Why Running Has Become My Lifeline During 2020’s Hardest Days

Photo Credit: Ketut Subiyanto/Pexels

For the record, I don’t enjoy running. I never have. But once my gym closed due to social distancing orders, I had no choice but to find a new workout routine. I quickly created a playlist of workout videos I could follow at home, as I’d been able to make workout videos work for me in the past. But when it felt like the world was crashing down around me, I found myself distracted and apathetic, moving through these virtual workouts as a means to an end in order to check off a box.

It became clear rather quickly that while my to-do list appeared to be thriving, my fitness routine was not. Typically, I came home from a workout exhausted, whereas at home I barely broke a sweat. As my stress about the pandemic, my family’s health, canceled travel plans, and work began to mount, I realized I needed a real release.

Not Exactly Born to Run

Running has never appealed to me, but I suspected running would exhaust me, which I desperately needed to feel. Mentally, I sought a clear slate after feeling overwhelmed by the constant changes of the stay-at-home orders, false promises about next steps, and disheartening news about the toll the pandemic was taking. Physically, I was too well-rested (a privilege I acknowledge) from staying at home and skipping commutes and meetings, spending long days in heels, and enjoying late nights out with friends. I suspected running could kill two birds with one stone.

I wouldn’t say that the first time I went on a run that I was hooked. I rather disliked every moment — and still do months later — aside from that exciting initial burst before the first wave of huffing and puffing sets in.

I wouldn’t say that the first time I went on a run that I was hooked. I rather disliked every moment — and still do months later — aside from that exciting initial burst before the first wave of huffing and puffing sets in.

The benefits are worth the temporary discomfort. When I finish a run I feel relaxed and clear-headed, like my mind has room to breathe. Every muscle in my body feels sore but relaxed at the same time. Whereas on a normal day of sheltering at home, lounging around can feel so frustrating, wasteful, and lazy, after a solid run, it feels appropriate to slump onto the couch. 

One important lesson I’ve taken away from the events of 2020 is to cut myself some slack. This year does not look like what I planned, and that’s okay. I think we all deserve a little grace right now, and for me, that means lowering my expectations of what I can achieve. Running is the one caveat to this grace period. Each time I run, I can aim to run a little bit faster or to run for a little bit longer. These running goals are not affected by the economy, the election, or whatever course the pandemic wages. Running gives me a feeling of accomplishment and a sense of a job well done. I know my body will thank me for it.


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