The past couple of months has seen the return to running, both in terms of club training as well as racing and the running community couldn’t be more enthusiastic. It’s been a difficult 15 months since the beginning of these lockdowns and all signs are looking positive for the easing of restrictions throughout Northern Ireland over the coming weeks and months. It’s been such a great uplift in spirits and although it hasn’t been easy, getting back to the racing scene is just what the doctor ordered. Heading to the registration tables, collecting bibs, and seeing some familiar faces that you mightn’t have seen in over a year has been a wonderful experience. If you haven’t taken the plunge yet or had the opportunity to support a live race it is highly recommended. The nerves may be twitching at first, but looking around on a well organised start line, taking it all in, it all comes back to you rather quickly. The buzz and anticipation of the starting gun gets the butterflies active once again. Looking into the eyes of your fellow participants you can see the joy, albeit the nervous joy, in their eyes. Then, the gun goes off…
Whether it is a 5k or an ultra, the first few strides feel a bit strange. Yes, you’ve done this before, but it’s different. There is an appreciation of what it means to be back at it. It has been missing for far too long. After the first half mile, the nerves fade a little, you’re doing what you do, what you’ve done for years and it feels good, as good as racing can feel. Challenging yourself, pushing your body to its limits, gasping for oxygen. It is never easy but the feeling of getting comfortable being uncomfortable is coming back. The inner monologue begins. Questions start going through your head, “Did I go out to fast?”, “Why am I doing this?”, “What am I going to eat when this is over?”.
Then comes the long-awaited finish line. You’ve pushed yourself the best you could, although you question if you left something out there? Relax, you’ve finished and it was the first race back in a long time. And now there will be more. No more virtual events, we are back on the roads with fellow runners and it feels good.
By the way, that same thing goes for new runners who took up the sport during the long days of lockdown. It seems like the streets are full of runners, beginners and veterans alike. Clubs are returning with great numbers and training hard. There is a wonderful sense of freedom that only running can provide. For you new runners out there, welcome to the excitement that is racing. Challenging yourself and improving your own times is where the greatest sense of accomplishment comes from. Get involved in live racing and you’ll never look back.
From the results early on, lockdown has done some runners a world of good as there has been some amazing performances thus far. Records are being broken and local runners are becoming household names. What a great time to be a runner!
We’d like to take this opportunity to welcome everyone to the newly re-designed NI Running website. We are looking forward to bringing you race reports, results and articles once again. We welcome input from anyone involved in the running community and look forward to seeing you all at events over the summer and beyond.