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  • Jakob Irwin

Runners Unite!

Just five weeks ago I was on a business trip in Chicago. I went out to dinner at some amazing restaurants with my coworkers and even went to a Chicago Bulls Game with them. It was the first NBA game I had been to in almost 9 years.


I was running each day while I was in Chicago and enjoying the sites. This was especially exciting for me because I knew that come this October, I would be competing in the Chicago Marathon, a race that I have been looking forward to for a long time. The weather was cold in Chicago but full of sunshine. Everyone had smiles and was in good spirits


Little did I know that This trip to Chicago would be my last trip for the foreseeable future and the last time I would see many of my friends and coworkers for the same foreseeable future.


So much has changed in just five weeks in lieu of the spread of the Corona Virus. A virus that has impacted everyone around the world.


The NBA, NFL, MLB and other major sports organizations have shut down there seasons or postponed them. Countries, cities, counties...are closing off borders and implementing orders to stay at home, making it more and more difficult for athletes and the athletic minded to continue to do what they love most.


For those of us that are runners, it is the cancellation of races around the globe that has caused the biggest devastation in our community. The Marathon Olympic Trials and the LA Marathon were the last of the major marathons to take place before all races started to cancel. The Tokyo Marathon still took place but was limited to strictly the elite runners. The Boston Marathon was postponed. The Olympic Games scheduled for this year have been postponed to 2021.


This has lead to a series of rumbles and grumbles across the running world from everyone that has spent all winter and longer in training for these various races. And why not? No one just shows up to a marathon right? the training and financial commitment for these races is some of the most difficult things many runners will ever go through, with the award for all there hard work being the actual race itself. But now this opportunity has been taken away from them.


But lately I have been seeing a new trend within the running community. What I am starting to see now is runners from all over the world come together in a way that I never thought I would witness in my life time. While there are still some negative remarks floating around, the amount of positive vibes circulating the runners online realm is incredible to witness.


Now people are starting to commit to more virtual races and are actually enjoying them. Runners are sharing more of there insight publicly and offering words of encouragement to complete strangers. I personally posted a piece on how I ran my fastest half marathon the day after the passing of my sister, and received so far over a thousand interactions from complete strangers indicating that there thoughts were with me. Essentially, rather than people giving up on there training in these rough times, I am finding more and more people actively seeking inspiration to continue there training. Even those that are quarantined and forced to stay indoors, I am hearing stories of them running laps in there living rooms and on there balconies. They have the biggest excuse to not run, but instead they are choosing to find even the smallest reasons to keep running. It has become truly inspiring.


I was recently interviewed for a local newspaper and asked about what has changed with my training since all of my races have been cancelled so far. My answer was simple. "just because I am not training for a race doesn't mean I am going to stop training. Running is running whether there is a race to train for or not." So my training, has maintained its course as if there was a race on the horizon.


Sure, the way in which I train has had to be adjusted over the last few weeks. All my runs are done solo now rather than being able to do my longer runs with the typical group I would do them with. And the time of day that I train has changed too simply because I have more free time during the day to do so. But my mileage, the level of my workouts, my effort in general, none of this has changed.


I have even found myself becoming more inspired to do more community based events within the online running world. Most recently, I got a group of friends together and created our own little virtual 15k race. None of us lived in the same place and many of us were in different states, but I wanted to mix some fun competition into our routines that we were lacking due to some of our cancelled races.


I will admit that I found myself enjoying the arts and crafts side of this project more than I thought I would as I ended up making my own medals to give out to some of the top finishers. We laughed, we smiled, we joked, and we competed. and I learned which super glue works the best with wood and plastic.


I have also found myself becoming more inspired to pursue my goal of becoming an online coach and have even taken on 4 clients that I am volunteering my coaching to for learning and development purposes. Once classes become available again, I plan on obtaining my Coaching certification through the RRCA.


Aside from the continued training and the arts and crafts projects, I find myself with more time to organize my thoughts, and my shoes! It has been essentially a time of zen and self discovery as I have been able to sit back and analyze myself and my needs within the running world. This has led to me running some of my best workout times in many years.


Yes, it is beyond devastating what is happening around the world right now. But it is inspiring to see at least the strength of the runners on this planet. No matter what your ability is, where you are from, how old you are, what your sex is...you have found a way to inspire others even if you don't even realize it.


Keep being awesome, never give up, lets continue to show not just the sports world, but the world in general, why runners will forever be some of the greatest form of athletes the world has ever known!



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