Pandemic Running: How local athletes persevere through COVID-19.
2020? Not a year most of us want to remember. Life changed dramatically -- everything from education to business, relationships to restaurants. Social lives? Bizarre if they even exist. Travel? Maybe next year. Running? Thankfully, still going strong.
Running has always been social and even respected the idea of social distancing, even before it was a thing. Pain and exhaustion aside, running is also helping people reduce stress. The simple act of lacing up your shoes and hitting the pavement is pounding away angst, step by step.
How do you motivate people to venture outside and get active? Tell them to stay home.
The streets and trails of Naperville felt the boom of bikers, runners, and walkers. Exercise equipment sold out almost as fast as toilet paper.
This life transition has impacted all of us, from our student-athletes at North Central College to the working parents, separating personal life from work. Neuqua Valley XC and track athlete, Ethan Thomas and NCC Track & Field Athlete, Kendall Johnson share their perspectives about running without the usual company of a team. Local runner Katie Hahn also reveals how her fitness and work-life have been impacted amidst the stay-at-home order.
For NCC Track and Field Athlete, Kendall Johnson, what he misses most from pre-pandemic running is competition.
Closed tracks and gyms made being a jumper especially difficult because Johnson couldn’t practice in the same place he competes. Not being able to lift or run on a track caused Johnson’s fitness to “drop off” during the first months of COVID.
Undeterred, Johnson and his roommates got creative and set up a mini weight room in their garage. Johnson, like many, has found ways to move forward despite the change, realizing his new schedule allows more time for workouts throughout the day. His advice for team runners like himself, “Appreciate and take advantage of the opportunities that you have with your teammates because you never know when those opportunities will be taken away.”
“Appreciate and take advantage of the opportunities that you have with your teammates because you never know when those opportunities will be taken away.”
Katie Hahn, a local working-mom, and runner/triathlete found that her fitness, besides swimming, was able to thrive during the pandemic. She was still able to run and bike and found new ways to replicate her strength training from her home. She, like many others, misses the motivation from a group workout, pushing each other forward and being able to get lunch and catch up afterward. Instead, she pushed herself, realizing that it’s “...especially important during stressful times to keep a routine and keep the endorphins flowing!”
Family has become Hahn’s new workout crew, as she and her husband “motivate each other to stay focused on our goals.” Her best advice for staying motivated during the pandemic would be to find your “why” and keep working for it.
"...especially important during stressful times to keep a routine and keep the endorphins flowing!”
Neuqua Valley sprinter, Ethan Thomas, says that he appreciates his new lifestyle and how it has allowed him to embrace family time. His hope that track and cross country will return has kept him motivated. Although he misses Coach Kennedy’s stories that “could make an hour-long run feel like 5 minutes,” Thomas continues his training, motivated to maintain his fitness for an upcoming competition season. For athletes like himself, Thomas wants them to know that “even though we are in tough times right now we need to stay focused and ready so when the time does come to compete again, we are prepared.”
He misses Coach Kennedy’s stories that “could make an hour-long run feel like 5 minutes,”
COVID may have changed our world, but here at NRC, we’re especially grateful to keep on running. When, where, and with whom we run may be different. But the reasons why we run are still the same and, in many cases, make us appreciate every track and trail all the more.