Goals · Review

How COVID-19 Turned My 2020 Plans Upside Down

This post was meant to be a first quarter review of my year – I was going to tell you how my marathon training was going, the races I’ve done as part of my #20in20 Race Challenge and all the races I could look forward to in the second quarter of the year. Well… the universe had other plans for all of us! COVID-19 ravaged Wuhan and other parts of China and Asia before making it’s way to Europe, the USA, Australia and more recently Africa. Yesterday Botswana confirmed it’s first three positive cases but with all four neighbouring countries already affected, the Government has been proactive in putting in place similar interventions as others with the hope that we minimise the impact COVID-19 will have on our less than robust health care system.

This means many of us are now working from home and homeschooling our kids. Restaurants have limited opening hours and only allow takeaways; all conferences and workshops have been cancelled; and liquor stores have been shut for 30 days. Of course, all races have been postponed or cancelled and most running clubs have stopped their group runs. Just this morning, the President of Botswana declared a complete lockdown, starting midnight 2nd April and lasting 28 days. In such a short space of time, life has completely changed.

How Far Did I Get With Marathon Training? After my Soweto Half Marathon in November 2019, I started a 60 Day Run Strong Marathon Programme with Coach Nicola designed to build general strength and create a solid base for marathon training. The timing was perfect and I finished the year strong, even achieving a Half Marathon PB on the 29th of December 2019. In January, I started training for the Addo Ultra Trail (44km) in South Africa but when my plan to run Addo fell through (non-coronavirus related), I quickly adjusted my training plan to focus only on the Diacore Marathon which was scheduled for the 3rd of May 2020. Each week, I grew stronger and more confident in my ability. In February, I ran my highest ever monthly mileage, 171.1 km and even topped it in March with a total of 171.6 km.

I cried the first time I ran longer than a Half – 23km. A solo 24km followed and forced me to dig deep. I was so grateful when my husband zoomed by on his bike for a quick hi!

Two weeks later, I managed an even stronger 26km, with my pace faster than my 24km. I was having a dream training cycle, exploring different landmarks and buildings in the city and venturing further afield to Tlokweng and Kanye for some hilly runs. I was also finding creative ways to get my weekly runs done, one day running 11km home from work. I felt victorious.

In Week 14 of 20, the marathon was cancelled. I knew it was coming as the COVID-19 situation across the world was escalating. But actually hearing it… yeah, that hit hard.

#20in20 Race Challenge: In addition to training for my first marathon, I also have a challenge to run 20 races in 2020. I participated in my first towards the end of January, the Y-Care 15K Walk Race, the Phobians Pretoria Half Marathon followed in February and then in early March I managed the Gabane 20K Trail Run.

Blogging: This has been one of my big highlights this quarter and I’ve been really pleased with what I’ve achieved on this front.

Race Recaps: I started the year with a huge race recap backlog from last year but thankfully I’m now up-to-date! If you missed any, here are all the links:

On The Run Series: My main focus this year is to encourage more people (particularly women) to start running. So I’ve tried to share tips on how to get started and how to tackle some of the challenges that come with running and keeping fit. I don’t know of any other Botswana-based running bloggers so I’ve also sometimes kept things quite specific to our local context but without throwing off my international readership. My most popular posts this year have so far been the ’10-Step Guide To Get You Off The Couch’ and ‘8 Safety Tips For Women Runners in Gaborone’. But the post I loved writing the most was actually, ‘Why Coming Last in A Race is Okay’. Anyway, here are all the links so you can decide which is your favourite!

Collaborations: This year I’ve also approached people with specific expertise or experience in certain areas and asked them to blog for me. The three I’ve posted so far have been so well received and I’m really looking forward to getting more guest bloggers on board!

Now What? When my Marathon was cancelled, my friends and I first thought we should continue with the training cycle and run our own marathon on the scheduled date. After all, we’d put in all the training – let’s finish what we started, right? But after a lot of thinking, I opted out. I listened carefully to the quiet voice in my head, and it said no. So did my heart.

This was to be my FIRST marathon and a huge part of me wanted all the bells and whistles that go with that – the crowds at the start, the cheers on the course, the energy of the race and the medal at the end. I felt that if I did our own, I would still want to do a ‘real’ one later on in the year but that would mean giving up more time with family, roping in babysitters for weekend runs and juggling work with all the long runs mid-week. I just felt I couldn’t do it now, and then do it again a few months down the line. So I made the hard decision to pause marathon training and focus on the goals I had in line for after my marathon. Many of these goals are actually from my #40By40 Challenge – a list of things I’m doing before my 40th. I’ve chosen the following:

    • Complete a 40 Day Running Streak: Run at least 4km a day for 40 consecutive days. I’m on Day 9 and will complete it on the 1st of May.
    • Run a Sub-2:15 Half Marathon: I’ve chosen the 17th May to attempt this! I’ll rope in a few pace makers to help me achieve this. I’ve also signed up for a virtual race so this means I’ll even get a medal for my efforts!
    • Accomplish 4 Pull Ups: This is something that will probably take longer than the pandemic. After a week of trying, I can’t even do one unassisted.
    • Get Toned Arms
    • Complete 40 Push Ups in one sitting: I’m at 8. So…I have a long way to go!

I’ve also started doing other challenges just to keep me motivated, for example, I’m currently doing a 30 Day Squat and Arm Workout Challenge as well as the #19for19 Challenge hosted by Kim and Deborah. Just yesterday I also signed up for a Virtual Race Series called The Un-Canceled Project that Wendy spoke of on her blog. I’m also going to continue blogging and putting out as much content as I can. If you have anything you’d like me to write about just let me know. So that’s it for my first quarter of the year. Signing off with 447.5 km in the bag and at this very strange time in our lives, let me end with this quote:

“Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

How have your plans changed in light of COVID-19? What are some of your new plans? What new challenges are you participating in? How are you staying motivated? Are you still able to run?

I’m joining Kooky Runner and Zenaida on their link up, Tuesday Topics. I’m also joining the Runner’s Roundup with Mile By Mile, Coach Debbie Runs, Confessions of a Mother Runner, Runs with Pugs, Running on Happy, and Faux Runner! Be sure to read their blogs and catch up with other runners on the link-up. Such great inspirational posts from around the world.

36 thoughts on “How COVID-19 Turned My 2020 Plans Upside Down

  1. As always, I’m impressed how you’ve turned the glass from half empty to half full! Keep up the blogging and the running (where you can) and I will try and add to one of your guest blogs soon…..

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think you made a wise decision by pausing marathon training for now. You are right: your first marathon deserves to be a spectacular, unforgettable and happy event.
    I love your #40By40 challenges! So many good goals!
    I’ve signed up for the Uncancelled Project as well that Wendy mentioned. Such a great idea for April!
    Who knows, maybe it will help to reach your #20in20 Race Challenge? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And now that we have a complete lockdown, training for the marathon would have been compromised anyway. So I think it was the best decision and training is never wasted. I feel so much stronger as a runner. Glad you signed up too! I love the themes they have for each week!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m so happy that you and Catrina will be participating with me in the Uncancelled Project! The project gives me some milestones to achieve and with the weekly intentions, it will give me some much needed optimism and positivity. I love your goals! Keep inspiring.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am very sorry about the canceled marathon, but SO glad you’re not going to continue your training for it. It’s just not the right time, and yes, for your first, you should have all the bells & whistles!

    Now is a time we need to stay active, but also not stress ourselves with too much exercise (which will look different for everyone).

    Good luck on all those challenges!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think for your first marathon you do deserve all the bells and whistles that come with it so I completely understand you pausing your training. You have had an amazing first quarter of the year!

    I missed Wendy’s post on the Uncancelled Project – I will have to check that out.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love your attitude! You had some great training runs and races. But you know I’ve been loving your posts. Thank you for sharing your wisdom, advice and positivism (is that a word?). I had had a list of 40 things to do before I turned 40 but to date am not even close to accomplishing it. Perhaps I should change it to 50 before 50? Thank you for linking up with us!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. So sorry for the first marathon getting cancelled. I totally get why you chose to delay doing the marathon distance, though. Especially with little kids, you have a lot of at-home priorities, and they will be the benefactors in you being there. YOur marathon will come…and you’ll know it when the time is right 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That was one of my biggest reasons – my girl had already commented that I was always running. So I couldn’t do it and then do it all over again a few months down the line. My marathon will come and in the meantime I’ll focus on getting stronger 👊


  8. You’re so inspiring! All of our local races here have also been cancelled, and we are actually not allowed to run out of our homes/yards at the moment. You will see many SA blogging runners running in circles around their houses at the moment. ( check out the Mzantsi Marathon Challenge – run 42km in 21 days) Keep up the good training, and I will be cheering you on (virtually) when you do tackle that first 42.2km.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! 🌺 I’ve actually seen some SA runners have posted their routes and it’s as you say circles or zig zags around their houses. That has been amazing to see. Now that we’ll have a lockdown like yours, I think it’s time to check out that challenge!


  9. I’m so sorry that your race was cancelled, I know a few people who were going to run their first marathons this spring and it seems like a much bigger loss that the half marathons that I had planned. The races are nice, but they are only one day and it’s all of the training that goes into them that matters. Running isn’t cancelled and neither is run-blogging, something tells me that we’ll all have plenty to write about.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. So many plans have been upended. I understand not training for a virtual marathon and agree you’d want to do a “real” one anyway. Here liquor stores are deemed “essential” like grocery stores. :-O

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m sorry so many of your plans were changed! It sounds like you still had a great start to the year. I hear ya on wanting all the bells and whistles for your first marathon. Its a huge commitment!


  12. It’s interesting to hear what the rules and lockdown arrangements are there. I have been hearing from clients all over the world and things are do different in different places. I have stopped running altogether now as it was too hard to keep the distance maintained between me and others. I also think you’ve made the right decision – my own DIY mara was my third one and I’d done all the training and just missed the race, so it made sense. Your decision makes sense. Stay well.


  13. Sounds like you have made the right decision for now. I am glad you decided to do our #19for19Challenge and I will also see you at the uncanceled project virtual races. Hang in there and thanks for linking up


  14. It sounds like you made the right choice regarding your marathon training. I wanted all the bells and whistles too and it will make a huge difference when you run that 26.2.

    I’m also piecemealing the smaller challenges (19for19 and the Un-Cancelled Project) just to get some motivation. My race calendar was already pretty limited due to my injury, so I am not dealing with as much of the disappointment as so many other runners are right now. It still stinks 😦

    Thanks for linking up!


  15. You and your husband are the cutest! I, too, love it when my husband rides with me for a short part of my run.

    I’m so sorry that your marathon got canceled, but I think your choice to not run 26.2 miles on your own is wise for so many reasons. You really do want your first marathon to be special!


  16. I’m curious about the word ‘lockdown.’ Does that mean you can’t even go out? That would make everything very difficult.

    It sounds like you’ve stayed positive in spite of the restrictions that Covid-19 has put upon us. I had 4 races canceled, including a Ragnar Relay, and I expect my marathon at the end of May will be canceled as well. It would have been my 40th but it’s hard to find the motivation to train without knowing if it will take place.


  17. I was wondering whether you were feeling the effects outside of the race cancellations. When we did our coffee hour yesterday, Renee told us about some of the impact in the Netherlands. One of many reasons i love our international bloggers.
    I think you made the right decision re: a virtual marathon for all the reasons you said. I might need to borrow some of your 40… goals. I was doing a Beachbody workout and back to back pushups and plank were just EEEEEVIL.
    Hang in there & stay safe


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