I never thought 25kms would feel so good!
I was out running in my limited 5km radius from home and my limited 2hrs and missed the Dan Andrews update on restrictions easing. I used to watch his press conferences every day like clockwork, now I don’t care, or I don’t want to know. I was 2km from home when I got a text from the hubby ‘25kms radius. You can hit the trails’. I squealed for joy, sending some strange looks my way from cyclists and bolted home. Ok so I ‘bolted’ for perhaps 100m, then had to walk because I cannot sprint for 2kms, so I stopped to walk, pulled my mask over my face (rules are when you walk the mask goes back on), which made breathing even harder and then managed a slow plod home – I was after all 16kms into my run already and it was a warm morning.
I came in the front door and danced around the kitchen. The rumour had been that 20kms was going to be the new rule and I had already checked out my new radius, but it would not reach far enough for me to hit the trails. 25kms put me on the edge of the Dandenong’s and meant I could reach Lysterfield lake – two of my favourite areas for trails. I was so happy! It only took one day before I had the alarm going off at 5am and I was out to the Dandenong’s for some hill training before breakfast. My poor glutes and calf muscles were not as impressed as they had enjoyed slacking off on the flat trails for 4months.
I had the place to myself; it was a chilly morning, and I could feel the bush just wrap me up in a hug. I had tears in my eyes as I started on my run – potentially hay fever symptoms but also the joy of being back in a place that makes me feel alive. A place where all my troubles and anxiety just slip away, and I can focus on one step at a time. The kookaburras laughed at me as the sun started to break over the horizon and a few trees creaked and groaned at me, reminding me that I was in their domain and they could fall on me at any time. I splashed in puddles of mud and was smelly and dirty at the finish but the smile never came off my face. I was back! My ritual of self-care and training in the bush brings me so much joy that I cannot describe it. I love the feeling of getting to the car and stripping off wet and muddy shoes and sock and potentially muddy tights as well and putting on warm and dry track pants and Ugg boots. Throwing off a sweaty top and putting a warm jumper on and the body feeling tired from the work that I have put it through. The hot coffee I grab on the drive home warms me up from the inside and I relish in the relaxed and rejuvenated mind I have for the rest of the day.
I never thought 25kms would bring so much joy.
A week later the pubs and retail opened. The first night that the pubs started to take bookings I was locking in dinners with friends and trying to get something organised for Melbourne Cup. It was my girlfriend that made me pause. “I’m not really keen to go out – I’ll just wait a bit longer”, she told me. ‘BUT THE PUBS ARE OPEN” I yell. She just laughs at me.
It made me stop and think. I have gone from spending every night at home on the couch with my hubby, eating dinner. We even had a curfew for months and couldn’t go out for a walk after 8pm. The idea now of going out to the pub and being surrounded by people will be a sensory overload for everyone. The quiet bubble of home life will now be intense and noisy. Our senses will be on overdrive. I need to slow down. If I go out every night, I will be exhausted because I am not used to this. I also have to consider that I now will have to wear actual clothes, rather than the active wear that I have lived in since March. I will probably also need to practice some self-care, ie shower in the morning rather than ‘hold-out’ all day. I will need to brush my hair, perhaps put some makeup on and wear shoes that are not Ugg boots or runners. Even the thought of this effort makes me feel exhausted.
Add to this the very real anxiety that people have of catching Covid – they are now faced with a new world of being surrounded by people at the shops, café’s, restaurants, and the pub. They will share bathrooms at a restaurant with people who are not in their current bubble. They will sanitise their hands like mad and their masks will need to be washed more regularly. It’s ok to have anxiety about the world changing, yet again. Things are not back to normal – we might have more freedom, but we still have to be careful. There is a very real fear in Melbourne that we will go back into a harsh lockdown again if the numbers go up, and this causes many people anxiety. I have a fear of being forced into a 5km radius again and not being allowed to go to the bush. A fear of hubby not been able to work again. Many are scared of being forced to not see loved ones again, even if it is in the park. Many are scared of this virus.
Its ok to be scared and still venture out. Start small – see a friend in the park. Start with your closest most trusted friends so you don’t have social anxiety. Go for a meal just with one other person until you’re ready to hit it up at the pub with a group of 10. Go for a walk somewhere further than 5km from home and experience a new trail or a new beach path and soak it in. Go for a drive with your favourite tunes and revel that you can drive more than 5kms from home. Don’t go to the big shopping centres, go small or continue to shop online. Better yet – don’t shop! Another lockdown lesson - we already have so much and yet we continue to buy ‘stuff’ – that’s a whole ‘nother blog!
Don’t stay locked up – take it in baby steps but enjoy some freedom. Your mental health will thankyou for it.
Be kind to yourself.