Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, running has taken on a very different look. With no races and no group runs, we’ve all become lone soldiers, running solo mile after solo mile, eagerly awaiting the day we can crowd the start line of a race, or even just hug our running buddies again. For many, motivation to train may be at an all-time low, and you may be noticing that the pace you normally run has slowed significantly as a result. For all the runners in this situation, we have a PSA for you: cut yourself some slack.
This year has been stressful for most of us, and running should help to relieve some of that stress, not add to it. If you’re looking at your watch and berating yourself because you’re slower than usual, perhaps it’s time to set the watch down, forget about intervals, tempo runs and training stats and just run for running’s sake.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with training right now, and if you’re feeling motivated and still enjoying that process, by all means, go for it. But if trying to maintain fitness or follow a strict training plan is adding to your stress, now is the perfect time to take a break from it. Races will be back one day, and when they are, you’ll be able to set goals and attack them with renewed enthusiasm. Until then, it might be time to adjust your mindset and simply use running as a tool to make you feel good.
Running is a powerful tool for reducing stress and improving your mental health if you use it properly, so get outside, breath in the fresh air and don’t fret over how fast or slow you are — those gut-busting group track sessions will be back before you know it.