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Continuing To Run After Lockdown


More and more of us have taken up walking, running and cycling as part of our daily routine during the Coronavirus pandemic. It has provided welcome relief from the monotony of working from home for many, as well as giving us valuable space to process how strange the past year has been. Strava has millions of users and recorded that there was a huge upturn in people cycling, running and walking since the beginning of March 2020 – an 82% increase. 

Having been an avid runner for many years, I wondered what it was that made so many people show an interest in the sport that I love. Laura Cunningham is the Manager of the Templestowe Hotel in Torquay and alongside running a hotel, she has 3 children – one 6 and twin 3-year-olds. When the pandemic hit, the hotel closed alongside with the nursery and schools and she found herself cooped up in the house with the children, who couldn’t understand why they couldn’t see family and friends. She started to feel miserable, but then one day a friend who lived opposite suggested running late one evening with him.

 

They started gently and then before she knew it she was running 5k in 30 minutes at least 3/4 times a week. Not only did it keep her fit, but it also kept her mind focused. She now runs with friends twice a week, who all support each other and use it as a social catch up.

 

Laura’s story is totally understandable, the pandemic has pulled the carpet from underneath the feet of so many people who have been left with a lot more free time than usual. I think that even people who loved running before would admit to going for a run many more times a week than normal – it was the only thing you could do for a number of months in any case! 

With social contact being seriously affected, many people turned to social media in order to interact with others. The running community on Twitter is huge and incredibly supportive. Mark started to run when the gyms shut and he's not looked back since, now running 3-4 times a week as well as swimming! He's also a member of the fantastic Twitter running community.

 

Gyms have made a huge effort to be as hygienic and safe as possible and for the most part they’ve done a fantastic job, but the fact remains that some people will just not feel comfortable sweating next to someone else when they could be enjoying the great outdoors with a run in the sun (let’s face it, probably rain…).

 

Natasha is another example of someone who has a new found love for running outdoors, having previously been worried about doing so if it meant people watching her. It’s a common fear that people (particularly women) have, and is something which needs to be addressed – but that’s a separate problem for a different day.

She completed Couch to 5k – a popular programme designed to help new runners reach their 5km goal – and then decided she felt confident enough to run outside. She hated her first run, she couldn’t breathe, and everything was painful...sound familiar? Once she addressed her pace and slowed down a little, she’s now lost three stone in weight and is getting fitter and stronger. The return of Parkrun is something she’s very much looking forward to so that she gets the chance to interact with other runners, and she’s already signed up to her first in-person race. 

Carol is 56 years old and also completed the Couch to 5km programme during lockdown. Having struggled with knee problems for a few years, her physiotherapist recommended taking up Pilates and walking to delay the possible need for a knee replacement in her 70s – something she was very keen to avoid.

 

With support from her son, she is now able to complete 5km with relative ease and her knees rarely trouble her. She sleeps better, no longer has cold feet at night and others have commented that she looks totally different – you can’t miss the aura of a runner. Carol is also very much looking forward to Parkrun returning so that she can put her training to the test! 

In summary, there are lots of ways to get into running. Couch to 5k is a very popular way to build up slowly, or if you don’t fancy that you can just put your trainers on and head out the door – that’s the real beauty of it. The pandemic has given people the time which they may not have had before to experiment with their physical fitness, in turn creating lots of fabulous new runners!

 

I’m sure that many will naturally start to do less running as things reopen and life gets back to normal, but if it means that there are more people becoming aware of their fitness then that has to be a silver lining in what’s been a pretty tricky year. 

This blog post was contributed by Beth Henry, who works for This Is London Magazine. They are currently publishing online at www.til.com as well as through their social channels; 

Instagram: @thisislondonmag

Twitter: @thisislondonmag 


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