Pools are closed. Road races are canceled, and everything is on hold.
Don’t look now, but there’s a new running boom quietly afoot. You see them everywhere. New folks in your neighborhood decked out in old tennis shoes and cloth shorts, testing out their new-found running legs. They’re easy to spot. Working hard up a hill, or over-striding but eager. They are learning about endurance. The first couple times you see them, they’re struggling, but as the weeks go by, you might notice a change in their expressions: THEY HAVE DISCOVERED RUNNING!
With gyms and pools closed, coronavirus has sparked people to go back to basics, and there is no more basic sport than running. As an article in the New York Times put it, “It’s the perfect sport for a pandemic. All you need is a pair of shoes and a six-foot buffer from the next person.”
Indeed it is. Running has long been one of the most accessible sports to the masses, and now more than ever, people are finding a need to get outside their homes and on the move. In a sense, it’s a silver lining to what we’re going through, because it’s highly likely that many of the newly converted runners will stick with it and the population will become more fit.
It’s been established by medical experts that you’re far less likely to be exposed to coronavirus outdoors, as long as you are not in a crowded setting for a sustained period. That’s easily solved with running, as most of Austin’s neighborhood streets are wide open, and it’s easy to maintain distance when necessary. Fortunately, we live in one of the most runner friendly environments. Even with social distancing, Austin runners should count their blessings. With endless trails, and plenty of greenbelts, we’ve got it pretty good. And as a bonus, being out in nature is well-documented to have a powerful anti-stress effect.
The new runners are learning something we’ve long known: We know how to endure. That quality is well-suited for getting through this pandemic.
So the next time you spot one of those newbies, give ‘em that slight nod or wave that says, hey, you’re a runner and I’m a runner, and we get it. And if you get a chance tell them to stop by Ready to Run for some real running shoes and maybe some tech shorts, shirts and singlets!