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Reflecting on 2020

The holiday season is upon us!  

You know, that jolly season where we runners celebrate the accomplishments of  2020 and make plans for 2021! Traditionally, at this “most wonderful time of the year”, we gather with friends and toast to new distances, personal bests, compare scars and notes from physical therapy, and remember another good year of running with our run family.  But this year is unusual.  Frankly, I don’t remember any other year quite like it.  The only thing that feels certain this holiday running season is that on December 31st at midnight, when the ball drops in Times Square, we will all reset to 0.00 miles Year To Date!

What kind of run year have you had?  What were your plans for 2020?

If you race, follow training plans, and value your running routine, last winter was kind and predictable. I was fortunate to have run a 50K at the end of February.  The winter schedule was mostly unaffected, but by the first day of spring on March 19th, we were a week into shutdown.  Race directors (RDs) had little choice but to cancel or postpone events as they approached their respective dates.  We hoped and kept training.  We stayed flexible right up until the bad news came.  Cancelled, postponed, and virtual were words we did not want to read.  But we recognized that event permits were pulled and RDs had no good options available.  How did we respond?

  • We donated entry fees to charity
  • We ran races virtually with a friend or two
  • We adapted training when May goal races moved to September
  • We applauded events which found ways to run safely and were understanding of those who could not

Did you find yourself missing “in-person” events?

Which of us will admit to searching race calendars for anything that did not say “cancelled”? Did you try anything new that would be out of your comfort zone?  I confess that I ran a humbling hilly cross country half marathon through the grassy vineyards of a winery.  That is not an event which I would choose in any normal year.

What are your plans for the holidays?

Socially distanced group runs and hikes are always a fun option.  Although we may not see the number of post run cookies, egg nog, or chocolate indulgences which we associate with festivities, the real reason we go is to share time with friends old and new in the outdoor spaces.

How will this affect your approach to 2021 goals?

Be reasonable and consider what is right for you.  Some of us love the colder weather, within reason.  During a polar vortex, I have appreciated a treadmill or an indoor track.  Those may not be easy options this year.  Many people find their daily routines disrupted by telework, cyber-school and other changing family circumstances.  Consider some alternatives that may complement or enhance your running experience:

  • Yoga over zoom
  • Bodyweight strength training
  • Adaptive group fitness challenges – Team RWB and other groups often have something happening during the winter
  • Hiking is a great recovery activity that we can do while sharing our favorite trails with friends at a more leisurely pace than trail running
  • Stay active and get outside regularly

Three years ago, December, I was at a loss as to what the next running year held for me.  I intentionally set one goal: Stay engaged and be open to new challenges.  Well, by late January, a new friend introduced me to distance trail running, and what an adventure it has been!  I rediscovered a connection to nature and the forest I have missed since my childhood days.  I think I will take a similar approach in 2021 and see how the next year develops each day, week and month.  Don’t overthink it – keep doing what is working for you and see where the journey leads.  What are your thoughts and goals for the New Year?


Scott Lemmon lives in Mt Holly Springs.  He enjoys running the roads and trails of Michaux State Forest and Pine Grove Furnace, and hasn’t gotten really lost yet.