Running Online?

In this post I’d like to move away from the ELT world, or anything about teaching/training and think about… running. 2020 showed us that physical distance and lockdown can bring (push!) a lot of things online: working from home, shopping from home, learning remotely, taking exams online, having distance parties, virtual concerts, museum tours, and many more earlier unimaginable events and actions. I have a couple of friends who joined group fitness challenges and yoga classes.

Running an online 10k race was something I did in June, and am still thinking about. First it sounded too weird: after all, a race is about competing, running in a crowd of people, feeling the buzz and adrenaline, watching elite athletes finishing when I am half-way through the distance, cheering people, and an apple at the finish line. It is more about being with people, among people, and oftentimes, running for a good cause and fundraising for charity.

Disclaimer: I am not an athlete runner, nor a race winner (please understand that when I say ‘medal at the finish line’ it is about participation, not winning the race). I like the running events organized by Run Ukraine (completed 4 half-marathons with them in the last 3 years), and am usually on the lookout for more local/smaller races where I live. I do have a dream of running a full course marathon in New York City one day. I was very close to it in 2012, and my close friends know the story.

So… why did I join the online race, and how was it? Listing my reasons, and reflections.

2020: lockdown. Cancellations and/or postponing of all kinds of events, running no exception. I was dreaming of a race, big or small, and it was so unachievable, so surreal. It was a dream. I promised myself to join at least one race in 2020.

Support: with everything closed indefinitely, we just wanted to support the great organization and to take part in the event.

Keeping fit: (if you have ever registered for a race, you know how it motivates to continue training (weather and busy schedule are not the reasons any longer, as you have a goal)

Staying sane productive: knowing that you are training for a race brings a bit of normality to what’s going on around.

Curiosity: I knew what was going on in our field (education, ELT working from Zoom and other tools). I knew that restaurants and shops were able to offer delivery. I was super curious how a running event could happen online.

Fun: There were three of us who registered: my husband and his colleague, and me, so we set a time to meet early on Sunday, discussed the route, and then took pictures and had breakfast together.


A souvenir: having a token from this strange year. The medal. No comment.

My insights

Surprise (and Care) I think the biggest one was a feeling of surprise: we had a sealed envelope sent to us in the week before the event, and a note on it asked us not to open it before the race. I thought: ‘A-ha, we don’t even have to run, right? Paid the registration fee, received the medal, fed my curiosity, can post on social media, etc’. Joking, I did not have those thoughts at all! So we did run, and when we opened the envelopes with the medals, we were excited like little kids! And inside… there were some colorful confetti. I can’t describe how cool it felt! And yes, I collected mine for this picture 🙂 Small things make such a big difference. You can show you care how people feel even at a distance.

It was called NY Run. Another reason to pick this race is that I am love with NYC.

Trust. My half-joking thoughts in the paragraph above. We did not open the envelopes. To open the medal at the finish line, you had to be running with the sealed envelope in your running belt/waist pouch. I don’t know if it is comparable but I think there can be more trust and less control in how education works, too. Maybe, it is okay not to monitor every move of the students, or let them work more flexibly, and off camera/offline at times. Maybe, it has no connection at all though.

Motivation (and/or Self-Discipline). Nobody was watching us. My distance tracking application is offering not 100% accurate information on the distance, which in my case equals to about 500 extra meters of running. Which impacts the time. But… race is a race.

Small things make such a huge difference (did I already say it?). Sometimes, it is a permission to self that’s needed. In this case, permission to keep training, to keep running, and to have some fun. It was a great morning.

What was your online/remote/distant experience this year? What did it teach you (something that can be transferable to teaching, and something else?)

Thank you for reading!

About Zhenya

ELT: teacher educator, trainer coach, reflective practice addict
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1 Response to Running Online?

  1. Pingback: Appreciating and Practicing Reflection | Wednesday Seminars

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