- Stephen King - The Shawshank Redemption
Over just the past few weeks the situation regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has escalated from “just a hoax” to a global pandemic. As a result of policies dictated by governments worldwide, group gatherings and in person social interactions have been restricted to various degrees in an effort to slow the spread of the disease and avoid inundating health care institutions with a flood of patients requiring critical care beyond their capacities. The terms “flatten the curve” and “social distance” have become everyday common language.
With restricted group gatherings came race cancellations and indefinite postponements. It began with large marathons, smaller shorter distance races next, and finally trail races followed suit. It may seem a bit shallow to be concerned with race postponements and cancellations when people are dying due to a global pandemic, but running is more than just a hobby to many runners. The majority of their social relations may revolve around meeting up for group runs. Running may be an important part of their daily routine that motivates them for the start of the day or relaxes them at the end of the day. It can be the primary activity that keeps them focused, happy, or realigns them mentally. It can be a way of life. For me it’s a bit of all of those things.
So what is a runner who thrives on the camaraderie of group runs and the competition of races to do during these dark, uncertain days when all or a portion of one of their coping mechanisms may no longer be available to them. My best advice: maintain hope that this is temporary and all the aspects of running that we are currently missing will return. In the meantime while we wait out this indefinite period of social distancing, we can make the best of a challenging time and use the tools available to us to fill in some of the missing pieces. What options am I suggesting to replace racing and group runs? My short list includes virtual races, virtual group runs (Zwift), fastest known time (FKT) attempts, Strava king of the mountain (KOM) attempts, or your own personal run every street project.
Quarantine Backyard Ultra (QBU). The format of the QBU follows the standard last person standing rules, but will use a Zoom meeting to let participants interact between laps. I think this race has the potential to be a lot of fun and to allow me to run a distance PR thereby achieving my top 2020 running goal. I just never imagined I would run my longest ever run while competing against other runners in a Zoom meeting.
So if race cancellations/postponements and a lack of group runs have got you down when you you’re already stressed, nervous, and/or sad from all of the other repercussions due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, I encourage you to try to find some solace in some of the offered suggestions. Keep your chin up and continue forward progress as we navigate this storm. And please, never lose hope.
March 28, 2020