It’s recognised that there has been a significant increase in the number and frequency of people who ran during the pandemic. Data from the exercise app Strava suggests that, particularly during the first national lockdown (March-June 2020), there was a surge in the number of activities recorded and that more women were using the app than ever before. Data from Garmin suggests that running and cycling benefitted in part from the fact that both were considered safe forms of exercise as they easily allow for social-distancing. Different national and regional restrictions threw up different responses and forms of Covid-safe running, though. Indoor running activities more than doubled in Italy, for example. Unlike France, Italy and Spain, the UK set no strict limits on the amount of outdoor exercise its citizens could enjoy. Nevertheless, as these donations to the AIL archive reveal, there were some interesting and innovative responses to what runners could do. These donations also reveal the significant role played by social media, exercise apps and individual ingenuity in maintaining momentum through some often peculiarly British challenges!
Casper Byrne – Back garden running during lockdown, Bristol
Casper created the back-garden running challenge for members of Weston Athletic Club and those who felt uncomfortable exercising outdoors during the first national lockdown, but primarily as fun. The challenge caught on during the first few weeks of lockdown in particular when many runners were unclear as to what was allowed and what it was safe to do outside. Strava and social media recorded their efforts, but also provided a platform without which such challenges and the mental health benefits they brought would not have been possible.
Helen Jones – Running a half marathon during lockdown, Bristol
Social media and running apps were also used to record new achievements in the absence of organised races and other competitive events.
Helen Jones, Bristol
Completing your first half marathon solo, without cheering crowds, drink stations and so on is no easy feat. Here’s the story of Helen’s first half.
Meanwhile, John Foot returned to half-marathon running after several years break.
Emily Hewitt – Running over 100k, Bristol
Emily’s social media posts give a hint of the way virtual challenges enabled many to structure their exercise routines and give these targets and added meaning. You can follow the highlights of her story below.
Running clubs had to adapt the way they operated with group training banned or severely restricted. Again, social media played an essential role, not just in setting club challenges, but in maintaining a sense of community that is normally created through running together. Ranging from distance and altitude challenges to running in fancy dress, here are some examples from Weston Athletic Club in North Somerset, but also reflect the impact the pandemic had on runners’ social lives in the early months of lockdown.
Aimee Thompson’s Running in Lockdown story on our YouTube channel here. Amy tells us how she fell in love with running for all the right reasons.