Sunday Gratitude: The Running Pod
For the last four years, I have gone for morning runs with two of my neighbors several times a week–mostly at 6:00 or 6:45 am (we went later after middle school switched to later times). When Covid hit last year around this time, we deliberately formed a running pod–because we needed it both physically and mentally. All through the spring, summer and fall (except for a week here and there for vacation or injury) , we hit the road at least four or five days a week. During the winter, the only things that stopped a run were black ice or massive amounts of snow–the latter means that we strap on the XC skis instead.
Sometimes another runner will join us–my husband or another neighbor–but mostly it’s the three of us, and mostly we are on the same 5K loop of Weston and Lincoln back roads. On weekends, we take a long run–usually 6 miles, but we’ve done up to 11 together at the beginning of last summer when I was training for a half-marathon that was ultimately canceled. We ran Love Lane’s 5K route on the date it had originally been scheduled. Last fall, in a fit of hopefulness, the three of us cross-trained by planting daffodils along one neighbor’s wall on North Avenue–they are starting to come out now and make me smile at the beginning and end of every run.
We are, all three, mothers of middle schoolers and 9th graders. On our runs, we discuss and dissect teenager-isms, and blow off steam about closed doors, electronics overuse and mood swings. And with the pandemic year, we listen and empathize with the stories of the kids who are simply doing the best that they can. It’s not all kid-talk either–the other two work in corporate, and that was my former life so we talk about those challenges too. Politics, local and national, sometimes take a turn in our breathless chats. I call it therapy running–not only physically envigorating, but emotionally important to each of us.
At least one time during the year, one or another of us has skipped a run because of a Covid test that has not yet been returned, or a kid who has been identified as having a teammate sidelined with Covid. None of us has gotten Covid, and none of us have been vaccinated yet. So we’re a pod.
My Sunday gratitude is for my running pod–my two neighbors and friends–who have helped me stay above the water line this year. I hope everyone has found their pod–a knitting group, a book group, a family group, a golf group…In a year of isolation and frustration, they are gold.