Brockworth runner Olivia Wiles on training during lockdown, the London Marathon and England Athletics’ announcement

Covid-19 has caused a host of problems for sports all over the country, especially those who are part of running clubs and group organisations who have been forced to adhere to social distancing rules.

One such person is Brockworth running club’s Olivia Wiles. She has experience running for various clubs and organisations around Gloucestershire but has encountered a lot of challenges recently due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Wiles, like many, says she was ‘scared’ of running in groups initially after the lockdown ended due to the risk of contracting the disease.

She said: “Running is supposed to make you feel better, happier but it could be quite overwhelming especially on small pavements where it’s difficult to socially distance.

“A lot of walkers expect you to go in the road but at the same time you don’t want to get run over so that can be a bit stressful at times. You’re forced to move aside and stand in the bushes sometimes and obviously that can disrupt your flow and could even ruin the run.”

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Naturally, Wiles admitted she found it difficult to to run consistently at the start of lockdown because of the tight restrictions put in place.

“Running itself hasn’t really changed since lockdown but it was quite difficult at the beginning when it was one form of exercise a day. I had to choose between walking the dog and going for a run and so the former took priority there.

“The strict lockdown at the beginning meant I didn’t get out to run for three weeks so that was a bit of a strain on my mental health. I worried a lot I’d lose my fitness so I had to stick to home workouts and HIIT cardio workouts.”

Many runners have also been left confused by the contradicting advice from England Athletics on the government’s rule of six after they announced that runners did not have to adhere to the advice.

Wiles believes this has meant that many people have become more weary of runners despite the announcement because it is not widely known.

“It can be quite stressful when there is more than six runners as you get people looking at you because the unfortunate thing is, Boris Johnson didn’t actually say that in his government announcement. A lot of people look at us in groups when we’re running as a result so the contradicting advice can be a bit confusing for some.”

Read more: Michael Duff on the effect of Covid 19

Wiles also discussed the London Marathon which took place virtually this year, with the majority running the distance in their own local areas. It allowed many communities to come together and cheer on their own, albeit it in very strange circumstances.

“Doing it virtually was a struggle for a lot runners, but the running community is so supportive that they made it easier. A lot of runners had their own crew who supported them around their specific course and there was an app that allowed people to track runners which helped them a lot.”

There are plans for next year’s marathon to go ahead on October 3, 2021 but there is still some uncertainty on how it’s going to unfold. Wiles has applied for it for the third year in a row but said she was apprehensive about it.

“Personally, doing it virtually sounds quite terrifying but with the right support I’m sure it could be done and running that distance no matter the circumstances is a massive achievement.”

While it’s uncertain how Covid 19 will affect the UK in the near future, it is inevitable runners like Wiles will have to deal with a new normal for some time.

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