How an ultra-marathoner get creative in running at home during the pandemic
At-home running challenges can stimulate your creativity, here's how.
Stephanie Northway from Michigan, USA is an ultra-marathoner and teacher. She started running marathons in October 2015. Then, ultra-marathons in December 2015. She runs several races every year, and she and her family travel for them. Running is part of her life.
She also coached tee-ball for three years and Girls on the Run for one year. Girls on the Run is a program where young girls learn how to run a 5k. She loves to help people in running. Next year, she will be coaching cross country and track.
RS: As an ultra-marathoner, how do you keep yourself motivated during this tough time?
Stephanie: To stay motivated during the pandemic, I decided to create a running challenge each week of the shutdowns and Stay at Home Order with the help of my son. The running challenges gave me something to look forward to with my official races being cancelled. The running challenges also helped me stay active and healthy.
II had the extra time, so I was finally able to accomplish some personal running goals too. My son was the one who suggested that I make my own races at home. The third week into the pandemic shutdowns and Stay at Home Order, I decided to create a 100 mile race in my backyard! I went on to complete five more 100 mile runs at home during the Stay at Home Order.
I also climbed the height of Mt. Everest on my staircase and climbed double the height of Mt. Everest. Running has taught me so much. Running shows that anything is possible. Running shows that you can do anything. People are capable of so much more. I want people to see that. I want people to want to achieve their goals. I want people to want more, to go out and be the best they can be.
RS: What inspired you to create a running challenge each week?
Stephanie: My son helped inspire me to create running challenges each week. With my official races being cancelled through June, it was an excellent way to stay motivated and active. My son, Harry, also designed medals and belt buckles, and my friend Kim created them for us. She made Harry’s designs into wooden medals and wooden belt buckles.
I did participate in a few virtual races as part of my running challenge. I won Most Creative Indoor Race in the Aravaipa Strong Virtual Race. During the shutdowns of the pandemic and Stay at Home Order in Michigan, I ended up with 12 weeks of running challenges!
I told myself that I would have a weekly running challenge until the Stay at HoI told myself that I would have a weekly running challenge until the Stay at Home Order is over, and things open up again. I did not know this would last 12 weeks, but I was prepared to do a running challenge until it was over. In 12 weeks, I did 12 running challenges. I ended up running and walking a total of 1,631 miles in 12 weeks!
RS: What challenged you the most during your running challenge at home?
Stephanie: During my running challenges, I was also working/teaching at home and homeschooling my son. We turned my running challenges into math lessons by calculating the perimeters of various rooms in our house and backyard, measuring rooms, measuring the backyard, manually tracking miles, counting laps, and counting distance.
The biggest challenge of the pandemic so far has been stress. To overcome stress, I stayed busy with running challenges and spent time with my husband and son. My running challenges gave us something to look forward to during the Stay at Home Order. Running is a big stress reliever for me and has helped reduce anxiety.
RS: For every running goal you made, how do you ensure that you complete all of them?
Stephanie: To ensure that I completed my running goals and challenges each week, I had my son hold me accountable. He hung out with me while I was running and helped me count my miles. With such small loops, we had to manually keep track of my miles with pen and paper. It was a great math lesson for him too.
With the running challenges at home, I also had constant support from my husband and son. Normally, I do not see them until the end of an official race, but with the running challenges being at home, I could see them all day. It was nice to have my son cheering me on all day too! The cheering and support helped me to stay motivated. It was great.
I planned my running challenges in advance and treated them as if they were official races too. By treating running challenges like official races, that helped me stay motivated. The medals and belt buckles that my son created were also great motivation!
RS: What is the advice you would give to all runners on how to stay active and be safe at the same time?
Stephanie: Keep moving forward! Create a personal goal for yourself and make it happen. You can still achieve your running goals during the pandemic, it just might be a little different. It is safe to run outside, as long as you are keeping your distance and giving yourself space (recommended 6 feet) from other people that are not in your household.
I suggest that if you are not comfortable running outside at a park or trail, then get creative and run inside your house and/or backyard. You can measure the distance inside your house and backyard with a ruler or tape measure! Then calculate the perimeter to determine the distance of the lap. It is easier than you think! It is fun too!
I also suggest doing a little bit each day to stay active! Staying active helps to reduce stress and keeps you busy. You will be surprised at what you can accomplish already! Keep moving forward, one step at a time.
So, let's grab a pen and paper and start to create our own running challenges, shall we?