.
Very quickly, free weights, resistance bands, dumbbells and literally every other home workout equipment you could think off, started selling out online. Thanks to this new fitness craze that has hit people in the past five years. Many were ahead of the game and knew exactly what to do and order.
I had a few resistance bands at home but that’s a story for another blog. I guess my falling grace in all of this, was the fact that the government allowed us to go outside once a day for exercise. This meant, I could continue with my running, especially with the weather improving. I was a little sad because this year was meant to be the year when I ramp up a few 10K races and at least two half marathons (last year I managed to do one race) but fate had other plans with all large sporting events suspended until further notice. Having just completed a half marathon in the beginning of March and combining heavy cardio with weights right up until the day of the lockdown, I was all up in rage with my training. I told myself, I couldn’t let this be a reason to slide down with my fitness, especially with my running. My goal remained to run as many long distances races as I can, if not this year, then definitely next.
Now, I know a lot of joggers are getting bad press in the media, for not adhering to social distancing and for crowding inside parks. Me, personally I have not witnessed this and I am not sure if this is fake news or it’s just not happening at the places where I go running.
Apart from essential shopping, the only other time I go out, is when I got out for my run every day. There is nothing more I find liberating and nothing more suited either. As a matter of fact, the title of my website- Pacing Forward, was named in relation to my love for running. We have been lucky to have had the spring sun shining, as running across the Thames and the City of London with the wind rushing and the sun blaring down on your face, as you pass through each of London’s famous bridges is nothing short of exhilarating. What makes it even enjoyable, is that there are few to no traffic and people to slow down your run, therefore improving your pace. London has always been a difficult place to run, thanks to its deep congestion. Whether it’s a red light, cyclists or just pedestrians getting in your way. The rare occasion when the traffic works in your favour with less people around, is what I call a good day. This is how it is now, every day.
I have never been that fond of running in parks, simply because, most of the time you find yourself in a loop and I much rather move in straight lines. This is why it seems a blessing to go running every day and keep moving on the streets without any obstacles. Even though, there is a sense of eeriness from the silence of the roads, once packed by thousands of people. What is also interesting is, the amount of runners I see, that I have not seen before. If this pandemic has done anything, is that it has been successful in getting more people out of their doors to take better care of their health by running, even if their reasons are to just get that one hour break from staying inside their homes.
But the best part of it all is and I cannot express this enough, that it is good for your mental wellbeing. There is a reason why the government has made exercise, one of the mandatory reasons for you to go out. This is because, it’s vital for your physical and mental health. In this current pandemic with all the concerns, anxiety and worries we have for our loved and vulnerable ones and the future of this world. Being cooped up inside the four walls of our homes, is the last thing we need to add on to the list of worries. The mental effects of being in a lockdown can potentially cause more harm for us as a society as we move on from this globe changing scenario. Think along the lines of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, there is no doubt in the long run, people coming out of this pandemic will develop some type of anxiety as a result of all this. This is why it’s so important that we keep both our mind and body fit.
Running and social distancing go hand in hand. There is no activity more solitude than running. I should know, I have done it for a long time. There is nothing more serene than running at your own pace, yes there are some who choose to run with their friends, partners and teams but really and truly, this is one activity where you don’t need anyone. All you need is a good playlist and a good route, and you get subdued into your own world, the only competition you have is yourself. You are in a world where no one will judge you, time you or even ask what you have on your playlist. You can put whatever gets you going, from your guilty pleasures to hardcore fast pacing tunes. I personally have everything from Linking Park, Jay Z to Celine Dion to get me through those slow parts of the runs. It’s all personal, it’s all you and you don’t need anybody or anyone.
Importantly it helps me balance my thoughts, my worries, allows me to think, helps me escape, clear my mind and puts me in a better mood and makes me fitter all at the same time. In this lockdown with no clear idea or timeline of what will happen next, we need this now more than ever.
It also allows me to kill two birds with one stone, as I almost always pop down the supermarket after my run to do my shopping. Thankfully, since all my runs are in the City of London, majority of the supermarkets have fewer customers and fully stocked up.
There are a lot of concerns that runners are causing a lot of issues in relation to social distancing, but from what I have witnessed, we are keeping safe. I keep more than my recommended distance, carry my own towel with me, along with wearing the right gear and washing myself thoroughly when I get home.
For that one hour a day I find myself now running, it’s the one hour, where I feel a bit normal, escape from a world that is getting grim every day. So please let’s all of us keep pacing forward.
As always don’t jeopardise others with your action, be safe doing whatever you do and keep healthy.