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Barrie athlete urges people to shun isolation, run for 'a great cause'

Rachel Hannah is a spokesperson for #MyisolationRun movement; 'It motivates me to get out and run,' says athlete of opportunity to assist fight against COVID-19
rachel hannan pursuit june 4
Rachel Hannah is shown training in Sedona, Arizona. The highly decorated Barrie runner is one of the driving forces behind #MyisolationRun, a movement aimed at raising funds for COVID-19. Contributed photo

COVID-19 may have shut down competitive road races for the time being, but Rachel Hannah is still on the move.

One of Canada's top marathoners, the Barrie Innisdale Secondary School graduate is urging runners across the country to take to the streets for a good cause and join the #MyisolationRun movement this summer.

Participants can run up to any distance and then go to isolationrun.org where they can choose one of the more than 72 COVID-19 related charities and donate to help support health-care workers in their local communities. 

"It motivates me to get out and run," said Hannah, who is a spokesman for the run and a participant herself.

Already more than 140 runners have registered and raised more than $18,400 for 70 charities.

Getting out there and pounding the pavement could help save lives in this pandemic.

"It's a great cause and if people have the means to donate it's a great idea," said Hannah, a five-time Canadian championship runner and a bronze medal winner in the marathon at the 2015 Pan Am Games.

"It's nice that you can choose a charity of your choice. If you have one where you have friends or family in that healthcare field or at the hospital where you had a family member there it means a lot more to you," said Hannah.

"It's a great initiative that they're able to put this together."

Hannah is also taking part in today's Global Running Day, featuring road races coast to coast across Canada. The special event asks Canadians to move and be active in support of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA).

The fun virtual event sees Canadians run, walk or roll at the time and location of their choosing while helping to raise money for the CMHA, which provides advocacy, programs and resources in over 330 communities across the country.

The CMHA's services help those experiencing mental health problems and illnesses and support recovery in resilience, which is especially vital during this time of uncertainty.

Go to raceroster.com to register or donate to the fun run.

"It gives you something that's consistent and familiar because right now we're just dealing with all the changes," Hannah said of getting out for a run in these trying times." If you can do something that you're normally doing every day and kind of keep that routine I think it helps keep a sense of normal activity."

Like most sports during this pandemic, competitive races have been shelved and Hannah admits it hasn't been easy dealing with all the uncertainty, though she says she's feeling much better recently. 

The competitive athlete has spent the last few months getting back to the basics of running. She stopped doing as many workouts and instead has done more running for the enjoyment of it and the mental health benefits.

"I find that one of the big reasons to try and get out the door most days is for sanity purposes," said Hannah, who now resides in Guelph and is a registered dietitian at the University of Guelph's Health and Performance Centre.

"I think now that things are starting to open back up in stages it seems more promising right now," the 33-year-old Georgia State University graduate added. "We still have to be really careful. It's still going to be a while before things are back to normal."

Hannah hasn't raced since last October and was sidelined for a couple of months with a bone stress injury. She resumed training in Sedona, Arizona in February before the pandemic started forcing the cancellation of races.

She's been running some virtual races put on by the Canada Running Series and has an 8K run coming up this month.

"They give you a month time frame and you can actually run the races multiple times if you're not happy with your times," said Hannah, who will also run similar virtual races in July and August.

While no one knows when competitive racing will return, Hannah was excited to return to training back in February. She's learned a lot from past injuries and pushing to get back in shape too quickly.

"I'll get injured and come back and build too much mileage and too much intensity and workouts at the same time, and that usually leads to injury," Hannah explained. "This time around, I'm just being cautious and building mileage more slowly and not running as much."

Unable to swim with pools closed to get in some cross training, Hannah has been doing some bike riding.

"I'm just trying to be smart about my training," she said. "So, I actually think for me, personally, it's a good thing if I don't have to race right away and just train for many, many months."

Hannah is available for clients looking for nutrition help and can be reached at rachelhannahrd@gmail.com.     



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