Let's quickly cast our mind back to 7pm on 31st October 2020. You're probably one of three people:
You're already half pissed in a bar to beat the 10pm UK curfew.
You're sweating to hell and back from your late night workout.
You've got a takeaway Nando's and about to start the weekly Netflix binge.
...no matter who you are, you're suddenly absolutely gutted. Boris has just announced a second national lockdown, and we know full well we're in for the long run.
Whilst the initial stage of quarantine was of course scary, challenging, and took a toll on all of our mental healths, it was also something new...and warm. We had the blazing hot weather, we baked all the banana breads, Chloe Ting was our best-friend and Amazon sold out of jigsaw puzzles faster than I was getting through Netflix series. Lockdown 2.0 Winter Edition was not going to hit the same and we all knew it.
The icing on top of this pretty shitty cake was the fact that Boris deemed that gyms and fitness centres were non-essential and therefore decided to close them, despite many people and petitions arguing against this. This man not only took our nights out but our mental strength with him, cheers hun! With a number of studies and statistics proving that people use exercise as a way of keeping not only physically but mentally healthy, the active among us had no choice but to seek an easy, lockdown friendly alternative. And with the weather being a million degrees colder than it was in May, burpees and planks in the garden wasn't really an option for me anymore...I had to venture out of the Instagram/YouTube workout game.
It was only a matter of time until the Couch to 5K App and my busted Nike shoes (that are definitely not meant for running...) came back out and I felt a new lease of life. No gyms? No problem. I was finally going to enjoy running.
In life I have aspired to be many things. The ultimate goal being to live in New York, then to be a journalist, then, to be a person whose preferred method of exercise is running. Whilst to you it may seem that the first two ambitions may be more out of reach than the other, it is actually the latter that seems more impossible to me. My outlook on running is that you're either built for it or you're not. You're either good at it or you're not. It's not like hip thrusts, the bench press or even riding a bike; no matter how hard you try, some things just aren't meant to be and running is one of them.
So, you may be asking, what is the point? Why did you purchase that arm phone strap and new gym clothing set to participate in a sport you hate? You're right, I do hate it. I am currently three weeks in to the Couch To 5K App, and no matter how many times Jo Wiley tells me "you're amazing" and "keep going" , the surge of anger that darts around my brain never seems to fade. Yet every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning I repeat the same 30 minute course.
Because mentally, I need it. In a period of my life where I am furloughed with all the time in the world to think, my mental health seems to be spiralling more than ever. My brain has been desperately craving something that distracts me from my thoughts and feelings that this year has consumed me with-even if it's just for half an hour. I admit that yes, every time I run my Spotify playlist is blocked out because my inner self is dramatically screaming in pain, but that almost makes it worth it-I am able to channel all negative emotions into this sport and quite literally run away from these feelings. Of course I feel pride and success when I've reached a new squat PB at the gym, but it really is no comparison to the release of endorphins that carry me through the rest of the day. There really is something about that 'runners high' they talk about.
The personal benefits don't just end there either. Instead of laying awake until 3am drowned in my own thoughts, running exhausts me to the point I am falling asleep by the ripe time of 9pm. It is also something I can talk about around the dinner table: something I felt I no longer had due to the not-goings on in my life at the moment.
As the recent government announcement unveiled that gyms will reopen next week, I am not completely certain whether I will continue this love-hate relationship with running or not...but for now I am soaking all the endorphins in. Will I be putting it at the top of 'things I loved in 2020' list? Absolutely not. But is the heavy breathing, sweat and calve ache worth the serotonin and mental strength I have for the rest of that day?
Oh my god, definitely.