Coronavirus Got Me Running Again

(Neighborhood lake – author’s photos)

After over a decade of not running, except in a pool where it almost doesn’t count, I decided in February to hit the pavement again. One day I just woke up remembering the rush on the high school track, my military days, and spontaneous beach jogs. Remembering the sense of accomplishment in a fully spent body. Remembering the double bonus of nature on the run. Remembering that my whole life has been a marathon, so why shouldn’t there be a more physical expression of that?

Not surprisingly, I discovered later that my daughter had joined her first running group, so she was encouraging. You know, though, how one moment something seems like destiny and then the next day you’re questioning your sanity? Well, that was me the next day. I mean, I’m pretty fit, but I’m also a Boomer and most of my generation is complaining about bad knees and hips, and aches and injuries that occur while sleeping. Although, I’ve been spared, I didn’t want to create physical problems either, so I spent a whole day wondering if I’d reached that point in life where I should just sit my butt down somewhere instead of tempting fate.

But the desire didn’t go away and when my new running shoes arrived, I laced them up and drove to my neighborhood lake with a one-mile loop, texting my daughter: Headed for my run. Pray for me. LOL.  Mistakes were made immediately. How could a yogi forget to stretch? Where was my breath control? Why hadn’t I packed tissue? Why were the front of my thighs screaming after the first lap, but nothing else? On the second lap, I stretched out. That felt better. My stride had been too tentative, too tight. I also got a handle on my breathing and began to take in the beauty around me. The ducks, the lake, the tree tops, the playground, forks in the road, the red-winged bird who’d made its home mid-way.

Walk, run, walk. One song, two songs, one song. Repeat. That was my rhythm.

Within a week, I built up to looping the lake three times, even if I partially walked the last lap.

Before coronavirus, with work and LIFE, I only had two days a week for running, but then everything paused. My gym closed and like many, I went to full-time teleworking due to a subsequent Stay-At-Home order in Washington state that directed us to hunker down, except for grocery stores and outdoor exercise.

Suddenly I had all of this time to manifest my ideal running schedule of three or four days a week. No excuses.

I felt freer and happier than I had since lockdown, even though I was still in my own neighborhood.

Life looks so different now, but when I run, I don’t think about Coronavirus. I don’t think about missing my family and friends, hugs and the gym pool. I don’t think about the major job losses or the looming recession ahead for global economy. I don’t think about what life is going to be like “after” and whether I’ll be a bonafide germaphobe for the rest of my life.

I just run and my moving body keeps my mind still.

With lots of electrolytes, Epsom salt baths and mindful stretching, I’ve gotten stronger and steadier. It has also been fun to run with people from a distance, many who seem, out of necessity, to be at it for the first time or returning after a long while.

I’m on the early shift and there are familiar faces, including a family of four – man, woman, two pre-teen sons whose expressions signal their participation wasn’t optional. From a good length behind, I found myself mimicking their pace, which felt like my pace and made it seem less like I was running alone. When they walked, I walked. When they ran, I ran. Walk, run, walk. One song, two songs, one song. Repeat. Realizing that I seemed possibly creepy early on, I waved and tossed around friendly smiles. They did the same. Now we just nod when we make eye contact, it pretty much being settled that we are part of the same track team.

3 thoughts on “Coronavirus Got Me Running Again

  1. I’m impressed! Good for you. I’m in the creaky kneed Boomer camp, and one who has been out gardening as much as I can. Not running, but it has the same effect of quieting the mind. Much needed these days.

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