A Runner’s Dilemma

2020 had been a tough year.

As a runner, it hit really hard when the pandemic came into the forefront in March.

On the morning of March 11th, as I dressed up to head to college, my everyday routine, as I glanced through my phone to check for any important notification that I might have missed, my class had unanimously decided not to attend college that day, the pandemic had crept into my city. Alright, just a couple of days before things get back to normal we thought to ourselves, who knew these “couple of months” would eventually turn into “couple of months” and eventually almost a year, not disregarding the fact that the pandemic has not yet met its end.

Initially as the pandemic struck out, I had to halt my running. “It’s only a matter of a couple of days and eventually things will be back to where it was”, I thought to myself as I began to change my routine with the eventual disappearance of my evening runs. Couple of Days passed by, a month, two months had passed by now. As I got out of my shower, I looked at myself in the mirror and felt,” What Have I Become!” I could see an unhealthy person with a lack of any sort of energy to do anything. As I hid my face into the insides of my palm, I had a moment of self actualization. My unhealthy indiscipline in the way I carried on things was responsible for this, what was the route cause? My terrible state was due to the lack of any physical activity. That was the time when I decided, this cannot go on any further. I started to change my habits included a strict workout schedule everyday, and moved ahead with it, I continued this for a couple of months, I had become much fitter, healthier full of energy than the day I had last seen myself unhealthy.

Although I had achieved what I had started off for, I still wasn’t satisfied, something was missing, I could feel that void inside me! My legs! They were craving to go for a run now. They Desperately wanted to head out for a run. Due to the ongoing pandemic, I thought it best to run on my treadmill. Although I had been avoiding my treadmill for the last couple of years, it was now about time that I stepped back onto it. Fear of injury was what had stopped me from my treadmill, but this time my need to run was greater than my fear of getting injured on my treadmill. “It’s going to be careful and small runs”, I promised myself. Promises are meant to be broken, sooner or later. A month and a half, I stuck onto my promise, but it too had its expiry date on it, I ran with the flow of my heart, but it too has some limitations, the treadmill can only go up to a certain speed, and not beyond that, which was fine with me, only for the next few months.

2020 was close to an end now, and there were no signs of the pandemic subsiding soon. Although the vaccines are out, things would take some time to get back to where they were. I could no longer continue running on my treadmill, I needed to go outside for a run, especially now when it is my favorite running season, cold & chilly with the temperature slightly lower than usual, 18–19 degrees. Running out in the cold is a whole different feeling, as the cold wind rushes past you caressing your face as you run. A mask on my face, a sanitizer in my pocket and I was ready to head out for my run. The first couple of strides, I felt as though I was levitating! The lift-offs from the ground were too light, it felt like I was running on some other planet with its gravitational pull lesser than Earth. I was so used to the heavy lift-offs from my treadmill runs that I wasn’t prepared for this. Initially it just felt different and soon it was too jumpy for my liking. A couple of minutes into my run and observed my running form was totally off. The 3–4 months of treadmill running had ruined my natural run, my natural stride. It was about the 3km mark when I suddenly felt some sort of an extreme exhaustion, I was fatigued out within the first 3km of my run! This was very astonishing and came down on me as if I had been struck by a lightning bolt. I could not believe my stamina had reduced, considering the fact that I had consistently been running 6–7km on the treadmill. Then it hit me, I was running with a mask on! It hindered my breathing and by now I had been inhaling too much of my own carbon dioxide and had almost choked on it! Breathing well is the most important aspect of a long distance runner, and with improper breathing, you cannot run too long.

Here is where the dilemma lies now,

Running outdoors- cannot go for a long run due to the mask.

Running indoors- hinders my natural form.

Which of these should I opt for?

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