Running has become the ‘go to’ exercise for many over the last few weeks, and by its’ nature during lockdown its’ been a rather lonely endeavour.
Running clubs are in stasis and events are on hold. The social scene is still – no club running, group running, friends running.
So what benefits are there, once Covid-19 and the ‘lockdown’ recedes, to social running?
For us at both BADRAT and Flying Fox, we think there are some amazing benefits, so we thought we’d share a few key ones below.
Social! Something missing in all our lives at the moment, running with a club or at a friendly local event can become a chance to be a double winner – keeping up the exercise habit and getting a great excuse to socialise too. Winner, and something to look forward to again!
Scenery. If you’re anything like us, daily runs tend to follow rather a pattern; Same routes. Same speeds. Meh. A club or event run can bring new things; challenges, speeds, terrains, environment, styles (especially if you’re at a Flying Fox event dressing up for a fun theme!). Flying Fox do some great trails, and as people who run on a lot of roads, their events introduce all the good ‘M’s – Mud, Madness, Munchies.
Fun. Running should be fun, but so often it can be physically or mentally tough. Getting around great people who share your passion can reignite your running-flame, re-introduce the fun in running (fun is in run…almost, if you make the top of the r longer, and there is a u in both…or something). What we are trying to say is – it should be fun, so come and run.
Encouraging. Many of us run for mental as well as physical health, and a bad run, a bad day, a rubbish week can really knock us down. A supportive club or enthusiastic event series can give us a regular lift, helping so much more than ‘just’ providing another run, but also succeeding in picking us up, dusting us off and keeping us healthy in every way.
Mental Health. Mental health seems to be an increasing trend in the ‘why I run’ stats. Being part of something, having that identity as ‘a BADRAT runner’, a ‘Flying Fox Runner’ or similar can give you a support structure, help you feel included and create a run following (online especially) which provides positive comments and praise for runs. It can often be the opportunity to get outside to decompress after a long or tough day, the welcoming faces, the excuse to escape the usual 4 walls, the challenge that takes your mind off things, the mental decompression that a run can allow that makes all the difference.
Reward. Running can be thankless. Wet runs, cold runs, dark runs, hot runs, runs where it just doesn’t fall into a rhythm so it’s tough every step. And at the end of it all, on the day you want to see your results rewarded (be it a race, PB, weight, speed, and many other arbitrary measuring posts) it just goes wrong. Clubs can provide praise after a run, and understanding that occasionally it just isn’t your day. A great event can give the reward of praise, medals, jaffa cakes, spelt banana bread and can make all that hard work feel more than worth while. It is these things that help encourage you to press on and become better and better.
Support. Much of what we have discussed involves support. Support in your running, health, fitness, mental health. Positivity regarding your runs and achievements is ever so important, and a social structure from an event team, club, group can really make all the difference.
Stash! Let’s not beat around the bush, we are all in it (at least a bit) for the stash. Shirts, vests, medals, photos of yourself covered in mud with the spoils of war around your neck. You know the ones. This is a thing clubs and events are great for, especially good ones. Like us.
*Click the image to view a larger version
Now you might be thinking, "That sounds great and all but how does that help now given the current situation?" (Covid-19 for those maybe reading this in the future. This is April 2020 after all)
Well that's just it! It's probably now more than ever we need these things and they are still there for us to help provide some, if not most, of these things.
You can still get your social fix by engaging on a club page or event organiser’s Facebook page, group, twitter, whatever - it might not be quite the same, but it's something. You can still get encouragement and share your running, and you can still find new challenges and rewards, as many event organisers and running related companies are still trying to do things for runners (including with bling and other stash). And mental health, probably the most affected at this time, can be helped by keeping (virtually) social and keeping running.
It's a tough time for all, there's no arguing with that, but it is what we make it to be. So let's try and engage with the resources around us to not only support ourselves but others to. Clubs and events are still out there, and just because you can't run with them in person doesn't mean that you can't still be a part of them and still get the benefits of being a part of a group or identity.
Remember that it's physically distant - not socially distant - that we need keep.
By: Bjorn, Nathan, Pippa and Nick