• graeme

Lockdown Reflections Day 31

If we were not disrupted by Covid-19, then this morning I would have been running the London Marathon for the first time. I’m really sad to be missing that.

But the alert that popped up in my calendar serves as a reminder about dealing with Covid-19. The biggest mistake a rookie runner like me can make in a marathon is to start out too quickly. You have to pace yourself in a marathon, leaving enough energy for the second half. In fact, the last 5 kilometres of a marathon require about half of the effort.

We’ve only just begun this Covid disruption. When it’s over we won’t be counting the days. We might not even be counting weeks. It may very well be months of disruption that lie ahead of us. Not lockdown; but definitely disruption.

Right now, I think almost no-one has the pacing right. Too many of us are sprinting. We are hustling and scrambling to find work and get stuff done. We’ve abandoned weekends, stopped taking breaks, not exercising - just working, working, working. We cannot maintain that pace.

Yesterday, I put an autoresponder on my emails letting people know I could not keep up. I am going to start refusing meetings on weekends. Maybe also take a day out during the week. I might even throw in a siesta or two this coming week. I need to slow down and find the right Covid-19 marathon pace.

On the other hand, I know some people who are taking it super easy. They’re waiting for life to come back to normal again, and spending lockdown sleeping, relaxing, playing games and reading. While I envy them, and am glad they got a breather, I think they might have to pick up the pace a bit now. Marathons have cut off times (although, famously, London marathon doesn’t) - that means that there is a moment when the marathon ends and you are told you didn’t finish it and don’t get a medal.

Covid-19 disruption is going to last a lot longer than most people think. And the life and job you had before is not going to just sit there waiting for your return. You do need to spend some time now during disruption starting to work on what your “new” life is going to look like, or you might discover in a few months that you’re not in the race anymore.

(I realise there are other people who - stretching my analogy a bit much - are not in the race at all. Maybe they’re injured. Maybe they didn’t get an entry ticket to start with. We need to not forget those who desperately wish they could run this race, but can’t.)

Marathons are not sprints. You get through them by just keeping on moving at whatever pace you can. The wonderful thing about runners is that, unless you are actually racing up front with the elite professional athletes, there’s a massive community at the back that cheers you on no matter how fast - or slow, in my case - you’re going. You are not racing to beat other people; the race is against yourself, accompanied by other people. You have to find your own pace, push yourself just a little, and be inspired by everyone else.

I think, on reflection, that the London marathon has taught me something after all this year. Now I need to work out what pace I should be moving at for the next few weeks. I hope you find yours.

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