Community British Columbia’s health officer pleads: Please go outside. My running is essential.

    British Columbia’s health officer pleads: Please go outside. My running is essential.

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    I like to run after work. I am a news producer and everyday is different. The top story can be politics, sports, or entertainment. 

    Most days I try to lace up a couple of hours after my shift ends. I saw British Columbia’s health officer tell people to get outside and I get it. I take my head full of stories outside and shake off the day. I usually cover the same routes because it helps me measure my progress.

    Before the pandemic I was enjoying a new relationship with running. I ran through the winter with my sights set on a half marathon this May in London, UK. I’d started working with a coach and increased my strength training. I marvelled at the sea of green on my Final Surge training calendar, marking completed workouts. Heck, I’d even signed up for the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in Los Angeles for early April. I joked with my friends that I would treat it as a long run. I was feeling great as the upcoming season looked exciting. 

    Then we found ourselves in a pandemic.

    My ambitious plans evaporated. Spring races everywhere were cancelled. 

    It was mid-March when the province declared a state of emergency and everyone was ordered to stay home. Self isolation is not an option for me, as I cannot work from home. For the past six weeks the variety of information that fills the news cycle has been dominated with COVID-19.  

    My day starts early, before the city is awake. Before the pandemic I would check to see if there was any major crime or car crashes overnight, and if the Raptors won. Now I view footage of dead bodies being wheeled out of our province’s long term care homes in white bags.

    I hear from people who are frustrated because they are unable to hug their elderly parents sick with COVID-19. And it has been tough. 

    But I have also seen the generosity of others. People are doing what they can to help local businesses, sewing masks to donate to local hospitals, or getting groceries for people in their neighbourhood who are unable to do it for themselves.

    At first I felt too exhausted to run after work. Besides, I didn’t have anything to train for, so why bother?  I lost my motivation. 

    But we don’t know how long this pandemic is going to last. In order for me to keep going I need to find enjoyment in what I can control. As I adjust to this new routine I have found the desire to get out again. 

    Right now there is a lot less pressure on time and distance. I know my route can change because of physical distancing and I am okay with that. I stop a lot more. My training calendar has a lot less green in it. And exchanging a greeting with someone I know has gone from a casual wave to a full on cheer with both hands in the air. 

    Right now it feels a little different. But that’s okay, because we are all feeling a little different. It’s important, however, that it keeps going and spending time outside is now being medically advised. 

    My half marathon goal will have to wait for now. 

    Stacey is a news producer in Toronto.