2020 Season Recap: What it felt like not to run

Usually every year around this time I do a season recap and even though I didn’t do a single in person race this year I still want to talk about it. 2020 was a really weird (and sucky) year for everyone. I’ve talked a little about how it was for me (and us) here and there in passing but truthfully this year really took me away from running. We have been incredibly lucky dealing with the pandemic locally, personally and professionally and it’s probably time for a bit of a ‘talk’ in that regard. At the very least I’ve done some reflecting on not running much this year. So here goes in place of telling you about the year I’d planned here’s the lear that happened for me instead.

What I’d planned

I didn’t have a really firm plan for this year but then again in some ways I did. I was firmly base building in February for a my first full marathon in October if I stayed healthy. At the time I was talking knees and hips but that evolved too. I knew that I’d be taking huge chunks of time away later in the year so I decided not to do the frostbite 5 miler in February this year. Regret that now! My plan was to do the 15k at Bluenose at the end of May, a half somewhere along the way and a weekend getaway in early October for the PEI marathon. I kept up the training for that 15k until the start of May when it was pretty clear there was no point for a plan this year. By June my running had dropped off to almost nothing. PS it’s not like I filled that time with cycling, swimming or paddling instead.

Why we’re so lucky

 My little province and the few around me have turned out to be the least COVID ridden place in North America and most of the world actually. The New York Times even wrote about it. With the exception of a couple of dozen (you read that right) cases popping up every 3 months or so we’ve just had the odd returning traveler. Here’s the thing though we had all the tough restrictions earlier, longer and have been keeping them up now. We canceled the school year entirely, closed daycares and locked down all but the most essential services until we had literally no community spread. Even now gatherings are set to 10, public events are canceled and we all have to wear masks even now. It’s pretty funny (or weird) to zoom with our US relatives and have them tell us how ridiculous it was to have restrictions on parks and playgrounds as long as we did. Sorry guys it seems to have worked!

Professionally we’ve had a really busy year! Construction was never shut down and all this started with us on a months long job in a vacant house. So our income was fine. Then we just got busier as all the people working from home started wanting the things driving them crazy fixed RIGHT NOW! For my side hustle gardening business it seemed like a good summer to say yes to everyone since there was no real reason to make running a priority. As day work kept being just as busy getting time to also work on my own business got a bit stressful. Up until September getting everything done was all we could really focus on. Since the middle of September I’ve been back to running a little more and even completed two of my virtual races since then.

What not running felt like

In a word or two, not great. It’s not like I was doing something else that was a reasonable stand in for running either. I didn’t get on my bike at all this summer and I think I went paddling twice. I did get the odd quick swim in, mostly at customers houses though when I got too hot gardening. Maybe a couple of times when we went out to the island too but each time we got chased back to work by a rain cloud. I took on some work with an ‘interesting’ customer so that I could buy honey a super duper birthday/1st anniversary present and that weighed on me. I could have run some fast kms then! Being as busy as we were at our regular day job and with that, the very idea of taking time for a run made me feel guilty. The only time I could reasonably think about running was before 6 am or after dark and with everything going on sleep just seemed more important.

But I really missed it. My mood wasn’t the greatest and I would say my mental health suffered a bit as well. Not in any big way but I was definetly more irritable and I felt more alone. I also felt like I was lacking perspective too. I felt a bit like everyone was not on my side let’s just say and I know I was hard to deal with which I apologize for. Not running for a while made me realize all the things it does for me. Things I knew but had forgotten how important they were.

I was however working physically like crazy. I think I spread well over 100 yards of much which I shovelled off the truck. Built all sorts of rock walls, and dug one hell of a lot of holes. Throw a wharf or two in the mix and I was getting my movement in for sure! I didn’t really worry about whether or not I was losing fitness because one, there wasn’t anything I could do about it and two, I was pretty sure I was at least gaining some in a different way. Which brings us to a question that I know is on everyone’s mind. Did I notice any changes in my body basically not running for three or 4 months. The answer is yes and no. Like everyone else out there I too gained the quaren-ten. Well more like 5. Which I’ll be honest I didn’t love. I feel like I lost and gained those 5 pounds at least 6 times in those 4 months. But… I still have my abs, well morning abs at least and when I did go for my first run in 70 days I ran 5k, 5 seconds per km slower than the last one with no problems. 

I guess it’s time to talk virtual then

I kinda, sorta did 5 virtual runs this year, maybe only 2 should count. So let’s get into it.

May 17th – Bluenose giver’ anyway/ mother’s day run

My mom and I usually go running together for mother’s day since she became a runner a few years ago. And the week before Bluenose was supposed to happen in May the race organizers put together a digital bib and a hashtag so I called this run that as well. We weren’t in my mom’s bubble family at the time so we did a 6 foot distanced run that day. No pictures were taken at the time.

The marathon academy – Social distancing run

Pretty soon after this all started I had good intentions thinking that there was a chance this would all blow over so I should keep running as if I might still do a full marathon in October. Which I kinda half assed did. At least for February, March and April I did keep going as if a 15k in May might still happen. So I hopped online and found a virtual run which you were supposed to do at least 5k to ‘earn’ the medal. After Bluenose announced there was no chance my plans went to pot. So… I actually did this run on my first run back on September 9th. I planned on a shorter run but texted honey that I was going to do 5 and to get my medal ready for me when I got home. Which he did and it felt great!

Sole sister’s 5k and little miss sole sister’s

My mom did her first 10k last year at Sole sister’s and fell in love. So when registration opened up this year I’m pretty sure my mom, me and my little niece were one of the first ones registered. This race too went virtual and we were given until the end of the year to complete it. Then… my mom broke her arm so we put that off too. But she recently passed a big milestone in running. She was about to pass the 1000 km mark so we did a 5k that day as part of our Sole Sister’s virtual run. We also set up a really cool 100 m dash for my niece later that day. I made her a video so she could watch it again and again!

Bluenose virtual

Bluenose, our big race around these parts, didn’t get canceled right away, the rescheduled until November around other races that weren’t yet canceled. The race organizers did submit a plan to public health but it was denied so it was to be a virtual race. They were a little less flexible with dates though and did urge us to complete it on the scheduled weekend. Remember that I did sign up for a 15k way back when but since I hadn’t been running a whole lot I did half the distance. Race organizers did say to do what ever you want but I’m not totally sure this should count. It was a great run and the weather cooperated so I did it in a running skirt in November!

So that was my 2020 ‘race season’ and running season such that it was. I know that for many runners 2020 wasn’t a great year either. But I also know that 2020 was a year that lots of bored pent up people got desperate and started running again or for the very first time. Maybe you had a great 2020 running as a regular runner and that’s great for you. If you had a year like me though don’t stress about it, no door is ever really closed for good. There’s always next year *crosses fingers. This year might have been a banner year for welcoming new runners and that’s totally okay, after all we have all the other years right! What was your running season like? Leave it in the comments below!

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