I first heard of The Un-Canceled Project organised by Run The Edge when fellow blogger Wendy wrote about it. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. At that point, we were days away from a complete lockdown and I was feeling quite overwhelmed. Run The Edge was offering a free virtual race series with several distance options (5K, 8K, 10K, 15K, Half Marathon, Full Marathon and Ultra) as well as the opportunity to bond with a wider running community. I was immediately drawn to it for its positive outlook and concept of focusing on the feelings that are within our control, even if our current situation is not. In their words, The Un-Canceled Project is about “refusing to allow fear to make us angry or unkind to others… it is about focusing on the positive, and celebrating the things that make us the most human.”
“Pessimism leads to weakness, optimism to power.” – William James
The theme of the first week was GRATITUDE, shifting our focus from “the holes in our life right now” and reminding ourselves what we have to be grateful for. My first run was a 10K on the last day we could run outdoors. I ran slowly and savoured each km. I visited a mural I hadn’t seen before and let my mind focus on all the things I had as opposed to what I’d lost. I was grateful for this final run on a beautiful crisp morning. I was grateful for my comfortable home and the fact I could easily work from there. I was grateful for technology that would allow my kids to be home-schooled and me to keep in touch with friends and family. I was grateful for my old treadmill that would keep me running. In the weeks that followed this was emphasised even more by some of the devastating stories I heard of people losing loved ones to COVID-19, patients suffering alone in hospitals, people struggling with job losses, and women and children being abused in their homes. Yes, life has been overwhelming but I have a lot to be grateful for.
The second week was all about HOPE and every time I think about what hope means I remember South African anti-apartheid and human rights activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s words, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness”. I’m generally a very hopeful person and the old adage that “this too shall pass” has carried me through some very difficult times. At this stage of the race series, so many wonderful things were also happening around us – charity drives for those in need, free online resources, strangers reaching out to help others and friends leaning on each other. I just felt that in all the chaos, there was so much hope for a kinder, more nurturing and more compassionate human race.
By the time I got to the third week, my relationship with my treadmill was in tatters. I’m not typically a treadmill runner BUT with some effort, I can run on a functioning treadmill. Note the word functioning. My treadmill is on its last legs and my poor husband has had to service it daily. Sometimes it just doesn’t start. On days it does, the belt often has some jerky movements mid-run before slowly stopping. That’s when I’m lucky. Other days I’m flying and then Boom! I come to a grinding halt often to the great excitement of my children! After a few failed attempts to start it, there is usually nothing I can do but to complete my run with a few mind-numbing, knee-killing circles in my yard. There’ve been days I’ve cried. But other days I laugh at the absurdity of it all. This week was all about HUMOUR and I love that this was included as a theme because our ability as humans to find humour in the most difficult of circumstances is amazing.
The theme for the fourth week was INSPIRATION. Run The Edge said on their blog that “we all have something that pulls us toward a goal, that drives us to improve, and that we aspire to reach one day…[and] that ‘something’ is Inspiration”. This week I thought of all the runners who’ve inspired me this lockdown. So many runners especially in countries like South Africa and Botswana where running outside was prohibited have been running circles in their yards or doing shuttle runs in their driveways. For some runners, this was not possible but they increased their strength work and took on fitness challenges. Runner bloggers have continued to write inspirational posts to get us through the weeks and those on social media have motivated us off the couch on days we were tempted to do nothing but eat our baked goodies!
COURAGE was the theme for Week 5 and was defined by Run The Edge as “being able to forge ahead and try our best despite the fear. It is admitting that we feel fear, but not letting it dictate our lives.” This is really how I define courage too. I’ve always been very open with my emotions and I think some equate this to weakness. Not for me, I cry it out and then quickly look for the next step forward. Courage for me is not being scared to show or feel your emotions, but also knowing how to dig deep and find a way to walk through the difficult times, to feel the pain, and to come out on the other end. I also think a lot of us don’t know how courageous we are until we are tested. Many of us will look back at this time and see just how strong we have been.
The final week was my favourite theme of all, COMMITMENT and as Run The Edge stated, “commitment may not be the most glamorous aspect of being human, but it is one of the most important.” Yes! It doesn’t matter how many plans we make, how many new resolutions we write down, if commitment is missing, it all means nothing. This is true for every aspect of our lives and especially so for running and fitness. I shared a quote by Art Turock on my Facebook and Instagram Pages, “There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when circumstance permit. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results.” I’ve hated every treadmill run this lockdown. I’ve been frustrated by yard running. I’m not a fan of strength work. But I am committed to being the best runner I can be and the fittest version of myself. So I get it done. Yes, commitment is boring, but if results are what you are looking for, there’s no way around it!
And that, my friends, is how The Un-Cancelled Project got me through six weeks of lockdown! I have so much to be grateful for and I’m hopeful that we will all emerge from this stronger. I’ve cried but also laughed a lot. I’ve been inspired by so many people around the world. I admire the courage of our essential workers but also the strength of those who have stayed at home to keep the ship afloat. And I’m committed to never forgetting the personal lessons I’ve gained from this pandemic. So popular was The Un-Canceled Project that Part 2 was launched this week offering 6 more weeks of fantastic themes – Dreams, Kindness, Joy, Community, Perseverance and Life. Hope you sign up, it’s not too late to join the positivity!
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 Organic Runner Mum! Be sure to read their blogs and catch up with other runners on the link-up. Such inspirational posts from around the world.