I would like to start off by explaining that this post is in no way intended to make light of the very bleak situation we as a human race are being faced with currently. Neither am I oblivious or insensitive to the suffering that is being caused by the Corona virus across the globe. I simply hope to make someone in the world smile and have a better (less panicked) day when they read this. My intention is to help other runners out there come to terms with the fact that we are all in the same boat right now and to focus on your unique skillset which can help carry us through these difficult and uncertain times.
Saturday 28thMarch 2020 - swept up in my friends’ marathon training schedule and having more free time than I am accustomed to since universities were ordered to close, I accompanied my running buddy on her 30km training run. I hadn’t run this far since before breaking my ankle two years ago, and I didn’t even know if I could. Me being me - my husband will tell you how stubborn and single minded I am when it comes to running, I just went with it. We finished in very high spirits, with extremely tired legs and a bittersweet goodbye. We knew this may well be the last time we saw one another for a long while and might be the last time we had the luxury of running outdoors.
A couple of days later the announcement was made by our President for a (supposed) 28-day nationwide lockdown with very strict rules, no going out except to get food or to seek medical attention, and therefore no running.
My heart sank. Running and fitness are my passions. I suffer from anxiety and depression as well as an auto-immune disease and running has been my sanity for 10 years now.
Panic started to set in, even though I am lucky enough to own a treadmill, every runner knows it is not the same and because of my anxiety and depression, running outdoors in nature and the fresh air, make a huge difference to me. There have been several studies done with regards to physical exercise and its effects on those who suffer from depression. I stopped taking prescription anti-depressants almost a year ago; would I end up back on them because of this? More panic. I cannot even explain to you the feelings that this dredged up for me.
My husband and I were about to start redecorating our home and renovating our restaurant with the aim to open the new restaurant on June 1st. There is no way this would happen now. Businesses have been told to shut for at least twenty-eight days, with the possibility of up to six months and we cannot get supplies from neighboring South Africa. What will happen to our sources of income? All our plans? My degree? Our children’s education? So much uncertainty.
Developing a daily routine and finding things to keep me motivated and place my focus elsewhere has helped me keep my anxiety slightly under control.
I wake at 5:30/6:00am to the sound of our chickens cock-a-doodle-doo-ing, have my morning coffee, do a 50-minute HIIT workout, shower and dress (no sweatpants yet) and make a healthy breakfast to enjoy with my family. I study until 12:00, then cook lunch. After lunch I read, write and rest and at 4pm I run on the treadmill or get my kids outside exercising. In the evening we cook dinner, watch Netflix and are in bed by 10:00pm. The morning workouts and short treadmill runs help give me the endorphin rush that I so badly crave.
As the days have gone by, I have spent plenty of time with my loved ones which is an absolute luxury for me. I have taught them how to use a dishwasher, make their own beds, sweep the floor and make eggs on toast for themselves. We started a family book club and are reading William Golding’s ‘Lord of The Flies’ which surprisingly was my 12-year-old son’s choice. I write that beaming with pride. I am learning Setswana (our national language in Botswana) online which is something I always meant to do but never seemed to have the time for.
My husband and I bake wholegrain bread, cook healthy plant-based meals and are using an array of fruits, veggies and herbs grown in our own little garden (with the help of our gardener who has magic green fingers!). Our kids exercise and play in the sandpit, the way kids used to. Neighbours check on one another and offer to do grocery runs for each other.
Life has slowed down…
I have always been quite self-conscious and self-critical of my looks. As the days pass, I find I take more time to take care of myself, but I am less critical and much more accepting. What I perceived as a huge flaw before, doesn’t seem that important in our present situation. I have watched women I know (mostly through Instagram) peel off the layers – weaves, extensions, acrylic nails, fake lashes, fillers, botox - it’s all impossible to keep up the charade now. Women around me, myself included, are embracing their natural beauty more and more. If you’re in hiding, this is a good time to start the self-love process, I know I am definitely working on it.
Amidst the panic, uncertainty, fear and mayhem, I have a newfound respect for the smaller blessings in life; I found new innovative ways to do things and adopted a different perspective. I am grateful for having our basic needs met such a shelter, warmth, food, security and for the luxuries we take for granted every day like having a backyard for my children to play in and a garden to sit in, running water, electricity, animals to play with and keep us company, books to read. I think of and pray daily for those in more dire circumstances than us.
Whilst we wait with bated breath to hear what our Leaders decide our futures might look like -our minds, bodies, environments and way of life seem to be resetting themselves to a natural rhythm, one to which Mother Nature is the conductor. All we can do is surrender to the fact that we are now the paper tiger in this narrative and the truth of our inconsequence in it all.