Mug Tom Hesse

The only friends I know who haven’t been made hypochondriacs by COVID-19 are those who were already worriers in that fashion heading into the pandemic.

Truly, those pioneers were on the cutting edge, and it is I who was the fool for finding their concern for looming health catastrophes to be unwarranted.

I now wake up somewhere in the order of twice a week believing I’ve contracted COVID-19.

A dry throat and achy body? Surely, the novel coronavirus has come for me and not that I just slept mouth agape like a big honking moron. Symptoms of the former can grow quite serious whereas the latter tend to dissipate around the second cup of coffee.

Thankfully, I’ve developed a system that has all the intellectual rigor of kitchen fire, which allows me to both self-evaluate for COVID-19 and ameliorate my health anxieties.

On days that I wake up worried for my health, I make sure to get outside and run. Not only does the fresh air chase off the Covid Madness, but I’ve convinced myself that if my pace is fast enough, then I can rest assured that I’m another day free of a notorious respiratory illness.

Now, running my little theory through the internet has not exactly returned peer-reviewed endorsements of the idea of rigorous exercise as a means to test negative for COVID-19.

As a general rule, if Google results for an idea you had contain the word “crackpot,” you might have to make some tweaks to your control group.

It’s also unwise to get too wedded to unorthodox approaches to any subject because folks tend to throw it in your face when it doesn’t work out for you. Best not to be too strident about your ability to think outside the box because your peers will remind you about it in great detail.

Besides, last time I got a real test for COVID-19, the results came back a brisk 32 hours and 18 minutes after the swab came out of my nose, so no one’s really banging down my door to improve upon that system.

Where were we? Oh, yeah. All this is to say that my mile splits when running have never known the motivation that is existential dread and virus- fueled anxiety. I’m faster than ever and have only terror to credit — plus I’m getting some much coveted sunshine.

Getting outside offers as good a respite from the Covid Madness as can be had. Feeling your body at work and absorbing fresh air distract from ruminations on the things that might take those feelings away from you.

The added safety of being outside also affords us the opportunity to recreate in a way that looks somewhat similar to how we might have a year ago, and in that you’re certain to find catharsis.

Also, sometimes I see goats on my run. So, that’s nice.

As we creep up on a year of — gestures around — this, I’ve been considering the time I’ve spent outside.

I’ve found immeasurable peace outside my home in the past year, whether it be rafting the Colorado River or high-stepping around rocks in the Lunch Loops looking to outrun a virus and the lunacy that comes with thinking about it too much.

And I hope you, too, have made it outside as often as possible over the past 11 months, for there is so much to be had out there.

You might travel outside only to inadvertently train your way into a marathon, strike an uneasy truce with the neighborhood cat, or even cross paths with some goats.

n

Tom Hess is city editor at The Daily Sentinel.