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Run4It Journal  •  Running Culture •  16.04.2020 •  5 min read

#RunTogetherApart - Embracing running community in times of isolation

During this time of self-isolation, social distancing and outdoor restrictions, it is important to embrace our sense of running community. We miss seeing our friends, our family and our running buddies on each passing day. We can start to feel a little lost. The current restrictions on exercise can send us down a spiral of negativity and leave us all feeling a bit deflated.

However, solo running doesn’t mean we’re running alone. Tartan Running Shorts Podcast began the #RunTogetherApart movement to bring the running community together. This movement promotes responsible running through social distancing and solo runs and at the same time, togetherness, in encouraging us to continue inspiring one another from afar.

Tom Brian & Kyle Greig, Tartan Running Shorts Podcast

Local club runner and Tartan Running Shorts co-host, Tom Brian, identified the need to bring the running world a positive message in a time of restrictions, anxiety and unpredictability, harnessing social media to spread the message. He mobilised others to engage in a simple act of solidarity: to share a picture of their running shoes with heart shaped laces (pre or post run) using the #RunTogetherApart hashtag. To create a sense of community and help people feel connected to others around them, during a forced solo activity.

We contacted Tom to ask him more about why he set up #RunTogetherApart and what it really means to him.

What were your key motives for setting up #RunTogetherApart?

“I went out for a run on Saturday morning feeling a bit low as the reality of the COVID-19 situation started to hit home. The social distancing requirements had just been announced on Friday and London Marathon had just been cancelled. I'd found that I’d be working at home for the next 6 weeks minimum and it looked like I wasn't going to be meeting the lads for a long run any more. It was all becoming pretty real and now actually affecting me. During the run I thought that there would be a lot of runners in Scotland in the same place. Runners feeling like all their training and sacrifices had been for nothing. To make matters worse, work was being affected which is always a worry.

With TRS and the social media feeds we have on it, I thought we have a platform so we should use it to try and pass a positive message. #RunTogetherApart came to me as I was writing the post. I thought it reflected well the message that despite now having to socially distance, we've all had our races cancelled. We're all a bit lost regarding reasons for training now and we're all concerned about things at home. Which means we're in it together. Sharing shoes gave a good symbol! Positivity and community are at the heart of TRS. It was always our primary goal to recreate that club night or long run chat about running and connect all those groups across Scotland. This felt like a really important time to do that.”

Were you surprised by the response?

“Very! We expected that we'd get a few likes from listeners but to see hundreds of listeners (and new listeners) get involved by sharing their shoe was really overwhelming. It shows how strong the running community is. We had some messages from listeners who are feeling lost right now. They are on their own and asking for advice about training/racing. This really showed how important it is to give people an option to reach out to. Run4It got involved which was really cool. We had Commonwealth Marathon medallist Robbie Simpson, Paralympian Del Rae, Scottish Athletics Chairman Ian Beattie and runners from clubs across the country get involved with their shoes which was just amazing!”

RunTogetherApart collection of social media posts

How does TRS plan to keep us motivated/entertained in the upcoming months?

“Without results to talk about, we're at a bit of a loss! Having said that, rambling about nonsense is one of our strengths so filling time won't be a problem! Both of our dance cards are a bit clearer now we're limited on how much we can leave the house. We're going to use this time to bank more interviews and get as many clubs and Scottish runners onto the show as possible. We've always tried to give the top club runners in Scotland a platform to tell the running community about themselves. These are the guys we all talk about at training, see winning races and can best relate to. I honestly believe a Scottish club runner would rather listen to an interview with Jamie Crowe or Craig Ruddy than Mo Farah. And the banter will be better!

So we're going to work on bringing more club runner interviews. We will engage more with Scottish Athletics to hear from them during this time. We're planning to give clubs and other running organisations the opportunity to tell the community about themselves. We're also working on some virtual challenges to encourage people to go out. These include a TRS 10 where runners have to run and submit their own run, a remote TRS Runner Injury Prevention class and some Facebook Live events. We think that anything that can encourage people to train and keep them engaged with running during this tough time is important.”

Is there any message you would like to share with our readers?

“As cringe as it sounds, TRS is done because we love doing it. We especially love hearing from and communicating with runners from across Scotland. Our motivation comes and goes like anyone so please, get in touch! Tell us your stories, tell us how you are managing to train now, tell us hilarious stories about your club mates. Let us know if you or your club mates would like to come on to talk about your club and generally give us content! Recommend us and review us. The bigger a profile we have the easier it is for us to get guests on. Then we can get prizes from companies to use in the competitions we're looking to run. Above all, we might be in for the long haul without races but we're in this together!”

Get involved...

There are many positive examples of the running community coming together and keeping each other motivated to keep running. From virtual club runs, to driveway and garden marathons, to simply sharing photos of local running routes on your doorstep.

Rainbow over a field

#RunTogetherApart helps runners come together and creates a sense of community. It reminds us all that we are in this together!

Show your support, by checking out Tartan Running Shorts weekly podcast and using the #RunTogetherApart hashtag on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

Tartan Running Shorts co-host, Tom Brian, identified the need to bring the running world a positive message in a time of restrictions, anxiety and unpredictability.

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