Inspiration

Why we continue to run after the pandemic lockdown

by On Dec 6, 2020

Did you run to get a sense of normality during the pandemic?

Why we continue to run after the pandemic lockdown

Running outdoors is a great way to release anxiety and stress after the pandemic lockdown, as it gives us a sense of normality in our life. However, some might have stopped running until a vaccine becomes available.

If you are exercising outdoors, make sure to run safely, practise social distancing, avoid touching your face with your hands and sanitise your hands frequently.

We spoke to some avid runners who shared their experience on how did they adopt safety measures in their runs to make running enjoyable and interesting.

1. Melissa Ann Loke

Bio: Singaporean, 37-years-old, Communications Manager

Why we continue to run after the pandemic lockdown
Runner: Melissa Ann Loke

Melissa started actively running in 2016 and completed her first marathon, the Sundown Marathon, in May, followed by her first 100km Ultra (Craze Ultra) in October in the same year.

Since then, she has been participating in several local and overseas marathons, road ultra-marathon races of 50km and 100km distances, and was fortunate to win a handful of them.

Her last race was Langkawi Ultra in February 2020 before the Covid-19 pandemic worsened globally, where she won the female 100km category. With races being either cancelled or postponed, she is just taking her running leisurely for now and exploring other cross-training options.

RS: What motivated you to continue running after the pandemic lockdown?

Melissa: As most runners would agree, nearly nothing will stop us from running, even if it means having to run loops indoors! During the circuit breaker, running was the best opportunity to get out of the house for a breather!

Furthermore, running during that period was enjoyable because the streets were calm and quiet, the roads were empty, and somehow, the peacefulness and tranquillity brought out a different side of Singapore. 

It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to witness an empty Orchard Road, a dim, lifeless Robertson and Clarke Quay, and I even managed to take a selfie right smack in the middle of an empty Anderson Bridge – during peak hour!

RS: How do you adapt your training to suit the new norms?

Melissa: Whenever my schedule permits, I try to run during less popular times to avoid the crowds, like squeeze in a lunchtime workout, run in less crowded areas or mix-up my training with treadmill runs, swimming, and strength training in the gym.

Once, just to avoid the overly-crowded PCNs, I ran 100 times around a 100-meter loop up and down the car park ramp just to hit 10km.

RS: How do you cope with stress or anxiety while running outside due to the pandemic? If so, do you find a solution to it?

Melissa: It is really not so much about stress or anxiety, but more so from the erratic weather changes where it could be sunny one moment and pouring the next – so I ensure I always got a mask (folded in a Ziplock bag) and my mobile phone with me in case I have to stop and commute home via public transport.

Why we continue to run after the pandemic lockdown
Runner: Melissa Ann Loke

RS: While running outside, what are the challenges you encounter?

Melissa: During the circuit breaker, most PCNs were extremely packed with joggers, walkers, runners and even kids on their bicycles, e-scooters, etc., which made it challenging to keep to the recommended social distancing.

Also, all public water coolers were not in use, so for my long runs (LSDs), I had to plan my route along areas with marts and convenient shops, and, of course, carry a mask; otherwise, I would be denied entry.

RS: What tips can you share to other runners to ensure they train with the best guidance and proper instruction outdoors during these new norms/pandemic?

Melissa: Since running is exercise that can be done solo without teammates or a specific venue, it’s really the perfect COVID/social-distancing workout!

Personally, I enjoy running solo while listening to music or podcasts, but, at the same time, ensuring the volume is kept minimal, so I can still hear traffic/car horns for safety.

While running outdoors, I would also avoid touching shared objects, handrails, or points like traffic buttons, and if I had to, I’d use my elbow or sleeves.

2. Pow Chia Ling, Ann

Bio: Malaysia, 24-years-old, Student

Why we continue to run after the pandemic lockdown
Runner: Pow Chia Ling, Ann

Ann started running because she wanted to lose weight. Now, her reason for running is because she participated in triathlon and running races. She has been running for 5 years and completed 12 full marathons.

She felt fortunate to be where she is today in triathlon and running, although she did not come from a sporting background. Therefore, she encourages people to pick up a sport to maintain a healthy lifestyle. She believes that it doesn’t matter how old they are, it’s never too late and not impossible.

RS: What motivated you to continue running after the pandemic lockdown?

Ann: I used this opportunity to do more quality sessions, work on my weaknesses and be a stronger runner than before.

RS: How do you adapt your training to suit the new norms?

Ann: According to my training program, I will find suitable routes around my house to run, or I’ll run on my treadmill at home if it’s more convenient.

RS: How do you cope with stress or anxiety while running outside due to the pandemic? If so, did you find a solution to it?

Ann: I try not to think so much about the stress around me due to the pandemic. Instead, I focus on my program and reduce going to crowded areas and head straight back home once my training is done.

Why we continue to run after the pandemic lockdown
Runner: Pow Chia Ling, Ann

RS: While running outside, what are the challenges you encounter?

Ann: Weather, traffic and uneven road surfaces are some of the challenges I’ll face.

RS: What tips can you share to other runners to ensure they train with the best guidance and proper instruction outdoors during these new norms/pandemic??

Ann: Most importantly, safety comes first, so make sure to be aware of your surroundings and social distance, do not gather in big groups, don't hang out too long outside before and after the run, don't run in crowded places, and bring a mask along in case you go into any shops.

3. Vicky Sham

Bio: Hong Kong, 39-years-old, Health Coach

Why we continue to run after the pandemic lockdown
Runner: Vicky Sham

Vicky started running casually about 15 to 20 years ago, nothing more than a 5km or 10km every now and then. She only became more hooked on the sport since she completed her first marathon in New York three years ago.

Since then, she has finished another five marathons and hopes to complete all the World Major Marathons someday. She has competed New York and Chicago and signed up for Berlin 2021.

RS: What motivated you to continue running after the pandemic lockdown?

Vicky: Fortunately, Hong Kong has never gone under any lockdown, so I have been able to continue running outside throughout the pandemic

Running is something that I enjoy doing. Of course, there are days that I don't feel like running, which has nothing to do with the pandemic. I'd highly recommend joining a running community or groups like TGR, Gone Runners and Asia Trail Girls.

I find lots of motivation from my fellow runners, and my girlfriends have helped me complete plenty of personal challenges, including my first 50km and Round the Hong Kong Island run, as well as my coach Athena, who provides plenty of support and a well-structured training programme so that I always have something to work on. 

RS: How do you adapt your training to suit the new norms?

Vicky: It's been a real shame that many races have been cancelled, but we are lucky that Hong Kong has never been a full lockdown, so we can enjoy the beautiful outdoors. The trails in Hong Kong are absolutely stunning and highly accessible and a great way to stay physically and mentally healthy.eat way to stay physically and mentally healthy.

The main adaptations we have to take are around mask-wearing, keeping social distancing and staying in very small groups of 2-4 people during training.

RS: How do you cope with stress or anxiety while running outside due to the pandemic? If so, do you find a solution to it?

Vicky: I run to cope with stress or anxiety. Running is one of the most effective, easy and accessible ways to let go of my worries.

Why we continue to run after the pandemic lockdown
Runner: Vicky Sham

RS: While running outside, what challenges do you encounter?

Vicky: Running with a mask on is tough, but it's not compulsory right now. The heat and humidity in the summer have been a real challenge because I have an exceptionally high sweat rate, and I soak through my clothes, socks and shoes on all my summer runs.

Fortunately, summer in Hong Kong is over, so I can now enjoy more comfortable temperatures for several months before it starts all over again. 

RS: What tips can you share with other runners to ensure they train with the best guidance and proper instruction outdoors during the pandemic?

Vicky: Running solo is a great way for social distancing when you are out running. Fortunately, we did not experience a lockdown in Hong Kong, we are still able to run with a small group, find some like-minded running mates, get a running coach to provide guidance and a well-structured training programme suitable for your experience and fitness level. But remember to run safe, protect yourself and wash your hands regularly.

Nonetheless, the running community is a fantastic resource for all things running-related, anything from shoes, gears, virtual race events, training and health tips. Or just go out and enjoy running, spend some time feeling your body and stop playing with any digital device for at least one hour a day.

So, what is your reason to get back on track and make running more enjoyable after the pandemic lockdown?

In these stressful and uncertain times, getting updated with accurate and useful information has never been so critical. No matter how unsettled the future feels, RunSociety will remain with you, delivering high quality news for free so we can all make critical decisions about our lives and health. Together we can overcome.

What we can do to help the situation is to keep our body and immune system in peak condition. If you are allowed or able to run outdoors, please do so cautiously but not panicky. Join our free online race to motivate you and pay tribute to our frontline heroes.

Samantha is an editor at RunSociety. A digital expert with a focus on the research and development of thought provoking and resourceful content, Samantha love Yoga and incorporate running in her weekly workout whenever she can.

Location
Singapore
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