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How the COVID-19 Pandemic Changed Runners and the Running World

How the COVID-19 Pandemic Changed Runners and the Running World

How the COVID-19 Pandemic Changed Runners and the Running World

 As our world increasingly started to look like a much more boring version of The Walking Dead universe, it took many people a while to realize that yes, this is our new reality — we're living under the shadow of a pandemic. Most of the activities that we took for granted until not that long ago suddenly became either impossible or were radically transformed. Millions of athletes and fitness lovers could no longer head for the gym, take a refreshing morning swim, go to soccer practice, or relax at their yoga class.

In this slightly surreal landscape, running turned out to have several distinct advantages. You can run while entirely sticking to the recommended social distancing measures. And, if you were going stir crazy while working from home and generally spending way too much time there, a good run proved to be even more liberating than it ever had.

How has the pandemic transformed the running world? Well, of the countless pandemic-related research studies that have emerged since the virus made its appearance on the world stage, not that many have focused solely on running. One study that investigated young recreational and competitive long-distance runners, however, made some interesting findings. 

Initially, it found runners slashed both their mileage and the number of hard runs they attempted during the virus's first wave. This finding has a lot to do with the fact that runners had missed out on the solidarity they find in their teams and the guidance from their coaches. It means, ultimately, that the achievements runners made during the worst period arose purely from their own commitment and motivation.

Likely because runners suddenly perceived the need to go to the doctor or the emergency department as incredibly dangerous (and for a good reason), they've also taken extra care to avoid injuries — by taking better care of their bodies. What's interesting is that, even when measures eased up, the injuries didn't bounce back up to their former rates. That is a positive sign.

Another significant change in the running world? When the world finally goes back to normal (let's stay positive here!), people who have been missing out on the motivation and camaraderie from their running team meet-ups might find a whole bunch of newcomers. Both in a bid to stay fit and healthy- and an uncomplicated escape from the daily grind and find an outlet for their stress- countless people who never ran before the pandemic have taken up this sport.

If you’re one of them, it’s crucial to make sure you have the right running shoes and running gear to prevent chafing, as well as some excellent sunscreen and sunglasses. Experienced runners may only have one new addition to contend with in the form of a face mask if they're unable to find genuinely secluded spots for their runs.

Running itself may have a distinctly solitary flavor now, but remember that the running world hasn't gone anywhere. Online, countless skilled and experienced runners are happy to share their tips with those who have only just started; and maintain the team spirit that members of running teams are aching to return to someday soon.

[You can find the referenced study here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7739837/]

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