The global pandemic and the resulting lockdown has affected us all in one way or another; beyond the coffee fads and the cooking spurs, the global emergency has taught us more with each new lockdown. So, here’s a personal account of a casual activity that turned into a worthwhile habit and life lesson over the span of a month.
My plan for the month was simple: jog till you drop, preferably get a jogging partner (my athletic co-worker-turned-BFF), and, most important of all, don’t quit.
After My First Day
Logging in a total of 7 Kilometers for my first jog left me feeling the I-just-worked-out vibes for the rest of the day. I was attentive, energetic, and peppy to say the least; my day felt like a breeze with me running around feeling accomplished.
However, as the day ended my muscular agility dropped drastically, since, after finishing up at my part-time job, my walk home was tormented by my legs seemingly becoming limpish.
To put it mildly, I’m not an exercise enthusiast’ I’m quite the opposite honestly! While I was aware that I might experience some soreness, I wasn’t prepared for the feeling of acute disability and searing pain I felt in my legs as I tried to sit on the toilet seat the next morning.
After My First Week
After pushing myself to jog every day with the help of my jogging partner and some extra strong coffee for some motivation, my exercise routine steadily started modifying my attitude. My physical functioning quite drastically went up from 7 to 8 kilometres (yes, that number to me is a big deal), and my humorous, yet embarrassing soreness spell ended.
However, in addition to the physical change, it was my improvement in behaviour and mood that surprised me. My attitude towards my daily activities completely transformed; by the end of the week,
I no longer needed the extra motivation to jog. I was excited to go out (rather than being locked up). With a week of consistent workouts, my system entered a “let’s-get-it” mood; I no longer felt like staying in bed all day, drowning in all those lockdown blues.
Three Weeks In
While the immediate benefit of running, the release of dopamine and other endorphins, is oh-so-good for a stressed-out brain, recent studies have shown running causes more profound, long-lasting changes to brain function.
By the end of the third week, there were noticeable improvements in my performance. I finally saw noticeable improvements in my physical appearance since i started the experiment. My muffin top was now more like a curve, and my love handles deflated slightly You can definitely say my jeans may have become slightly loose.
Even if this was all a delusion, the significant improvement in my mental health wasn’t; going into my 5th lockdown after changing continents (India to Ireland), the lockdown slowly started taking its toll on me – you can call it the lockdown blues. I lost interest in my job and my studies; my optimistic character became more pessimistic as I felt more lost entering the new year.
20 or so days in, my attitude leapt from rock bottom to an all-time high. I felt myself regaining my lost personality, more of the runners’ high. The endorphins running rampant in my bloodstream made me more self-confident and less stressed by the overall situation we are all facing.
Fourth and Final week
As my one month of jogging comes to a close, it has affected me more than I expected a simple physical exercise to do so. Beyond the physique and the tone behind the experiment, it has awarded me with an activity that I have truly come to love.
I no longer ponder over how long the pandemic will last; I rather explore new paths to jog along. The dread of failing and not being where I should have been by now is now replaced with where I am and what more I can do.
In a universally stagnant period that has us all suffering, I am experiencing something new, something productive. And, yes, my backside is now bouncier because of it.
All in all, a simple exercise that I initiated for the sake of it has inspired me enough to write about it. While I do not expect anyone fastening their runners after reading this article, what I do expect my reader to do is reflect on the situation of their mental health.
With a seven-fold increase in the global suicide rate, it is now more important than ever to reach out and seek help or find alternative activities to ease tensions. For the reader, it might be journaling or baking. But, if you’re up for the challenge, getting a little air (after being locked up for a while) and a swing to your steps might come from a short run you can slowly build up to.
Running freed my mind; I hope it can free yours too.