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A Runners View: The Threat of Normality

If there was one phrase I hate more than any of the varied Covid lexicon that entered our lives over the last year, it would be ‘the new normal’. Yes, there were benefits in some of the changes forced upon us over the last year, not least of all the chance many of us got to slow down and reflect on our lives in the Spring of 2020. Overall though I miss much of normality and look forward to it’s gradual return this year. I’m a hugger at heart and I miss giving my mates and family a hug, I miss being in a crowded pub or a crowded start line of a race and I miss managing a restaurant doing a roaring trade on a Saturday night with the place packed to the rafters.

However, there has been one clear personal benefit to the ‘new normal’ we’ve been living in, running has taken on an increased importance with my running form at it’s best in many a year. As we entered lockdown in March 2020 I was just returning from a hamstring injury. When I started running as we entered lockdown it was often the one bit of purpose in my day as my 45 hour per week job disappeared and we all learnt the term furlough. My runs started at 10-20 minutes and it became a daily commitment. Before I knew it 2 weeks had passed of running everyday, and then a month. It just felt right, as if I’d been doing it wrong all along by not running daily. Some days my legs would hurt from the previous days exertions but with no races and no running partners there was no ego telling me to run faster so I could just slow down and become attuned to the signals my body offered me.

In the end I would run everyday from March 22nd to 4th October when a freak side injury stopped me in my tracks. I restarted in early November and since have wracked up another streak. What’s the point you may ask? Whilst running has always been an important part of my life with big goals and dreams, the nature of the last 12 months allowed it to become even more important. It’s now a non negotiable part of my day, whether that means setting a crack of dawn alarm or a run just before midnight, the run has to happen. Without fail I feel better mentally and physically after a run. Equally where as in the past I might plan to run 5 days in a week but only run 3, that negotiation is no longer on the table.

And yet now it looks as if we are heading back towards a form of relative normality, starting on April 12th, and progressing through May and into the summer. My diary is filling up with social events, birthdays, long overdue get togethers and races. On top of that I know they’ll be lots of impromptu dinner and pub invites, bbqs and park get togethers.

My excitement is palpable, but I’m also worried. Why you ask? What happens when you cut that 10 miler down to 5 to make it to dinner with friends? Or you stay out that little bit too late on a Friday night and botch Saturday’s session? Or the week gets away from you and you don’t hit the weekly mileage you’d previously been hitting week after week!

I feel in the form of my life with my running and I don’t want to lose that. Over the last 12 months I’ve seen fellow clubmates achieve PB after PB and I’m certain it’s from the same effect! They’ve prioritised their training in the hierarchy of life and have reaped the rewards. Yet now we slow re-enter a busier world. The question is now who will manage to walk the tightrope best between long accrued form and that in built human desire to be social?

At the end of the day it will all come down to choice, I know already they’ll be tough calls to be made. It’ll just be like it was before, sometimes we’ll need to be disciplined. Which just hasn’t been the case for most of the last year!

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