Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Running One Year Into A Pandemic

One year ago today, I decided I would continue my between-marathon training schedule despite the emerging threat of COVID-19.  I had only just started working from home that Monday.  The World Health Organization declared we were officially experiencing a pandemic just one week before...which is when my employer decided our team should go remote, erring on the side of caution to remain productive.

Just days before the WHO declaration, I had been thanking the LA Marathon organizers for going ahead with the race I had spent months training for, thanking the people of our city for coming out to support us crazy endurance athletes despite the looming threat of a highly contagious airborne disease.  I did my first recovery run on March 11, the very day it was announced COVID-19 had spread worldwide.

As I said, I resumed my between-marathon training routine with the plan to not ramp up my mileage until a few months before Surf City in 2021.  My second scheduled run was just ahead of Mayor Garcetti's "Safer at Home" order which was the beginning of what would become a nation-wide shutdown of all but essential businesses...the beginning of a two week lockdown.  Fortunately, I had already started working from home, but my wife would soon find herself furloughed.  Now things were starting to feel serious, but I decided to stick to my routine.

One year later, I am still following the same training schedule...and there have been obvious health benefits, both physical and mental.  Routines are important.  Nothing has ever interrupted more routines quite like lockdown, but mine didn't really change all that much.  If anything, I benefited from staying home.  My wife, who found herself forced to abandon her yoga routine, started asking to join me on runs (not to run, but to hike while I run).  Just getting outside on a regular basis does a lot to elevate one's spirit...especially since we now spend most of our days inside our home.  It doesn't hurt that we live on a beautiful peninsula with a spectacular coastline and many trails to explore.

Without any interest in registering for a race (Surf City was postponed) until most including myself can be vaccinated (I likely won't be eligible to receive one for awhile), I have had no reason to focus on speed or increase my mileage.  Doing either have historically increased my chance of injury (as was the case in 2019), so I tend to only push myself harder when I have a compelling reason to do so (like registering for a race).  That said, when I maintain a consistent routine, I naturally get faster.  It just takes a little longer.

As recently as 2019, when I decided to register for the Long Beach Marathon, I needed to significantly ramp up my training since I had just experienced one of my lowest mileage years...among the lowest since I had started running marathons.  I went from being the heaviest I had ever been to the lightest I had been post high school (when I ran cross country and distance track).  I have maintained that low weight throughout the pandemic...which is pretty remarkable considering how well I ate while my wife was furloughed (we definitely began the pandemic with a lot of comfort food and baked goodness).  Heck, I'm probably still eating better than I did when I used to commute...largely because I never go out to eat!

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