On March 22, I received the email I knew was coming: the May 50K I’d been training for over the last four months was being postponed to October. There’s a phrase I’ve heard friends tell runners before their marathon, “the hay is in the barn,” meaning you’ve done everything you can to prepare for your race—now you just have to go do it. I felt like I’d filled my barn with half the hay and then someone burned my barn down.
I took a day to feel a little crushed, then deliberately chose to flip the switch. I am healthy. I am quarantining with my favorite person in the world (my husband). I have a job. Spring is in full bloom in Seattle. This is just a race.
While in the first few days of quarantine, I was working out seemingly all the time (push-up challenge? Virtual November Project workout? Online yoga with Maggie? I could do it all!) but by week three I was taking more “rest days” than I’ve taken in years. I needed to discover new motivations for running. Here’s what I came up with.
Set unique destinations to visit
With all of the state and national parks closing, as well as major city parks on weekends, I set a goal to run or bike to all of the small parks in north Seattle. I pulled a list of parks off of the Seattle city data portal and create routes that pass me by as many as possible every day. After my runs, I look up facts about each park that I visited, which has taught me so much about the history of our city.
Interested in trying this in your city? The search terms I used were “[City Name] Parks Data.” Here’s Chicago!
Make it art!
A few years ago, when I was living in Chicago, I started what I called Strava Art Club. I’d put together runs that drew all sorts of shapes with our GPS, a giraffe, a camel, a cactus… and I’d invite anyone to join. Sometimes we’d have over 30 people twisting and turning through the alleys of Chicago while I yelled to passerbys, “We’re running an elephant!” It was a blast.
When I moved to Seattle last summer, I put together a couple Strava Art Club runs and was shocked by how excited my new community was to join in on the fun.
A few weeks ago, I started to take my Strava Art Club virtual. I choose a weekly shape, post an event on Facebook, and then friends from around the world have been running their own map or one that I create for them. It makes my morning to wake up and see friends out there running, walking or biking the weekly design and sharing stories of how Strava Art gets them out of the house during quarantine. Turns out, I wasn’t the only one seeking new motivations for running.
The excitement of my virtual community around the Strava Art challenges also motivated me to do some things well outside of my normal comfort zone, including a 20-miler of bunnies and my first ever marathon in the shape of a whale.
Local friends cheered me on (from 6 feet away) and my husband put together an aid station with pickles, a water bladder exchange, and the sweetest sign ever—plus joined me for the last 8 miles.
Although I said I’d never run a road marathon, there’s a lot of things I never thought would happen going on lately, so why not turn them into something positive?
What are you using as a way to motivate during these unique times? Share your finding new motivations for running with us!