Staying Motivated During A Global Pandemic

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Being an athlete can be tough in an era of social distancing.

Following the rapid spread of COVID-19 — and national recommendations to limit gatherings to 10 people or less — sporting events across the country have shut down. In the running world, COVID-19 has cancelled hundreds of track meets, road races and even official practices.

But it hasn’t cancelled our training.

It’s easy to make excuses and cut corners during indefinite periods of uncertainty — especially when unsupervised. So, I asked the running community to share their strategies for staying motivated during a global pandemic:

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Mariah Haight

“I feel like runners, compared to most athletes, have it the best. We have our shoes, and we can get away. We can socially distance ourselves by doing what we love. I’m a little bummed about not having practice, but it helps to remember that we still get to do what we love when a lot of people don’t have that same opportunity.” — Mariah Haight, Augustana University sophomore

“I was very excited for this year, and I think what has kept me motivated the most is knowing that I’m not going to let COVID-19 take something I love and cherish and taint it. I wake up and run for the love of the sport, not because someone is telling me to run.” — Hunter Shanks, Bennington High School senior

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Molly Boyum

“This is a time when I can focus just on my running and my future goals. Also, it’s a time to just get away from all the craziness on the news. While other sports can’t practice because of facilities being shut down and such, I can still go out and run, and that’s something that can’t be taken away.” — Molly Boyum, Augustana University sophomore

“Right now, I’m taking a break after learning that my time in the NAIA is over. Once classes start after spring break, I’m planning to run 5-6 days a week. With the uncertainties of the next few months, running gives my days structure. I deal with severe anxiety, and running helps me so much, because it helps me focus and relax.” — Emily Grant, Hastings College senior

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PJ English

“It’s about the process, not the outcome. It’s easy to be motivated by times or places, but those things are irrelevant when an injury (or in this case a virus) cuts your season short. I’m using this time to remind myself that running is about much more than competing. The cancellation of the outdoor season is a time to get ahead, mentally and physically. Running, like life, contains ups and downs. I’m working on remaining positive and controlling the things I can control rather than worrying about the things I can’t.” — PJ English, Augustana University sophomore

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Endre Wigaard (yellow)

“If you’re healthy, listen to the ‘injured you’ from the past. At the lowest point (mentally) during your injury, you probably told yourself that the only thing you want to do is to run. In other words, not even a pandemic could stop you from running if you were healthy. If you are injured right now, this is a blessing. There is time to build back as slowly as needed.” — Endre Wigaard, Augustana University senior

“This virus can take our season, but it will never take away the speed demons inside of us. Social distancing and shutdowns change nothing. Just look at Rocky; he didn’t need a weight room or a single dumbbell, and neither do we, because we trust and rely on ourselves to find an alternative. One day we will run one last time. How do you want to feel when it’s over? Looking back at this spring, I want to say that even though I wasn’t competing, I tested myself.” — Sydney Settles, Chadron State College sophomore

*Responses edited for length and clarity

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