Running means a lot of different things to each and every runner. Apart from the health benefits from running, there are other fundamental reasons for why we run. Some do it to escape, detach, destress; others run for the after feeling. I do it for all the above, to the extent that I don’t feel like myself if I don’t run. It is an addictive sport that you have to discipline yourself with as it becomes part of your daily routine.
When the pandemic started, we were all forced to become isolated at home and everything changed. The amount of daily stress from the news was unbearable. It was the type of stress that makes you want to go for a run to clear your head. However, we found the treadmill to be our only escape. We had to acclimate to the “new normal”, as they say. We had to adapt and be creative at home. It was the only way to survive.
While everyone was home, being safe. I was on duty covering the emergency department. In our hospital, I saw whoever passed through the door with a medical emergency, COVID or not. I then had to go home with the fear that I might spread the virus to my family. Those were dark times for me. I used to do everything alone while quarantined in my room. What kept me going was my family’s support and the creative ways my running community encouraged us to keep going. We started home workouts and running drills, I was able to do in my room and it helped me connect with my fellow athletes. Runners all around the world never stopped running. They ran marathons around their houses, or even in their bedrooms. Their willpower and determination would always inspire me and never failed to put a smile on my face.
My mother started to develop symptoms and we discovered that she got infected with the virus. I was excused from work as I was exposed to her. I felt so guilty as I might be the reason she got it. Caring for a COVID positive at home was stressful and scary, but I put on a brave face and kept going as I always do at work.
The beautiful paradox of when the quarantine was lifted is that we were all free, yet everyone was afraid to take their first step into the unknown, or what we called our usual daily routine in the pre-pandemic days. I was so ecstatic about the lockdown lift that I went running in my usual spot for the first time in a long while; my lungs were surprised and shocked as the air of the outdoors was somewhat strange and unusual. My legs were hungry to run further, and yet it felt like I had just learned to walk. My mind and soul were jumping out of joy, full of triumph. I am aware that we are still far from going back to normal, but at least now I can see the light at the finish line.