The Unexpected Joys of Driveway Running


On 26 March 2020 the whole of South Africa was placed under house arrest. It wasn’t long before runners with itchy legs were doing all sorts of crazy things to get their running fix. I decided to join in the lunacy with a Home IronMann to raise money for Just The One Foundation but I would have to say that running a marathon in my driveway was my least favourite (and by far the toughest) leg of the triathlon.

The novelty of running a marathon in your driveway can wear thin very quickly. This is what I look like without my sense of humour.

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade – and when life gives you lockdowns, run marathons in your driveway.

With no other options available, a daily dose of driveway drudgery kept the beer belly away. As the lockdown extended, I grew to enjoy the daily break from the monotony of Zoom calls by pounding up and down my driveway. 

I was helped along the way by temporarily becoming a professional runner as Discovery Vitality would award the equivalent of R30 in Discovery Miles for 30 minutes or more of exercise. That got me out of the front door every day. I often started out with the intention to stop the moment I hit 30 minutes – and to be honest the first 15 to 20 minutes would be a real drag – but I would normally end up closer to the hour mark as I got into meditation mode and the laps flew by.

A daily dose of driveway drudgery kept the beer belly away.

I should point out we were fortunate enough to buy a house that’s up a panhandle and therefore we have a very long driveway of roughly 120 metres one way. But every silver lining has a cloud and in this case it’s that the bottom of my driveway is a lot closer to sea-level than the top. The entire driveway route is essentially one long hill. 

There is a simplistic beauty in driveway running and I have to admit that I still managed to work in the odd driveway trot after we were paroled from Level 5 lockdown restrictions. I made sure that there was always a valid reason – which was usually that Kathy (my wife) was out and I had to “be in the general vicinity” to look after the kids (however this did result in our neighbours, who watched me on their security camera, enquiring after my mental health).

And then at the beginning of July 2021 my wife and daughters all got COVID and were Mann-down with the virus. Fortunately, I was asymptomatic (Mann-flu is bad enough so I didn’t want to experience COVID-Mann-flu) but I did the responsible thing and joined the rest of the family in quarantine. As to why I remained fit and healthy while the rest of the family battled the bug, my only conjecture is beer – I am the only member of my household that drinks beer* so that must have had something to do with it.

* This might seem far-fetched but it’s more credible than some of the conspiracy theories I’ve seen on the internet.

On the topic of beer, I did have one major scare. I was drinking beer one evening and I couldn’t taste anything – but then I realised it was all okay as I was drinking Castle Lite. 

If you’re drinking a beer and can’t taste anything, it’s not necessarily a COVID symptom. You might just be drinking Castle Lite.

I was burning plenty of calories as all the housework (cooking meals within my culinary limitations and rudimentary cleaning) now fell upon my shoulders. However, my legs and stomach still needed some exercise and I relished a prolonged return to the driveway whilst we were in quarantine.

Running with your kids is one of the many benefits of driveway running (although it can be quite demoralising when your running partner keeps sprinting off into the distance)..

One of the benefits of driveway running is that it gives you plenty of time to think (and very little to distract you from your deep thoughts). Lest you doubt the authenticity of my affinity for driveway running, here’s the result of my deep thoughts around the allure of driveway running:

  • If you are a regular guy (or a runner with a sensitive disposition) you are always close to a safe space with a soft landing (assuming you buy double-ply). No more missed training runs the night after having a dodgy seafood curry.
  • You can run with your phone and listen to music. Overseas readers may be wondering why you can’t run with your phone outside the sanctuary of your home – let’s just say that it’s not a good idea to run the streets with your phone unless you’ve got a really good insurance policy and it’s time for an upgrade.
  • Get the whole family involved. With screen time on the increase and mental health on the decline, we instituted a daily Vitamin D ritual where our daughters could only do screen time once they’d done a certain number of laps of the driveway. This provided some great bonding time (although it was quite demoralising to have your daughters sprint off into the distance on a regular basis). 
  • No mask required. The etiquette of mask wearing while running is contentious. Personally, I run with a buff around my neck and will go gangster in close proximity to another pedestrian wearing a mask. But let’s face if you’re not leaving your footprints around all over town, you don’t need to run with a prophylactic.
  • Ecologically friendly weeding. I made a point of trampling all the weeds that continually crop up into oblivion. No need for pesticides or back breaking work – the weeds didn’t stand a chance again my size 12 Asics. 
  • Deep thinking time – given enough laps of your driveway, you’ll be able to think of ways to justify pretty much anything… like the unexpected joys of driveway running.
Whilst the etiquette of mask running is blurry, the law is crystal clear: Masks are optional for runners but mandatory for cyclists.
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