Running through the Pandemic – Motivation in COVID Times

Running through the pandemic

Almost exactly one year ago, I started writing this blog post under the title: “Everything On Hold” – I bemoaned the cancellation of the races I had planned to run in 2020. I ended on a hopeful note that we might have races again in the autumn. Then things really started to go sideways and, well, I never published that post. In fact, I stopped blogging altogether.

At the end of last February, we had just returned from Mexico – and I wrote my very last blog post about running in Mazatlan. At the time, the pandemic still seemed like something that was happening elsewhere. It didn’t seem likely to have a big impact on our lives here.

Boy, were we wrong.

The last real life finish line I crossed was West Van Run at the beginning of March. In retrospect, I wonder if I really should have hugged as many people as I did; at the same time, those hugs ended up being the last hugs I’ve had from anyone but my husband in over a year. I think that’s what I’ve missed the most about all of this (gestures vaguely) – the human connection.

West Van Run 2020

I’ve been running solo ever since. And while I’m OK with that, the fact that I have no choice in the matter if I want to abide by public health orders and protect my family and friends…that’s been the toughest part.

What has motivated me to keep running through the pandemic?
A wee bit of everything…

Virtual Races – the decision by a lot of race directors to go virtual made total sense, especially when all of the medals and swag had already been ordered. My 2020 race calendar ended up including four virtual races. I have to admit, there’s something rather anticlimactic about crossing an imaginary finish line alone and getting your medal out of an envelope. Still, these events motivated me to get out and push myself a bit harder than usual. My first virtual race of 2021 – the RunGo Dash for Dogs!

Virtual race medals
BMO Vancouver Marathon Relay
West Van Run – North Van Run

Run Challenges – back in December, I participated in Run Rudolph Run for the very first time! This involved 24 days of running, with various options related to distance and order. The ‘traditional’ RRR involves 1km on December 1 up to 24km on December 24. I elected to do a more varied schedule that took me from 1km to 12km over 12 days, and the same again for another 12 days (for a total of 156km). Thanks to Jeremy and Debra for bringing this event to life!

Another inspiring challenge – Ready 2 Run 4 Fun, hosted by my friend Karin – combined running with various activities to help improve posture, technique and efficiency. Completing lines on a bingo card, I actually won a cozy bamboo hoodie from my friend Bev at CA5 Athletics!

CA5 Athletics hoodie

CMTR Scavenger Hunt(s) – when I first heard about the Coast Mountain Trail Running Summer Scavenger Hunt, I was skeptical and a bit intimidated. But sigining up for the #SummerofCMTR was one of the best choices I could have made, keeping me on track with amazing and creative challenges throughout the summer months. I subsequently signed up for the Winter Scavenger Hunt, and I’m now halfway through the Spring Scavenger Hunt!

Summer of CMTR
Summer Scavenger Hunt Swag

But it hasn’t always been easy

I’ve spent a large part of the past year experiencing low-key anxiety. Working from home has afforded me more flexibility in my running schedule, since I no longer have a commute to eat up part of each day. However, the invisible threat of an insidious virus has kept me on edge.

In the summer, when things seemed a bit more under control, I did two separate runs with individual friends, albeit at a distance. Since cases in BC started to spike last fall, I’ve stayed the course on my own. I took to wearing a mask on every run – it may be more of a placebo, but psychologically I feel better for both myself and those I pass on the street or in the trails.

Running through the pandemic - with a mask!

I’m loathe to speculate about what’s in store for us in 2021. Will virtual races continue to grow in popularity? Even if/when in-person races are allowed again, will I feel comfortable participating? What I do know is that running continues to be a huge part of my life, and I’ll somehow find the motivation to keep running in COVID times.

What has motivated you to run in the face of coronavirus?
What challenges have you encountered in running through the pandemic?


  1. Lucy

    Good post! A challenge for me has been running any distance over 10k. The motivation is not there since there are no races. But the upside has been that this has mean some time off from training….no pressure on yourself (always our own biggest critic, right?) and just running for health. Gotta see both sides of the coin during times like this ☺️

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