Running During the Pandemic Can Bring Fundamental Changes

My neighbor has been out running nearly every day.

My wife has been getting out at least every other day, sometimes more.

One of the “bright spots” of the Coronavirus pandemic is seeing more runners and cyclists out on the trails and roads.

Running and riding are obviously not new. What’s different now is the sheer number of people who are out right now.

We are trying to keep sane, keep in shape, or at least get out of the house for a little while.

Running during the pandemic can help us stay resilient, patient, and focused.

Running during the Pandemic Brings Focus

Not having a race to train for right now can actually be a positive thing for you. 

The simple process of training for running or cycling can make us better people, especially if there is no race. 

Then what is our motivation???

That’s exactly the point. 

If we can create good training habits of the discipline of regular exercise, we create positive results in our daily lives. 

If we are always pursuing some kind of result, we might never feel fulfilled. We are always chasing the next big thing.

When we focus on the process, training has a way of improving our life or health and our mental well-being.

Then our endurance sport has the potential of fundamentally changing our lives.

And any challenge, including this present Coronavirus pandemic, presents an opportunity to try something different or new.

Jim Fixx: Running Changes Us

Sports Illustrated recently ran a long story about running during the Coronavirus and Jim Fixx, who was one of the earliest proponents of the running movement back in the 60s and 70s.

The author, Chris Ballard, talked about how the pandemic has changed runners and running – that we become better or feel better about our place in the world.

The diehards upped their mileage; the reticent runners returned to the sport; the novices gave it a shot. Most did so not in preparation for competition or to gain social status?if anything, leaving the house confers the opposite right now?but with the hope that covering three miles, or 10, or one, whether at a six-minute pace or a slow trudge, would in some way do them good, or make them feel better about themselves or the world, if even for a moment.

Chris Ballard, Sports Illustrated

Ballard writes that in the beginning, Fixx just wanted to run to lose weight and have some mental clarity.

He kept a diary of his running miles and his performances on each day.

And what emerged was a record of the process that he used to become a runner and using running as a tool for a better life.

He used the joy of running to improve his life and his attitude.

With the pandemic, we are able to face this challenge by trying something different.

Running during the pandemic brings new opportunities

Brian DeSalvo, a high school math teacher in Milwaukee, is a long-distance runner. He believes that times like these give us opportunities to try new things.

“A challenge does not have to be new or different, but the approach we take should be new and different,” he says. “If you keep trying the same thing, expecting different results, you most likely will be led to disappointment.” 

“If one is serious about endurance sports and that quest for constant improvement, I feel that it is more than just the regular exercise that helps us persevere in our daily existence. One focuses more on their hydration, nutrition, sleep and daily exercise, all of which are important for day to day improvements, which, in the end, can fundamentally change our lives.” 

Brian DeSalvo

He had been training for a marathon in May. When that was cancelled, he tried some different ways of training by being less structured and running more on feel.

“With races being cancelled I decided to do a birthday run and run 32 miles for my 32nd birthday. And when May started, I decided to attempt something dubbed the calendar challenge. May 1st is one mile, May 2nd is two miles, every day until May 31st is 31 miles.”

Unfortunately by the midway point of the challenge, he had hurt his left knee and could not continue.

While he is doing some physical therapy and doing some cycling as cross-training, he is also getting as many miles on the Ice Age Trail as he has been able to, including a virtual 50k.

“Trails have been better on my knee, and nature has been better for my mind,” he says. “Running encourages me to get outside, be part of nature and to focus my life around healthy lifestyles.”

DeSalvo: The Race is the Reward for Months of Training

DeSalvo says he enjoys the process of running during the pandemic as he makes progress throughout a training cycle. Training for endurance sports can make us better people.

“The results and race is the reward for the months of consistency and hard work. If one is serious about endurance sports and that quest for constant improvement, I feel that it is more than just the regular exercise that helps us persevere in our daily existence. One focuses more on their hydration, nutrition, sleep and daily exercise, all of which are important for day to day improvements which in the end can fundamentally change our lives.” 

He first got into running when he was in college as a way of maintaining his mental health and losing some weight.

“I remember seeing Ironman Madison and thinking if they can do that, then I can run a marathon.”

He signed up for one the next spring and has done one or two since then.

“I then have a very distinct memory of lining up at a marathon and seeing a woman wearing a Chicago 50 mile shirt. I was blown away that those were even options,” he says.

Then, several years later he helped pace a friend 40 miles during the night as she tried to complete a 100-mile event.

“She ended up dropping out but the ultra fire was lit for me,” he says. “I had a friend and her friends sign up for the Door County fall 50 relay. I decided to go with and run the solo event.”

His long-term goal to qualify for Boston with a sub-3 hour marathon time.

Ready to Pick Up Running During the Pandemic?

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