To me, it has been like watching a movie.
It is fascinating to watch and listen to the news as it unfolds. To watch as the figures mount up — exponentially.
Except, it is real.
To begin with, it seemed like somebody else’s problem and the numbers seemed small. What is all the fuss about? It is only affecting a tiny proportion of the population. Even in China, where it all started just 10 weeks ago, the current mortality of just over 3000 is obviously awful, but of a population of 1.3 billion it represents a death rate of only 0.00024%. Was that really anything to worry about for most of us?
The more recent spread in Europe is certainly more concerning to us here in the UK. The infection and death rates are climbing, with seemingly no reason for them to stop. For the vast majority of people though, so far, the secondary effects have a far deeper, direct impact. Advice from the government: to avoid all contact with friends, family or others unless absolutely necessary has a huge effect on our lives and society in general. Businesses will (and already are) suffering; without quick financial help, many will fail. Hard times are indeed ahead.
For us, as runners, we’ve seen the events that we have been training for cancelled. And now we are advised to avoid meeting our fellow runners with whom we train and socialise. The sensible and considerate runner is the one that runs alone. It is frustrating for sure, but within the bigger picture, it is just a dot.
For many people, running provides a valuable escape, and we are likely to need this escape now more than ever.
I, like many, was training for a spring marathon. That marathon had provided me with the motivation to get out there and run during what has been a frankly lousy winter. Now that special motivation is completely gone, at least for a few months, and it’s not even certain when it might reappear.
That being said, this morning, I ran. Admittedly shorter than of late for a midweek morning run. But I ran, and I ran with real purpose. I’m not sure what it was. Frustration perhaps, or just because I could. I think that was it. My marathon training has undoubtedly made me able to run a bit faster (it should really shouldn’t it). It’s made my running better and I felt better by tapping into it. I actually ran quicker around that route than I ever have done (I’ve been running it for about 3 years).
Yes, it is disappointing that the marathon is no longer the driving force. It’s tempting to say that all that training is wasted. But it’s not. That training has made me a better runner (for me, at age 57, that’s quite a thing) and there’s no greater motivation than that for many of us.
So now is a time — with no events to train for — to run because we can, and to train, because that’s what makes us better at the thing we love to do.