27 April – 1 May 2020 Running Info

Hello Runners!
Another glorious week of London lockdown weather!  Our photos show that many of you are getting out (as much as allowed!) to enjoy the sun and get a little running in.  The posts, photos, and notes I see are such a highlight of every day– I’m so glad everyone is staying connected, and so thankful for this supportive community. 

Race Around the World.  Thanks to everyone for getting behind our group-wide virtual run around the world!  And enormous thanks to Devy Schonfeld, who is now tracking miles totals and managing our route and our progress.  Once all the numbers were in from the past five weeks since lockdown began (in London), we had tallied…drumroll… 10,077 miles (16,217 km) already run!  How amazing is that?  Below is the first version of the map she has created for us– some of you may be surprised to find yourselves (and your approximate locations) on there, as we just did a quick, back-of-the-envelope inventory of WRW ladies along the route!  Please send any corrections to me at [email protected], and also let me know if you’d like to be added to the map!  We’ve also created an alumni tracker if anyone out there reading this wants to join in to record and contribute miles– here’s the link, just jump in and add your name and your miles.  We’ve also decided to include other types of exercise at the rate of 10 minutes = 1 mile, for those who are limited, perhaps by lockdown circumstances, in the actual running they can get out to do.  Be sure to give your updated mileage by Sunday evening each week, so your pace leaders can pass it on to Devy.  Can’t wait to see where we get to next week– California, maybe?

Running this Week.
  In a normal world, tomorrow would have been the 30th Virgin London Marathon!  We had FIVE strong WRW runners who would have been running it;  Kate Ballbach, Laura Beal, Megan Marine, Bridget Perry, and Mariya Treisman.  And we would have, no doubt, organised a big cadre of WRW supporters to cheer them on with silly posters, pom-poms, bright hats, ambitious transport plans to get us to multiple viewing points, and cheering voices that would have made all the other runners and spectators turn and stare!  Running a marathon is such a big commitment, and we are disappointed for our friends who had geared up mentally and trained quite a bit already by the time the event cancelled.  But in true WRW spirit, these ladies have found a way to put a positive spin on the day, despite social distancing rules!  These five runners will do a 26.2(ish) relay tomorrow morning as part of the 2.6 Challenge to help support the charities who have lost much of their funding through the cancellations of multiple fundraising events such as the Virgin London Marathon (which alone raised £66.4 million for thousands of charities last year). 
Starting at 8:30am tomorrow (Sunday), each will run a circuit beginning at their own house and ending at the home of the next runner– approximately 5.25 miles for each, mostly in the St Johns Wood/Maida Vale/Primrose Hill area.  I’m not sure if I have their permission to include the routes (!), but I’m going to do it, in case anyone wants to slip out for a socially distant bit of cheering!  These ladies all happen to be in the 9s pace group, if that helps at all with figuring out what time they might reach a given point on the route.  We can also send an update to the Pace Leaders as each leg begins, so if you want to be kept in the loop, just ask them to relay that information to your chat.  We hope to see them run in the official marathon, now rescheduled for October, but for now we will be cheering (virtually and IRL) for them tomorrow!

Shoutouts and Annoucements.  So many of you have managed to hit the half-marathon mark on solo (or duo) runs!  A big congratulations to everyone for that!  We’ve also heard that some ladies have run multiple solo (or duo) half marathons in the last five weeks.  I realise it’s entirely possible I will miss someone, but I still want to shout out huge kudos to the ones I know about.  Meredith Snizek (6), Kelly Willis (6), Bjorg Fridbjornsdottir (5), Miki Neant (?) and Perla Greenup (3), Marigold Dooley (2), Karen Hough (2), Wiebke Liu (2), Janelle Meyer (2), Carmine Najjar (2) and Lauren Young (2).  Well done, ladies!  If I’ve missed anyone, please send me an update so I can give you a shoutout next week!
On a more somber note, Jess Browne has asked me to pass along her thanks to all of you for the love and support you have shown her and her family in the last couple of weeks, since the loss of her son, Ignacio.  Jess is one of the most loving and giving people I’ve ever met, and she has given so much to WRW and to each of us, for some as a coach and a mentor, and for all as a friend.  Our hearts will continue to be with you, Jess.

Our community has grown steadily in numbers over the last several years.  But I would venture to say it has grown exponentially in depth over the last few months.  Regardless of where we all are physically located, our connections with one another are for many a support and a source of joy.  Dinae sent a note from Philly the other day talking about a study that shows how spending time with our female friends is one of the best things we can do for our health.  Apparently, our time together releases serotonin, which combats depression, among other things.  And we women further have the ability to handle stress not just with “fight or flight” but with “tend and befriend.”  Even when we can’t be physically together, we can “tend” the relationships that nurture us.  Thanks to you all for this!  Sending lockdown love and best to all!
xx Micki 

20 – 24 April 2020 Running Info

Dear Runners,
Good morning.  I’m sorry for being late with this week’s note.  It’s been hard to find words this week.  Sometimes when that is the case, it’s better to let pictures speak; so I wanted to begin by sharing some of the many flower photos the WRW London community has posted during this difficult week.  We won’t be sharing names or particulars here, but our hearts are with those in our community who are grieving.

Running this Week.  Last week’s casual mention of the 10’s challenging themselves to run to Singapore has blossomed over the last few days into a bigger challenge for all of WRW.  We’d like to join all together to try to virtually run all the way around the world!  What better way to show our community spirit and live up to our name??  The idea is to track all of our miles run during this lockdown and social distancing time, pool them together, and see how far around the globe that will get us.  Devy Schonfeld, the spark behind the original lockdown miles challenge, has agreed to help us plot our course around the world with stops to give virtual fist-bumps to our runners who either live far from London or have dispersed from London because of the pandemic.

So how will this work?  For those currently in a Pace Group, your Pace Leaders will post a link on your WhatsApp chat to a group Google sheet on which you can record your miles for each week.  The Pace Leaders will share that information with Devy, and we’ll include an overall progress report for how far we’ve made it in the weekly e-mail the following weekend.  AND because we want to make this accessible for everyone who wants to be able to participate, even if running is limited by local lockdown rules in various locations, or homeschooling/caregiving demands, we are including other forms of exercise in this challenge at the rate of 10 minutes of exercise = 1 mile!  

So all you have to do to participate is follow the link you’ll be sent via WhatsApp chat, go into the Google sheet, and enter your name in the left column.  Then just update your miles total (or exercise minutes converted to miles) by Sunday each week for the Monday-Sunday period.  Here’s an example of the very simple tracking sheet (with names blocked out) we’ve already been using to challenge ourselves to a different goal (I’ve only just changed the title!):

9s Run Around World Challenge

If you are not on an existing WhatsApp chat but would like to participate, here is a link to a sheet for you to use as a new ‘Alumni Group’: 

Finally, if you are not in London and you’d like us to consider running by you on our round-the-world route, please send your location and a photo of yourself we can crop to pin on the map, and our amazing Map-master Devy will try to include you in the route!

More to do with Miles.  Inspired by Captain Tom’s amazing fundraising efforts, one of our runners let me know this week about a scheme that would allow us to easily and individually convert our miles into some giving.  Charity Miles is an app you can download to track your miles and ‘donate’ them to one of their 40-some charity partners.  The allocation of miles across the charities determines how a pool of money the organisation has raised from corporate sponsors will be allocated to the various partners.  In other words, you get to use your miles to vote for the charity of your choice.  Thanks to Carolyn Reeves for the idea!

Looking ahead.  We wish a meaningful celebration to all who will begin observing Ramadan this week, understanding that social distancing deeply affects this holiday for you.  When we come out of lockdown and begin running our routes together again– and we WILL do that!– I will have to re-learn how to write this weekly e-mail filled with route information, training tips passed down to us through the years by Paula for our half marathon prep, and a few observations about either how wet we got running in the rain the previous week, or how beautiful it was.  In the meantime, keep sending your ideas, your photos, and your miles; and we will keep ourselves connected and, hopefully, inspired through this really exceptional pause.  
Sending all best to everyone in London and around the world this week.  We are in this together!  Reach out here or in your group chats if you need a little boost.  Stay well!
xx Micki

13 – 17 April 2020 Running Info

Good Morning, Runners!
For those of you celebrating, Happy Pesach, and Happy Easter!  As we head into week four of the London lockdown, I want to make special note of all the smiles in the photos from this week. You ladies are so inspirational in your determination to make the best of this time!  Updates I’ve heard from all the pace groups highlight the many ways we are staying connected and supporting each other.  In addition to everyone keeping lively pace group chats going with lots of humor and support, we’ve got the ex-beginners continuing yoga and squats twice a week, and all of the groups hosting Zoom hangouts (including an 8’s birthday celebration).  There are also the continuing combined-mileage challenges (will the 10s total mileage during social distancing be enough to get them to Singapore? Australia? Will they make it back to London?), and we have collectively been celebrating everything from a hard-fought, first run back from illness, to more solo half-marathon completions (including the ‘First Annual, Fourth Week of Self-Isolation’ weekly half-marathon).  

Running this week.  Most of us have probably established our go-to routes from our homes by now.  But one idea for something fresh and fun is to create a custom “Friend-ly” Route.  If you look at a street map starting from your own house, and pick out a friend who lives maybe 1.5 to 2 miles away, you can probably design a 5-mile loop route that runs past the homes of a dozen or so more friends– and if you post that on your chat without names and ask people to shout out their addresses if they’re on the route and want to be a part of it (no obligation, of course), you will likely discover even more people on or near the route.  Then whenever someone runs the route, she can text when headed out the door, and friends can be looking out to give a wave or a socially distant hello as the runner passes.  Even better, those on the route might want to put a colorful sign or one of the bright WRW hats in a window, so that even if no one is home, runners on that route can feel less alone knowing they’re passing all these friends!  And best of all– if there are 12-15 people living on the route, it gives that many runners a fresh new run.  Here is a sample route (with houses still unmarked) that includes about 15 runners so far:

How great would it be if we could collect a set of routes covering different neighborhoods?  (Hint, hint…)

Obviously we are all acutely aware of our physical proximity to others when we are running these days.  A simulation that went viral this week (no pun intended) shows the wisdom of keeping even more distance than the 2 meters recommended if you are running or biking, because you are moving more quickly into the ‘slipstream’ of a person you are passing.  In fact, if you are running behind someone, the article recommends a 4-5 meter distance.  Here is the link to the original article published on Medium this week (thanks to Tamar).  I should mention that there is some controversy now about methodology and peer reviewing, but it still seems like good information to have and logical advice to consider.  Also on the topic of running in a time of social distancing, here is a piece we all might identify with– “What I Yell About When I Yell About Running.”

Training.  It bears repeating every week that one of the most important things we can do for ourselves in terms of training these days is to be kind to our bodies.  Stretch, do some yoga or other cross-training, and… keep away from zombies?  A fun idea we’ve heard about from a few different sources (including Jennifer Egsgard) is the “Zombies, Run!” app which allows you to run your own route with a presumably zombie-infused narrative that will give you a little extra incentive to pick up the pace at various intervals on the run (all while minding social distancing, of course!).  Though all the reviews I’ve heard have come from people under 14, I’ve downloaded the app and can’t wait to give it a try!  In other workout app news, a huge thank you to Karen Hough for managing the ‘WRW Distance Runners’ group on the Beachbody app– it’s another fantastic way to connect and motivate for all kinds of lockdown fitness activities.  

Earlier this week someone sent me an article by a cyclist on ‘rediscovering the joy of riding alone’.  So much of what the author says can be applied to those of us who are accustomed to running in a group as we’re forced to transition to running solo.  In the spirit of finding the good in a bad situation, there really are things we can learn and even appreciate on this unusual journey.  Like the sudden ability to run in the road much of the time.  Or the novelty of running on Oxford Street in mid-afternoon any day rather than just our one, annual, pre-dawn outing on that route.  Or the flexibility to start your run when your body tells you it’s ready to go, rather than convincing your body it will be ready at 8:20, like it or not (do we all know what I’m talking about here?).  Or finding all of these new ways to virtually connect with one another, and bonding even further through this shared experience.  The more we look for the things to appreciate, the more we find to be grateful for.  Gratitude builds upon itself and lifts us up as it rises.
Hmm, yes, sometimes I get carried away a little.  But just hoping that you all are doing well in every way.  Take care of yourselves, take care of each other, and do reach out if you are in need of support.  Stay well, and have a beautiful week!
xx Micki

6 – 10 April 2020 Running Info

Hello Runners!
If we can’t actually be headed out on Spring Break this weekend, Mother Nature has at least been kind enough to give us glorious sunshine for a lockdown consolation prize!  What a beautiful weekend we’re having.  I hope everyone is able to enjoy it one way or another.

Running this week.  As long as we continue to be allowed our daily exercise, I hope you’re finding good ways to use it.  We are not posting routes, as you know, so that we don’t inadvertently set in motion our own WRW traffic jam and social distancing disaster!  In addition, since we’re all coming from different directions rather than starting at Barclays, and every run needs to be a loop that gets us back to our homes, it makes more sense to have us each plan our own.  But if you need some inspiration, you could have a look at “Where we Run”– our standard routes posted on our website.  If you have been out for a run lately, especially when the weather is fine, you know that it can still be pretty crowded, especially in the parks and later in the day.  It’s a great idea to go early if you can, and some runners have reported that city street-based routes have been less busy than any park routes.  Whatever route and time you choose to run, please take good care of yourself by giving plenty of space to anyone who hasn’t quite gotten the hang of social distancing yet.  

“Running this Week” now means something entirely different than it has in the past.  In the present circumstances, every run, every walk, every positive decision to do something for yourself, is a milestone.  If you are feeling down or overwhelmed, know that you are not alone (even if we are, actually, physically alone)– everyone is dealing with some level of anxiety or other mental stress at the moment.  And many studies have demonstrated that a higher-than-normal stress level can significantly affect one’s physical stamina and ability to recover from exertion.  So if you are feeling extra tired, and you don’t understand why you can’t run the way you could just a few weeks ago, try to go easy on yourself.  It’s a very normal physical response to mental and emotional stress.  Running, walking, or any kind of movement should be a great way to help us stay physically and mentally in good shape during the lockdown– endorphins can be such a help!  But running should not be something that adds another level of stress.  Celebrate whatever activity you can do, but don’t condemn yourself for what you can’t!  And reach out to your running friends if you need support– we are all in this together.

On the flip-side, if anxiety is making you a running junkie and your mileage has shot off the charts in the last couple weeks, take care of yourself!  Enjoy the endorphins and the outdoors, but pay attention to your body and don’t break yourself!  Rest is also a good counter to stress.

Training Notes.  Either way, whether you are sitting more than usual, or running more than usual, your body could benefit from some extra stretching and cross training.  Try some yoga or pilates along with a generous amount of stretching.  There are so many options available online or via free apps right now, I won’t even attempt a run-down, but here is a link to a top-ten-free-online-workout list that came out earlier today.  Or you could actually try doing one of those hilarious throwback workouts that are circulating all over our WhatsApp chats right now (don’t forget your leg-warmers and headband)!  

Shoutouts.  So many of us have done milestone runs this week– whether that means 13.1 miles, some other distance, getting out for a first solo run, or covering a new distance after an injury.  Congratulations and so very well done to everyone!  It’s a pleasure to see all the photos– and especially when they also feature children or a spouse out running alongside us!  

A special shoutout to our ex-Beginners, the class of 2020!  It is SUCH an achievement to make the transition to being able to run even without the pack, and yet many of you signed up for the Plan B Challenge and completed 10k runs this week.  Congratulations!  We cannot wait to start running with you whenever this pause is over.  I’ve gotten special permission from ex-beginner Kelli Novak to share part of a note she wrote to the Beginners’ Group coaches, because it shows the incredible attitude these ladies have had through this experience, and it’s a reminder of how lucky we are to have running and this community in our lives:“I know you guys thought you were training us for a half marathon, but in reality it turns out that you were training us for something much more important, difficult and longer than a marathon; you trained us to dig deep, notice our resilience and provide us with a level of fitness that will not only God willing keep us all healthier through this, but mentally able to better withstand the onslaught of change and attendant anxiety when the world turned on its side for a while.  How empowering to have these skills and this physical ability at this precise moment in time.   Moreover, you provided the opportunity for us to connect with each other, which is now a bedrock of solace and community at a time when it is so desperately needed.”  

I hope you are all finding laughter, comfort and encouragement within our community, wherever you find yourself physically residing for this time.  Sending WRW love all around the globe.  Stay well!
xx Micki