I was in Paris and due to take part in the Harmonie Mutuelle Semi De Paris, a half marathon that had attracted over 30,000 competitors to the French capital.
Having trained hard leading up to the race, I was excited to see what time I could run. It was only my second ever half marathon and, although nervous, I couldn’t wait to get on the start line.
However, less than 24 hours before the race, the French government made the decision to cancel all gatherings of more than 5,000 people. This decision came after the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country rose to 100.
And so, I returned to England, my unused race number folded neatly in my suitcase.
I didn’t know it yet, but I would not get to race again in-person in 2020.
The covid-19 pandemic has seen the cancellation and postponement of countless sporting events; we have seen gyms and leisure centres close their doors, group training cancelled and the shutting of tracks and sports grounds.
Therefore, we as a sporting community have adapted.
In the place of in-person races, we have turned to virtual racing.
Thankfully, my wonderful cross-country captains at NUAXC organised a brilliant and highly competitive virtual race league to keep the team motivated over summer. Since our return to university, Jack (the new male XC captain) and myself have taken on their role and have kept the virtual racing momentum going. Since September, NUAXC athletes have raced a virtual 3km, a mile and a 5km against universities from across the UK.
In the place of gyms, we have turned to at home workouts.
With the nationwide closure of gym facilities, England has turned to online alternatives. Personally, I have discovered yoga during lockdown. My morning routine has been modified to include at least half an hour of stretching with my flat mates, something that I will certainly continue post-lockdown.
In the place of group training, we have learnt to train alone.
It is very difficult to be positive about solo training. Exercising as a group is great for motivation and encourages a healthy competitiveness. However, in light of the suspension of all in-person training, athletes have been forced to reckon with the daunting prospect of solo sessions. Personally, I still hate training alone. I miss my teammates and I find it harder to push myself during my runs. Following a regimented training plan and keeping up to date with others' training via Strava has got me through the lockdown. However, I can’t wait to get back to in-person training.
Lockdown has been hard for everyone, but we should all be proud that we have managed to adapt and to continue exercising in spite of all the uncertainty.