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Noel Paine is an avid lifelong runner, running dad, blogger, communications professional and author of the book, Talking Running: stories, profiles and conversations with the running community. 

Paine has a passion for healthy living and is also an advocate for mental health.

In this week’s column, the Ottawa resident shares his thoughts on running during COVID-19, as well as his fitness and health goals.

Here is our Q&A:

Q: How has your training been affected by the novel coronavirus?

A: Covid-19 led to me being laid off from my communications job. I tried to look at the situation as an opportunity as much as it was/is a problem.  It is a chance for me to evaluate the situation, be grateful for what I have, and look for new adventures and connections. I am also grateful to be home and be with my family.

I have applied the same principle to my running. I have adjusted and am enjoying having the time to not only run but race walk (something I have taken up in 2020). 

I start the day with a casual walk and meditation, come back and have breakfast while job searching, doing social media and writing. 

The afternoon is for a race walk, and the evening usually a run. With kids, groceries, household stuff the day passes quickly.

I like to train so I am not as dependent on carrots as some runners. I am aiming to go after a marathon PB (personal best) in the fall whether I have to run it solo or not.

Q: How is the running landscape in Ottawa?

A: Ottawa is a very active city and a few streets were closed to accommodate people walking, running and cycling. 

With gyms currently closed there are a lot more people running along sidewalks and just walking about.

Q: What do you see in the future for running events?

A: I think some of the virtual races may have to adapt if things continue too long; to provide prizes, merchandise or more incentives to motivate people. 

I am hoping in 2021 that races can start up again with precautions in place (while) ensuring people are cautious and aware – but I think larger races for 2020 at least in most of Canada/US will not be happening.

Q: What are the benefits of exercising during this time?

A: Running is a great way to blow off steam, get rid of the stress that can build up and come back home with a clearer head.

With so many unknowns and things constantly changing – it creates a stress, low-level anxiety and uncertainty. 

This is in addition to worries about money, kids etc. – can really affect mental health.

Running is a great tool in the mental health toolkit to pull out during times like now.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who needs motivation?

A: Runners all have their reasons for lacing up. Some just love to run, others need a race or goal and (for) some its part of a gym routine and they just grind it out to get it done. My advice would be to keep it fun. 

Use a virtual challenge, explore your neighborhood or find new routes. Paint rocks with positive messages and drop off on your run, train for a solo marathon or a long distance you have never achieved. 

Keep it interesting and try not to let it become another stress or worry.

Q: How are you coping at this time?

A: I think I am doing okay so far and trying to balance mental and physical health and control what I can and letting the rest go. 

I also remind myself that there are ups and downs in a good training plan (work and rest), in life and in the body’s energy levels (mental and physical). 

We sometimes need to listen to our bodies.

Q: What is next for you?

A: I am one who is never bored and always something to do, projects waiting for me to get back to! I have a couple book projects I want to make inroads on, a podcast and a fall marathon I plan to run…maybe another book this year, and hopefully a post about me running a personal best!

Fitness Friday is submitted by Christine Blanchette and please follow her on her Youtube Channel as well as Twitter.

Stay Safe and keep in shape

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