Running Into a Post-COVID World

Pub Run at the Belmar Pub Running 3 miles a night and drinkingFirst Friday Pub Run at Cyber Café

Not such a long time ago, in what feels like a different universe, Running had a community that mattered very much to all of those involved.  This was not a place or a thing, so much as it was an existence we all felt.  Our social lives revolved around running, at least once a week.  Whether it was the camaraderie of a casual group run, the chaotic fun of a Pub Run, the cheers of a beloved local race, or the support of the weekly Triple Cities Runners Club Long Run, large numbers of us would gather and get our workout in while spending time getting to know the other “weirdos” who loved the sport as much as we did.  It was a very accepting  community, where our paces weren’t as important as seeing those consistent other  faces (except when we were enjoying fierce competition, of course). 

Runners diligently turned out to weekly running events, enjoyed the company of other runners, sometimes sharing a drink, always sharing our stories, all while getting our sweat on.  In this community, many of us didn’t even know what each other did for a living, because it didn’t matter.  We were runners.  We had an identity that transcended all those “normal” things.

BATS Wolfe Park Broome County Park in DickinsonBinghamton Area Trail Runners at Wolfe Park

So what happened?  What on earth could have blown apart such a healthy, friendly, accepting community?

Unfortunately, like the supply chain and the economy, COVID-19 has had a profound effect on our running community.  Across the nation, running events are down as much as 47% between 2019 and 2022.  Races like the Boilermaker 15k that used to fill up the day registration opened are now not seeing the same numbers even by race day.  Group run numbers are cut in half or worse, and many no longer exist at all.   While the causes for these things may be broad (we all got into new routines!  New people joined the running community who never had that social side! Some of us switched to new sports!), the effect is that the running community is not what it used to be.  Where do we go from here?

As we all struggle through what this post-COVID life means, there are definitely some big things that may be tough to figure out, but maybe this isn’t one of them.  Maybe this is as simple as getting us back on track.  Maybe it’s as simple as 1, 2, 3:

1) According to the WHO,  the COVID-19 Pandemic has triggered a 25% increase in the prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide.

2) Exercise improves moods, stabilizes hormones, and decreases anxiety and depression.

3) Face to face social interactions can cause changes in the body to reduce anxiety and depression.

With these things in mind, wouldn’t we all be a little happier getting back to our former world?  Simple steps like going to a single group run will help the entire community become happier and healthier and we can get back to the important stuff: Running!

 Author: Jenna Gawors, Running Enthusiast 


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