Divorce and single motherhood taught me that it is in times of adversity that we discover our greatest strengths. During the Corona pandemic I have watched people come together in their communities with extreme courage and kindness, I have watched frontline healthcare workers put their lives and that of their families at risk to treat the sick and the weak. I’ve also watched runners all over the world become innovative and show that you can literally do almost anything that you put your mind to, (although this is no comparison to what our healthcare workers do of course!).

It started with French Marathon runner Elisha Nochomovitz who has been running full and ultra-marathons on his 7-meter balcony. Just today he completed his second ‘Balcony Ultra Marathon’, running 57 kilometer in just 7 hours.

A Chinese marathoner ran 51kms around his living room.

Here in Gaborone, an avid runner and member of The Gaborone Striders Running Club – Ben Bwalya completed a full marathon in his backyard in 5 hours and 21 minutes. After a difficult and stressful week in lockdown, Ben decided to challenge himself to use the space he had and just kept going until he completed the 42 kilometers he set out to do.

Kimberly, a 30-year-old South African grade four teacher I met whilst running with The Pack Johannesburg is in lockdown with her fiancé in their apartment in De Waterkant, Cape Town. She started running 5 years ago and prefers long distance endurance running and found not being able to clock in her kilometers during the lockdown very disheartening. When she saw an article about a man in China who ran a full marathon on just his balcony, she used this as inspiration and motivation to get innovative with the space she had available to her. Kimberly and her fiancé Marc Weber began their challenge by running three kilometers in the 200m loop in the parking garage below their apartment block on their first day. As the days progressed, they increased the number of 200-meter loops and therefore the number of kilometers until yesterday they reached their goal of completing a half marathon.

At first, I sat there awestruck thinking that people had lost the plot – cabin fever maybe? But as the days in lockdown continued, I too started to become quite desperate to get longer runs in.

I was becoming quite despondent as I had run 30kms the weekend before lockdown began and am desperate to keep some sort of fitness up. Five kilometers on the treadmill just wasn’t cutting it anymore, but I had never run for more than 40 minutes on a treadmill and I find even this to be tedious and boring. I love the outdoors, sunshine, fresh air; I have always been a nature lover. Not having much of a choice during lockdown, and motivated by Kimberly’s determination, I planned a 15-kilometer run for the first Saturday morning of lockdown.

I remembered her advice on one of her posts where she said to split your run up into manageable bite size chunks and focus only on completing one segment at a time. I split the run into 3 x 5 kilometer runs with a two-minute rest interval in between. Lo and behold, 1 hour and 40 minutes later I had done it. The fact that I have displaced the furniture in my living room to put my treadmill in front of my tv helped a bit! I’m hoping next Saturday I might be able to match this effort or even increase the distance to 17 kilometers.

I have encouraged the members of The Pack Gaborone to use any space they have available to them and run where they are (mostly in their backyards). We have been getting great feedback from all the ladies with amazing pictures and happy smiling faces. If you are under strict lockdown conditions at present, I encourage you to use the space that you have and take inspiration and motivation from these amazing athletes just as I have.

Move your body, stay healthy, stay safe.

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