By: Richelle Criswell

For the last 8 years, Tuesday nights were reserved for trail running with the group of women I coach. Through the heat of the Texas Summer and the handful of days we call “Winter,” eight to ten women show up each week ready to run. When faced with “Shelter-at-Home,” running as a group was no longer an option. 

Instead of being bummed and pouting about what I/we couldn’t do, I chose to focus on the positive– what CAN we do? Tuesday night run groups transformed into Tuesday night stretch groups. Most runners will tell you that they don’t stretch enough because of time constraints and it’s just not fun.  I now have plenty of time to stretch and since we are all becoming experts on Zoom, I no longer have to stretch on my own. As for the “fun” factor. . . watch me, a novice online stretching instructor, try to get into a stretch pose, explain it, and also set the camera so that you can actually see what I am trying to do.  I’ve had to apologize to my viewers for a few “too close” “close-ups.” 

I’d rather be running on Tuesday nights, with my trail running buddies, but stretching on Tuesday nights has improved my solo Wednesday runs. The Tuesday night run group has become more than a run group. Over the years, it’s turned into a supportive group of women who are going through life and dealing with the highs and  lows that are thrown their way. We keep coming back each week because we get to express ourselves physically and emotionally. We all have running in common, and maybe without running, our circles may have never crossed–but they did. 

We have a tradition in our running group called HHH. Hydration Happy Hour. We celebrate HHH on the last Tuesday of the month after our run workout. We head to the brewhouse nearby, which is also a pizzeria and grab dinner and drinks. We celebrated HHH on Tuesday, April 28th with a Zoom call. Each of us had our drink and snack of choice. Instead of rehashing COVID-19, we focused on what each of us was doing with our newly found free time. We learned about “new to us” features in Garmin Connect and Strava. We also learned that each of us are still finding ways to be active and thanks to the Group Leader Board in Strava, we’ve found fun ways to encourage each other to get out and do something that Strava can track. 

I can no longer say that I don’t have time to stretch– I do. I can’t even say I don’t have time to do strength work. Body weight strength work is tough, especially when you do it right after your run workout. The hours I used to spend procrastinating about “doing my strength work” are now spent doing other things because I’ve learned that I can do these workouts in 30 minutes (that less time than an episode on Netflix).  The next challenge will be what to do when stretch group returns to being a run group. Hopefully, I will have created a good habit during this time and will continue to stretch!