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How I am trying to balance work with running and other stuff in a COVID-19 world

Balancing full time work with marathon training has been a struggle for me for several years. I haven’t always worked full time, but I’m at a time in my life that I am. But now, the term “Essential Workers” is what people like myself are being called, and it’s a hard thing for me to wrap my head around. I have many friends out of work right now or who have a disrupted schedule and are working from home. I don’t think they are non-essential workers. I personally think it’s silly some of the names and buzzwords we as a society have come up with. We all are facing our own new challenges and trying to figure out the “new normal.” But seriously, what even is “normal” anymore?

I work in healthcare and I have faced some really difficult challenges over the last month, while also finding a new stronger me! When this pandemic hit Oregon, my little hospital went into a full “planning” craze that was much needed, but also generated a lot of personal fear. I was also in the middle of training for Eugene Marathon and had several other smaller races planned for my weekend adventures. One by one, my races began to get postponed and then outright cancelled, which was hard to stomach – even if I knew that it was a “first world problems” sort of thing. I also am a coach at a local gym three times per week in my rural town and it, like all other gym’s had to close. Life disruptions are hard!

During my lowest lows:

  • Being terrified that I had been exposed to COVID-19 at one point, so I self-quarantined myself.
  • Not being able to connect with my marathon training partners on a regular basic with specific goals in mind. Marathon training gives my mind time to relax and that wasn’t available to me. I use running as my medication and have used my time with partners to let my mind tune out.
  • My gym had to close it’s doors. I couldn’t connect with my girls – a wonderful group who really care about each other and look forward to the time together.
  • Allergy season hitting hard on top of all the other things.
  • Adapting to homeschooling? What?!
  • Walking into work everyday not knowing what to expect.

I realize we all have had hard times and this isn’t a pity party, but I would like to share with you how I climbed (am remain climbing) out of this difficult time and trying to remain positive.

First things first. The potential individual who I thought may have been infected came back as negative. Though that was a weight off my back, the hospital is still in crisis so this is still something to be very cautious about. But in my case, that this was someone who I was in direct contact with, the weight that was lifted finding out the person tested negative was a big deal. I could hug my family again.

I have many friends who were also training for marathons. Some are continuing to train, in hopes of another race soon. With my workload hitting hard, I stopped training. I didn’t stop running. The difference – no more speed work, no more “planned” workouts, no planned meet up with friends. I would go out when I felt like it, and even sometimes when I didn’t feel like it. I need to keep my running going because it helps me focus. It clears my mind. It helps control my migraines. It keeps my body healthy. I still have continued to run with friends but it’s more of a last minute, “can you meet up?” run. I have experienced some social bashing because I run outside and with other people. I do live in a pretty rural city and our trails aren’t packed with people EVER, let alone right now. We don’t hug or fist bump when meeting up anymore. We don’t meet up at my house like we used to either. We just meet downtown and take off to the rural paved trail.  I feel this is totally safe and good for not only our physical, but our mental well-being too. I would like to add, if you don’t feel this is safe, don’t do it. I’m not posting this to make an argument.

My gym has adapted quickly as they realize the need for people to be active. They started a public group for all members and friends, offering live classes and lots of encouragement. I have been able to stay connected to most of my girls and coach them twice a week via Facebook. (Would you like to join? Barre live with Julie, Monday and Wednesdays at 6pm here).

Allergy season is amongst us now, do you feel it? I feel it, but I take allergy meds and am happy for the sunshine and great running weather right now!

Homeschooling! I’m not even sure what all to think about this. I have a 16 year old who is finishing up his Freshman year at home. I’m thankful he isn’t a Senior (I’m so sorry Seniors!!!). He’s got the online stuff pretty much down and my husband is able to help him in the mornings while I’m working. I really do feel for the parents who are working full time and having to go home and help multiple kids log in and figure out how to get everything done. I also feel for the teachers who are having to figure all this out too, leaving many in frustration. As always, this all could be worse, but this is difficult for many right now!

Work is going better actually. In my area, things have leveled out. Hopefully the curve will go down and things will get back to “normal” sooner than later. I am not stressing about it anymore. It is what it is and we all need to simply do the best we can and support each other with kindness.

I am hoping this will bring you some encouragement as you go into your week. What does your new “normal” look like. Do you have any encouragement for others during this difficult time? Don’t be afraid to share a word of encouragement to a friend or neighbor. Message folks and check in with folks. A kind word goes a really long way.

May this video give you a good laugh and you can learn from me, how NOT to wear a mask!

About Julie Mullins (86 Articles)
I am a 41 year-old runner from Dallas, OR. I am married to Jerry (also a runner) and we have three kids (one who will run with us on occasion). I work full time at West Valley Hospital/Salem Health and run as often as I can. I ran in High school but as an adult, started running in 2008. Since then, I have completed 13 full marathons, numerous 5k, 10ks and 15k. I've run two Ultras and just completed my 31st half marathon. My goal is the get my BQ in 2018 at Eugene Marathon! (Pinch me, I DID IT!!!) I also organize a local running group called ZaoFit (on facebook). I LOVE running with others - it is what keeps me motivated to stay consistent, and to keep dreaming big.

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