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Mark Armstrong: Why running is always there when we need it

Mark Armstrong on a training run. Picture: Alison Armstrong

Mark Armstrong on a training run. Picture: Alison Armstrong

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In these strange, frightening times the sense of normality running provides is so vital for a lot of people.

The second thing I do each day is scroll through my Facebook feed, which is packed full of my running friends, who have already got their one piece of exercise in for the day.

I wish I could say that I find it inspirational.

But my first action of the day prompts a somewhat overwhelmed feeling. When I check the news on my phone I desperately hope that someone, far more intelligent than me, has plotted a clear path to get us through this coronavirus pandemic, which has touched everyone’s lives.

But it only brings news of more disruption, more positive tests and more deaths. Even more worrying is that it seems there are still some people who are not heeding the government advice to stay at home as much as possible (I realise it’s complicated) to protect our NHS and the wonderful work they are doing.

I know going out for a run would make me feel better but for some reason I can’t bring myself to get out the front door.

Keeping on top of a very different work situation, home-schooling our six-year-old daughter, Lara, and entertaining our two-year-old son, Logan, are the kind of daily challenges my wife, Alison, and I didn’t see coming.

Throw in the fact we’ve just moved house and you have a fairly stressful situation. I’m not moaning about our lot... far from it. We’re very lucky and it’s the prospect of all that being taken away that keeps me awake at night.

I know it would do me good but the thought of going for a run by the time the kids are in bed is laughable.

We are at least getting some exercise thanks to Joe Wicks’ 9am workouts on YouTube aimed primarily at children... it’s better than nothing I figure.

The only thing that’s getting me through is the hope that this situation will get better.

There will come a time, hopefully in the not too distant future, when a new routine has been formed, one that sees Alison and I actually wanting to go for a run.

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For the moment though neither of us are beating ourselves up. We are all just doing our best to get through these unprecedented times.

It looks like the situation is going to get worse, but eventually things will improve.

There are definitely lessons to be learned as Neil alluded to in his column last week. Whilst a running race in a few months’ time felt like something to worry about, recent events show that it really isn’t. Our overall health is much more important than anything.

The other lesson is that of community, whether than be through your family, your friends or through your running.

As a species I don’t believe we’re meant to be in isolation – that’s why this disease is so cruel because it’s the only method we have of controlling it at present.

We’re meant to talk to each other, help each other, be there for each other. It’s important to remember that we can still do all those things but they have to be in different ways for the foreseeable future.

There will be a new ‘normal’ once this has passed and who knows what that looks like?

One thing I’m very confident of is that running will still be there for all of us.

That community won’t go away.

That first parkrun back is going to feel glorious, they better start ordering some more tokens now such will be the demand.

There will be so much talking at that first club training session back that there will barely be any time to run.

And that first event... well that makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck.

Stay safe everyone.


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