Runners Run…Even in a Pandemic

| by Shannon Williams

If you know that our younger son is a collegiate runner, then you probably have heard me say. “Runners run.”

Runners run when it is hot, cold, raining, tropical storming, sleeting, or snowing. They run when you are on vacation, Thanksgiving Day, their birthdays. They run.

Carson runs 65+ miles each week to prepare to race in 1-, 2-, or 6-mile events, typically 2 times per month. It is the racing that makes the training bearable. Like most other high school and college runners, Carson has not raced since March 6th because of COVID-19.

And yet, he has gotten up every morning, six days a week, at 7:15 a.m. to run, training for a race that is not yet scheduled. He now knows that the NCAA Cross Country Championship will not happen this fall. He still runs. He knows that his conference will not host a 2020 season. He still runs.

Carson has goals that are bigger than one race or one season. Even at the young age of 18 he can see a vision that is bigger than today. Sure, he is disappointed – we all are – but he continues to work and train to get faster and stronger.

I have learned a lot from Carson during the pandemic. Things don’t always go according to the plan, but that does not mean you give up on the vision. He does not know whether he will race again in a month or a year, but he continues to prepare.

I was talking with a nonprofit executive director recently and she said, “My board is upset because we are not delivering our mission.”

I listened to her explain what they were doing to support their community. Their response to the pandemic was compassionate, timely, and honestly remarkable. No, they were not delivering the mission in the same way as pre-pandemic, but they were absolutely continuing to serve in a beautiful and necessary way. Their financial model has literally been turned upside down, but they are making it work. Like Carson, they are continuing to run.

If I could talk with her board, I would tell them to see the bigger picture. Let go of what was and accept what is. Be grateful that you are still able to run, to serve. Recognize that your vision has not changed; the landscape changed, and you have adapted to meet the immediate needs of your community. It is an admirable accomplishment.

You may go back to your pre-COVID ways, but you may not. There may be a new path to achieve your vision—a path you never would have seen without the pandemic. It might even be better.

Take a page from Carson’s book. Keep running no matter where or when the next race is held. Stay focused on the big picture, the ultimate vision, and keep working. Every day.

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