Interviews

How three runners in different countries coped with running during the pandemic

by On Dec 31, 2020

What are the reasons that make you continue to run?

What has running changed for you?

The pandemic has changed a lot of things in the world. However, it does not stop runners from continuing to pursue their favourite sports.

Runners around the world have demonstrated their determination and wits to continue running even when they are under lockdowns or under quarantine.

Today, we are pleased to talk to three active runners in three different countries and find out how they have adapted their running routine during and post the pandemic.

1. Lun Zi Jun, Sally

Bio: Malaysian, 26-years-old, Channel Sales Executive

What has running changed for you?
Lun Zi Jun, Sally

Sally started running with her college mates back in 2013 by participating in some of the running events. The main reason she started running is to lose weight and keep up with a healthy lifestyle.

Almost a year later, she joined the Puma Night Running Club (PNRC) as a regular member and started running regularly with a group of enthusiastic runners. She was introduced to many different running menus after joining the running club; it was fun and encouraging, as she saw herself improving day by day. 

Later on, she started her new role as a pacer of PNRC and had the chance to lead the runners according to the assigned pace. She admits that helping them to achieve their goals is more satisfying than beating her own personal bests.

Till then, running is her favourite sport activity, as it can always be done alone or in a group. It's flexible and convenient. 

RS: How do you adapt your running routine in the new norm?

Sally: The pandemic has forced us to adapt and change the way we live, as we know things won't be back to normal in a few weeks or even a few months. In the past, I could've run with my friends in a big group, organise weekly training programmes for the running club and go to a hawker stall or "mamak" for dinner with friends after running.

To adapt to the new norm, all of us need to learn to 'live with it' by maintaining social distancing, practise good hand hygiene, avoiding large group gatherings and wearing face masks, especially in crowded areas.

As of now, I keep my group small (usually 2 - 3 pax) when I'm out for a run. Other than this, I also started some other cross-training that I can do on my own, such as indoor home workouts, solo hiking or outdoor cycling. 

RS: Due to COVID-19, all mass participation races have been cancelled. How do you find a replacement for your next race?

Sally: I used to join races once a month (on average) before the COVID-19. Ever since the races have been cancelled, I spent more time training on my own and also encouraged my sister to join me. She has become my training partner ever since the pandemic took place!

This could be the time where many people started running since we are restricted to go everywhere like we used to. I believe the next race will always be there as long as we do our part to prevent the spread now.

RS: During the lockdown period, how did you maintain your stamina and keep yourself positive?

Sally: During the lockdown period, I did indoor home workouts almost 6 days a week. There are many training plans (such as Tabata) and tutorial videos available online. To my surprise, I'm still able to run at my usual pace after two months of 'zero' running mileage. It is not easy to remain positive all the time, as we do not get to see our friends and catch up like we used.

Sometimes, when I feel really bored working out on my own, I join some workout 'live' sessions on Facebook/ Instagram with my friends, where we are able to chat online and workout together. 

RS: If you run outdoors, what precautions do you take?

Sally: The main precaution that I take is to avoid running in a large group, and I do not run when I'm feeling sick. Besides that, I also avoid touching anything on my runs and try not to use any public facilities if possible. 

RS: What will you foresee in the future of running?

Sally: The pandemic has changed the running-race industry, as the events are being cancelled, and I believe the public might still fear Coronavirus when events are happening again.

However, I also see that the pandemic has inspired a new wave of runners, as people are looking for an outlet to exercise and escape the confines of self-isolation at home. This could be a good sign to the event organisers in the future, as more people are picking up running as their hobby.

The future of running remains uncertain, as we do not know how long it will take for the virus to be under control.

RS: Have you heard of virtual runs? What's your thoughts on joining one?

Sally: Yes, I have heard of virtual runs, and I participated once before the pandemic. It was a nice experience, as it motivated me to run further and challenge myself to complete my goal. I would encourage runners who have never tried virtual runs to at least give it a try!

You can follow Sally on Instagram: @sallylun

2. Johan Permana

Bio: Indonesian, 32-years-old, Procurement at Automotive Company

What has running changed for you?
Johan Permana

Johan has loved running since he was 13 years old. He started to run seriously in 2018. He joined one of the largest regional running communities in Indonesia, namely Indorunner Karawang or Karawang Runner. He learned a lot of knowledge by joining this community.

Then, he joined an inter-company run community, Astra Runner. Not only running for himself, he also experienced being a PACER in several running events. His running distance began to increase, starting from 5K, 10K, 21K, 42K, continued to the charity run plus ultra-run, which is 60K to 155K.

RS: How do you adapt your running routine in the new norm?

Johan: I prefer to run in the early morning or night to minimise meeting many people.

RS: Due to COVID-19, all mass participation races have been cancelled. How do you find a replacement for your next race?

Johan: To find a replacement race, I am waiting for the updated information regarding the re-schedule of races or other races. Instead, I run outdoors or trail run.

RS: During the lockdown period, how did you maintain your stamina and keep yourself positive?

Johan: Every morning or night, I always take the time to run between schedules to do strength training. Besides maintaining stamina, strength training also helps me to shape my body to be better and fitter.

Yes, we must keep thinking positively because this is for the good of all humans. I am sure that after the pandemic ends, those times will be more meaningful.

RS: If you run outdoors, what precautions do you take?

Johan: In addition to choosing the right time to run, I always carry equipment to protect myself. The equipment includes a mask and hand sanitiser. So, when I run and have to go through a crowd, I wear a mask and decrease my running speed, then release it when I’m on a quieter street.

RS: What will you foresee in the future of running?

Johan: I think races will still be held in the future, but still prioritising health protocols.

RS: Have you heard of virtual runs? What's your thoughts on joining one?

Johan: Yes, I already knew about virtual runs before this pandemic. I have followed it, and during this pandemic, I have participated in several virtual runs, such as the Gold Coast Virtual Run and the Chicago Virtual Run.

You can follow Johan on Instagram: @j_na44

3. Sherlyn Guingab Fugaban

Bio: Filipino, 30-years-old, Documentation Officer 

What has running changed for you?
Sherlyn Guingab Fugaban

It all started when a friend asked her to run on her behalf, and she can still vividly remember that she was wearing a road shoe when in a trail running event. Being so competitive, Sherlyn accepted the challenge with a burning desire that no matter what happened, she would give her best and finish this race.

Luckily, she ended up 5th in the Female Category. From there, she invested time and effort in running. Also being a seasoned mountaineer, somehow, she already knew the technical terrain while having fun during the climb.

Trail running has developed her personality, tested her character and strengthened her mentally and physically. Also, it teaches her to be more sensitive and compassionate, thus she will continue this sport until she can.

RS: How do you adapt your running routine in the new norm?

Sherlyn: This is challenging now since I am an outdoor person. During pre-COVID, there was never a day that I didn’t go out to run, and all of a sudden, this pandemic changed my usual daily routine.

I remember one time, I ran countless times within the kitchen just because I wanted to continue my usual routine since we could not go out to run. There are lots of things to cope with the new normal.

Right now, community quarantine is no longer that strict, and since I have the benefit of time and freedom to run outside, I still want to just have my home workout instead because this makes me feel safe. 

RS: Due to COVID-19, all mass participation races have been cancelled. How do you find a replacement for your next race?

Sherlyn: Right now, I engaged myself into biking, one thing I didn’t expect that I would venture into. Through this new hobby, I have been to various places, riding my bike with less carbon footprint.

Biking is also an exercise to strengthen my lower extremities and gain more mileage. The way most people are now adapting due to the suspension of mass public transportation. 

RS: During the lockdown period, how did you maintain your stamina and keep yourself positive?

Sherlyn: I did a lot of home workouts to strengthen more of my core and maintain my stamina. Recently, I did discover the benefits of jump rope. It taught me many techniques while improving my physical and strengthened my mental health, as well.

This is not just about jumping and skipping but balancing our mental health as well during this pandemic in a way that your steps must be coordinated with your hand movements.

RS: If you run outdoors, what precautions do you take?

Sherlyn: I have always kept in mind all the safety, health protocols mandated by the government. I always bring with me a hand sanitiser and face mask. Also, I do my part by maintaining social distancing and wash my hands as frequently as possible.

I also run in places with a few to no people. I always keep in my mind that everyone can be a carrier of the virus, hence maintaining a safe distance is really a key to preventing this virus.

RS: What will you foresee in the future of running?

Sherlyn: It’s a great feeling that people realise the value of their health, and they resort to running as an activity that would make them healthy. I have seen more people running indoors and some outside.

This is the fastest access to getting good exercise, burning calories and strengthening our immune system. I think more people will hook up into running because this is a contactless sport and very accessible to everyone.

RS: Have you heard of virtual runs? What's your thoughts on joining one?

Sherlyn: Virtual running has already been a thing in the community since then. This is designed for runners who cannot physically join a single event. I like this idea because you can just run anywhere and anytime you wish to.

You can follow Sherlyn on Instagram: @bundukerangybanag

Are you running differently before the pandemic? What are some of the changes that you have made, so you can continue to enjoy the sport you love? Feel free to share your comments.

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.

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