When I look at the calendar, it blows my mind that we are already at the end of what I refer to as “my running season” (typically, the period from March to November) and yet I still haven’t gone running yet this year.
How did that happen? How did a whole running season escape on me?
Thankfully, it’s not like I was sidelined due to injury or anything like that (been there, done that!), but I think we can all agree that 2020 was far from normal for anyone.
Much like every year, when the ice build-up on the wintry sidewalks was melting, making them less of a hazard for slipping and breaking an ankle or a hip (a legit concern for us folks on the cusp of “elderly”), I had every intention of getting out, building up my walking routine and slowly graduating to running.
At the dawn of the Covid-19 lockdown, I was working from home and during most lunch breaks, I was outside walking two kilometres to get some fresh air, sunshine and exercise. In reality, that wasn’t too far off from my routine had I been working from the office. Over time, my pace increased with no noticeable complaints from the legs, knees, hips, IT bands or shins. I felt like I was making good progress.
Over the span of a few weeks, I had just graduated to the walk-run combo for my two kilometre circuit, so I was almost there and planning to increase my distance.
But it was the last minute renovating, staging, packing and preparations for selling the house that threw me off my A-game and my plans went out the window.
In recognizing that my brain was programmed with the “A-type” module, I have spent the better part of adulthood talking myself into toning it down, and only unleashing it when the occasion genuinely called for it. To me, getting a house ready for sale was one of those times to unleash, in the hope of a quick sale and maximum return on investment.
After a number of very late nights, there wasn’t a lot of energy left the next day for a run, even though I recognize that a run could have been a healthy antidote to the stress I was feeling.
Just the same, running up and down the stairs like a gazelle, multi-tasking between home projects and hauling stuff into storage was a continuous workout in itself. When combined with grazing on small meals, I managed to drop ten pounds without really trying.
However, the pace of the transition never really slowed down. I wouldn’t call our house a fixer-upper by any stretch of the imagination, but it seems that it has been non-stop home projects ever since, whether to bring the house up-to-date on scheduled maintenance or adding finishing touches and updates to make the home truly our own.
Some of those tasks were time-sensitive or weather dependent, or both. With my plate at the tipping point of full, when a new project would present itself, I would do my absolute best to see if I could postpone it to 2021 (… I hope this doesn’t come back to bite me later, but apparently I need a new crown.)
And of course, those projects were on top of the regular grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning and laundry that can easily fill up a week already.
Plus, under Covid-19, my full-time job never really slowed down. In fact, it seemed even more demanding than usual, which I don’t fully comprehend. But I count my blessings that I still had steady work and a steady paycheque throughout.
I confess, I secretly envied people who felt bored during the pandemic.
It’s not like I was completely without exercise during that time. My loyalty to the PBS program “Classical Stretch” was unwavering, as I made time for 4 or 5 workouts per week. And when it came to fresh air and sunshine, I was spending considerably more time outdoors than I did in my previous home, just from performing routine maintenance outdoors or from walking the cat.
But when I break it down, running was my way of communing with nature while still in the city, by driving to one of my favourite parks and running along the Ottawa River or the Rideau Canal. With the beautiful bodies of water as the backdrop, running had a meditative effect for me and offered a great source of relaxation, sometimes acting like a spiritual tune-up.
In our new home in the country, I don’t feel as strong an urge to escape the city anymore. I enjoy nature every time I set foot outside of our house. And because I don’t feel as jostled by the city’s intensity in energy, I don’t find myself needing to look for the refuge that running has offered me for a good twelve years.
It’s not that I don’t miss running, it’s just that I haven’t craved it as strongly as a stress management tool for city living. Could I still have benefited from it? Yes, of course, as updating a home is not without its share of stress. However, the move to the country has been an interesting period of rediscovery and hitting the reset button on everything.
When things calm down with the home projects, I definitely plan on returning to running. It will be up to me to “re-brand” it, for lack of a better term. Will it be purely for the health benefits, will it be to challenge myself psychologically with new goals for personal bests, or will it be to explore and enjoy the scenery of new running trails closer to our new home? Time will tell.
That being said, running is a bit of a blank canvas for me at this point, and I look forward to seeing where the next chapter in running will take me next year.
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