I don’t know about you, but running really has not been very enjoyable for me for most of this lock down/pandemic time. I felt like I had the wind knocked out of me as I watched the Boston Marathon get postponed, my flight home to see family and friends for the first time in 6 months cancelled, and I began living this new “stay at home” way of life. I needed time to adjust. And running (something I love) just didn’t sound fun most days.
I had been training hard for Boston since November. Training in Sydney, Australia through the summer. It was HOT. It was hilly. It was hard. Having a goal race kept me out there doing hard runs, long runs, and uncomfortable runs. But once I didn’t have a marathon to train for anymore, I felt kind of lost. And I knew my body needed a break. Five months of hard marathon training is a lot. I knew I should not continue training through this pandemic at full capacity, especially if I will start training again in June. I need the break. I need the time to focus more on strength, yoga and chilling. THAT IS OKAY! But that does not mean I have to stop running completely.
Now what? I love to run just for running sake. It isn’t all about races for me. But that said, getting out for runs anyways when you do not feel like it, is a lot easier when you have a date on a calendar you’re working toward. Speed work in heat just isn’t going to happen for me if I’m not racing soon, because it isn’t enjoyable for me. And all I want is for running to feel enjoyable. I had to reset my mindset. I wanted to just run for my mental health. To get outside and get fresh air. To run for pure enjoyment. And for me, that means not forcing anything.
For the last two weeks of March and first three weeks of April, every single run felt frustrating. Despite stay at home orders in Australia, there were more people out running and in parks than ever before. Running paths I used to have to myself were now flooded with people (groups of people!!) who were breaking the rules and oblivious to those around them. Most runs were flat out angering. I didn’t feel like myself. And having something I love that usually brings me peace all of a sudden bring me panic and frustration is just a terrible feeling.
I had to kind of trick myself into enjoying running again. I am still working with my coach, but he is letting me lead what I want to do at the moment. I do still think even in spite of the uncertainty, now is a great time to work with a coach. They can hold you accountable, challenge you (if that’s what you want), encourage you, and make sure you don’t over train (huge right now). My athletes have been inspiring me with the work they are still putting in day after day. And I truly believe running is a good thing right now. You might just need to frame it differently in your head. If virtual races and normal speed work is your jam, then go for it. If it isn’t, that’s okay too. I came up with some ways to make running feel “fun” and wanted to share if you also are in need of some inspiration!
I hope you try some of these and find new vigor in your running. Run for fun! Run for your mental health. Run for alone time. Run to run. Now is the time to just enjoy it and remind yourself why you love it in the first place. But also, just one more reminder that now is also a great time to take a break. On the days you don’t want to workout, don’t. It will be okay. Just do what you feel like, when you feel like it. If you feel like running, but need an extra reason to get out and enjoy the run – I hope one of these ideas helps.