RUNNING is an incredible test of mental endurance and skill with an added twist right now.
The pandemic has all-but wiped out the major goals for runners right now: running clubs, parkruns, Ballarat's biggest run event Run For a Cause and now it has claimed the traditional March Mountain of Fun Run in Dunnstown.
At the same time, running and walking remain among only a handful of sports permitted as exercise under lockdowns this year.
The goal posts have changed.
Pounding the street or lapping the lake almost had a novelty trend to it early in the pandemic effects on this city. Runners and walkers were out in force. It was a way to see and be seen in a world with restricted human interaction.
The real test was to keep this up as a Ballarat winter set in.
For those who ran through a Ballarat winter with or without a defined training goal, without a weekly parkrun or without a group, this shows incredible discipline.
Spring will undoubtedly draw out more people running and walking from home hibernation and a renewed chance to re-set goals and the possibility to prepare for getting back in our games in some form.
This column referred to Melbourne Vixens' co-captain Liz Watson last week and her lesson to get the basics right, a fundamental element to her training in isolation.
Running and walking are essentially as basic as it can get - even Watson worked in some runs with her brothers to challenge her fitness.
It does not matter whether you are sprinting, lapping an oval or trekking out for a long run, running is ultimately challenging yourself physically and mentally, whatever your personal goals might be.
In a sport that could be considered solitary, running culture in Ballarat is very much about supporting each other.
The pandemic has, in many ways, isolated runners once more. Largely though, the pandemic has reinforced how much we are connected by just getting out there and having a go.
There have been plenty of virtual running event playing out this year, including two editions of the Great Ocean Road Marathon Festival. These offer a sense of connection, knowing there are others out there aiming to run with the same purpose on their own course. These events offer a goal.
But this is nothing like the sound of pounding feet in a crowd of hundreds or thousands pulling you along.
For those running or walking outside, alone or in pairs, connection has been in the nods of acknowledgement out from other runners and walkers.
Brief words of encouragement are invaluable to spurring each other along, whether it be to the next marker on your course or just to get out and move again the next day.
Limited choice in restrictions has allowed us a chance to rediscover the basics from a fresh perspective, whether it be a walking catch-up with a friend or a conscious choice to move more often.
We have proven we can do it, now let's hope these good habits will linger post iso-life.
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