After sheltering in place for 56 days, I was finally comfortable enough to put on my running shoes and going out for the run I had so looked forward to since the quarantine began.
The long awaited return
I was foolish enough to think that my return run would be just a continuation of where I had left off, but by the time I returned from that first run, I had experienced the following mind-bending revelations:
- The sparse numbers of people I encountered during my return run reminded me of how fearful people can be when they’re scared. Gone were the friendly waves and casual chats. I felt alone and disconnected.
- I felt particularly worried when encountering exercise-goers who weren’t wearing masks. What were they thinking? While I didn’t come across a lot of them, I found myself putting extra distance between us, just in case.
- For those of us wearing masks, it was easy to see how unsettled all of us felt by our lack of eye contact. This once social activity had morphed into a solitary experience—one that felt totally alien to me.
- Running while wearing my mask proved impossible. My breathing rate increased and I felt like I was being smothered. I made a mental note: Even if it means traveling further, I would find a place that’s less populated for now.
- I had no idea how much I would miss the presence of the little ones I encountered on my runs—kids getting their first experiences beside mum and dad. I don’t blame parents for not bringing children out yet. If I had kids, I’d leave them home, too.
- My body ached despite the short distance I covered on my first return run. Despite adhering to my at-home exercise practices, I quickly realized that I had over-estimated my capability. I need to take it slower.
- I had to make peace with “the new normal.” There’s a chance things may not return to the old days; the time before COVID changed everything about life as we knew it. Reaching a level of acceptance will be up to me. Not only did my body suffer as a result of my inability to run for 56 days, but my emotions did, too.
- I have heightened my use of social media to stay in touch with other runners and it has really helped. Knowing that I’m not alone as I re-orient my head and body to a new routine, new location and less-strenuous pace, it feels good to know that people I’ve never met share the grief I feel for “my old life.”
- Having always loved running marathons with great joy, I may now have to learn what it’s like to live without fun, exciting (and sometimes frustrating) in-person races. I’m going to have to rely upon selfies friends snapped at finish lines for now as well as my drawer full of t-shirts, certificates and medals to supply those memories.
- I’m excited to see that in-person and online runs are still scheduled to take place throughout 2020 and I’ve already signed up for my first online run.
Sometimes, it takes a disaster to make one realise how precious life’s simple pleasures can be. As I regain my strength, I am hopeful that my new running normal will be as exciting and fulfilling as it was in the past.
Have you just begun running again after sequestering at home? What’s the most important lesson you learned now that you’re once again lacing up your running shoes?