On the 14th of March I ran outside for the last time. When I will run outside again is anybody´s guess, but here we are in Spain, on day seven of full lockdown which means I will be cooped up doing hallway shuttles until the 11th April, at the very least.
What does full lockdown mean? For us here in Galicia, Northern Spain, it means that we can only leave the flat for six specific reasons. Hypothetically, before work (at my essential job, official letter in hand), I could take my dog to the pharmacy, buy some cigarettes at a kiosk and pop into the supermarket on the way home to pick up some milk for my elderly neighbour. I can also take the bins out. However, unlike our French neighbours, here in Spain we cannot, cannot, cannot go outside to exercise. If the viral videos of police arrests and fines up to 600 euros for running in the street don´t serve as a deterrent, perhaps it is the abuse hurled from the balconies of dozens of frustrated neighbours that keeps us all indoors.
Things happened very quickly here. On Thursday 12th March, we were still in limbo awaiting news about the possible cancellation of a rapid 10km in Asturias, and by Sunday we were locked up, with police patrols and military landing in the city to block entry and exit. The “common sense” approach to social distancing lasted a day or two. In this time, I battled with a moral predicament. I ran outdoors, respecting distances and doing my utmost to stick to the expert advice, yet the beaches were packed out. I knew there was no other choice. I got home that Saturday after a run on the promenade and knew that would be the last time I would leave the house.
Unfortunately, I never considered a global pandemic when choosing where to live. I did, of course, value the coastal boardwalks and leafy trails which I have relished since moving here permanently last summer. I can see these routes from our second floor windows, but they have never felt so out of reach.
On day one I woke feeling victorious after remembering that we have an underground garage in our block: Three stories, 750m from top to bottom, end to end. I woke up at 5am, plugged into headphones and felt joyous as I squinted through the dim lights for thirty minutes of laps and ramps and turns. This isn´t so bad, I thought. Until they brought in a new measure two days later: no running in the stairways, communal areas or garages.
Neighbours across Spain had voiced their concerns. Running out of options, quite literally. I panic bought a spin bike, I have squatted myself into oblivion and have resorted to doing 1km shuttles in my hallway, which, according to my Garmin, measures a measly 10m. It doesn´t take a mathematician to work out that is far too many lengths. Meanwhile, elsewhere in Galicia an athlete ran 61km as a tribute to the Coronavirus health line, 061 and in Madrid, a friend´s Strava logged 9km of running “on the spot”. Apparently, I need to up my game.
Many people will argue that this is unfair, that this is unhealthy, and I understand the frustration. Nevertheless, I do know for sure is that hospitals right now cannot afford to deal with anything other than the urgent, and after our sneak preview of sensible social distancing, I think that the world and his wife would be out running given half a chance. This is far bigger than any of us, it is bigger than my goals. Just over two weeks ago I toed the line in one of the biggest races of my life (Spanish Indoor Champs). It was a big deal for me not merely due to its importance in the national athletics calendar, but for what it represented on a personal level after three years without competing. I´d reached close to the form of my life again, after a lot of hard work, and at times it feels like this form has been snatched away. Yet I know this is something we have to do, and if I came back once, I can do it again. Until then, I´ll be patient, work on my weaknesses, keep myself and others busy and safe. Those leafy trails and promenades aren´t going anywhere.
Guest Blog – Angharad Davies, Galicia, Spain