"We’re coming together by staying apart": a letter from Helen in Ireland | Women's Running

“We’re coming together by staying apart”: a letter from Helen in Ireland

Read Time:   |  March 30, 2020

Women's Running reader Helen provides an optimistic voice from Ireland, a country that has had higher levels of restrictions than the UK for some time now

The following letter comes from Helen, a Women’s Running reader in Ireland. We wanted to share her optimism with all of you, as she remains positive despite heavier running restrictions.

“We’re very much getting used to social distancing and isolation by now. It’s got to the stage where looking back at photos of myself and my running friends with our arms around each other just a few weeks ago looks like something from another time!

“Solo running in Ireland is still possible – just about! Until yesterday we could run as far and often as we liked, provided we ran alone and stayed 2 metres away from passers-by, but as of midnight last night we can only leave our house for travel to essential work, food shopping, medical appointments or for brief physical exercise within a 2km radius of our homes. I went out at 7am this morning for a quick jaunt around the park and was grateful I live so close to such a beautiful amenity and that it’s still available to me.

“The last Irish parkruns were held on 8 March, and Athletics Ireland instructed running clubs to cancel all club races, coaching sessions and organised runs back on March 12 – so we’ve had no sessions or meet-ups for the Sunday long run for quite a while. In general, people are being really accepting – we runners are trying to keep up group spirit and camaraderie in running group What’s App chats and so on, but we’re dreaming of the days our group speed sessions – followed by coffee and cake – return.

“My last long run was a week ago when I ran 14 miles on my own at 7.30am; the streets were so empty! I didn’t think I saw one other person along the city centre quays. On the second half of. my run I started to see more walkers and runners, but as far as I could tell everyone was being brilliant, just walking or running with family members (I saw a few mums & dads with kids running together) and giving passers by a wide berth. One thing that was really nice is the way people seemed to be smiling at each other more than usual – we may have been physically apart, but people seemed to be showing each other by their smiles that we’re all in this together and doing it for the common good.

“I was wearing my club top (which I usually only wear to races); I just wanted to feel connected, because we can’t do group training or races or sessions.

“I think all of us in Ireland feel that we’re in this together; we’re coming together by staying apart, as Taoiseach Leo Varadkar asked us to. I’m sure you’re doing the same in the UK!”

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