Covid-19 has actually allowed me to focus more on exercise than ever because I am not rushing about after the children as school and clubs have been cancelled, plus my husband has been lucky enough to work from home.
The 20 Mile Race
Despite the fact that the World Health Organisation has declared Covid-19 as a pandemic my 20 mile race still went ahead. At the time we all just thought it was pretty much a flu-like thing for old people. Although my friend who gave me a lift to the race was a bit more nervous and had her own hand gel with her. We were all told to just wash our hands – and so there was plenty of soap available that day. Plus the helpers were wearing disposable gloves – but I think that was the extent of things.
I had signed up for the 20 mile race because I was going to build up my mileage. Somehow things just got in the way but yet I was more prepared than usual as I had done several 10 mile and a half marathon race in the months leading up to it. The previous year I had run Gloucester 20 (miles) with only one long race and virtually no training at all (well if you can call club runs and Parkrun training that is). This time I decided to Jeff it and all was going great until another runner made a not so nice reply to a compliment I gave their group. I am really easily affected like that. Part of me really wanted to finish ahead of them, but my rational side told me to slow down, hold back and let them go. I needed to make sure I could make the distance of the course. Then around the possibly 12 mile mark the lady from running club who had helped me at the first half marathon I jeffed had been left and was struggling to keep up her pace. I suggested she tried jeffing with me and we made it round together. Although when we were coming to the very last bit she suggested that we just continuously run but I couldn’t. The other races had High 5 for fuelling, but this one only had water- and whatever I had taken along (I remember having Percy Pigs). My legs just felt like lead was beginning to doubt that I would actually make it. I told her to just carry on ahead. But something happened and when my Garmin beeped to tell me it was a run segment and I could see the finish line ahead they just worked. As I levelled up with her I told her that we should sprint finish. I am used to doing this with my boys at Parkrun (even though I never stand a chance with the teen!). I think I did about a 6 ½ minute mile (only for a small fraction of a mile mind you) to that race line – and my feet were off the floor. The crowd at the end were not expecting it and I got such a cheer. Thankfully the photographer was still there to capture it too! I had taken twenty-minutes off my 20 mile time too!
It was another 11 days since that race to my first run in official lockdown. Getting running in was easier because now there wasn’t lots of other things to do and initially we could only leave the house for daily exercise and food shopping once a week (ideally). I encourage my family to run, and to try jeffing. I had decided that I would try to ensure that I still did my at least 10 mile run because I had built up to it – and besides at this point all my races were not cancelled. I also did the Virtual Races to the Stones Marathon – but ended up doing it over the week. I had a medal for that. My fuelling isn’t great, and I think that’s why I struggled in Fission 20:20. I have since been taking advice from friends (see below) but sometimes I know it isn’t right because I suffer with a two-day headache afterwards. Running in the heat was also quite difficult.
In Memory of Andrew Murray
By the time it came to June my friend had arranged a virtual charity 10 mile event in memory of her husband Andrew Murray. Andrew was 10 miles from home when he was involved in a road accident on his motorbike. The idea was to complete the 10 miles however you wished. There was even a medal and goody bag. Seeing as I had regularly been doing 10 miles I did not feel that this was much of a challenge and so I tried to cover 10 miles one way or another for as many days as possible. But on the 4th June I learnt that a family member had been killed in a collision with a lorry and the mini-bus they were travelling in, then the following day was a year since the anniversary of my aunt’s death – and it just stopped my motivation.
The Garmin Badges have been a great motivator though. In the last week of June I covered just under the 50 miles I still needed for my 100 badge. A lot of these miles were jeffing on my own. I found them easy to do and they could sometimes be done before even everyone was up in the morning (despite the fact I had covered 10 miles). Garmin really is what has kept pushing and pushing me. As I went through July realising that my mileage had increased every month since last October so I didn’t want to stop that. It was really hot and hard to do but I just about managed it.
Step Goal during Lockdown
Garmin also pushed me with my steps. Once I figured how to set the target to just 10,000 steps a day (instead of increasing and decreasing depending on activity levels). I thought once I got past 100 days in a row I would have it as a habit. I was wrong. I got to 103 days and then it just went all to pot. I think it is because although I managed to get the steps in I hadn’t actually achieved it through any kind of routine or new habit. Suddenly life got in the way and it took away the motivation to go out when tired and seemingly too busy.
Running with Others Again
In June I started running with others a bit; first a lady from running group and Parkrun; mainly a group from running club on long Sunday runs; then a few with Jeffers and eventually my husband. I really get different things out of the various people I run or jeff with. Whether it is helping me to go on slower runs (which are really important and how you should train, keeping the heart rate low), advise on fuelling, equipment, etc (I also met up with a super-duper elite running friend who helped assess my running and gave me some tips), push me, plan fab routes, and pushing me out of my comfort zone (currently tackling a lot more hills than I would have ever dreamed of) – as well as being great company and offering me the social side.
Where I am with my Running Now
I definitely feel stronger for the extra mileage and have got a 1K PB running up a hill! and a 5K PB by jeffing! I was also seconds off my 10K PB by jeffing, which I hadn’t come close to since I achieved it in a race almost 3 years ago.
But the jumps in mileage have been quite ridiculous; before lockdown I was lucky to hit 50 miles in a month – but May saw the leap to 90 miles and so now we are talking over 100 miles every month to keep on increasing. Thing is my family don’t feel quite as keen me taking the time to run all the time, it has been very hot and I had started to find it more difficult to recover from them (particularly when running continuously). I have struggled with running shoes and now even the pink ones have a puncture underneath. I recently tried even walking in my Vaporflys and I have had trouble with my left knee ever since. I thought it was okay again and managed 4 miles jeffing with my husband. It seemed fine and I felt strong but then it really hurt again afterwards. I have missed many a long run and I need to try to convince myself that less than 100 miles this month is not only okay but the sensible thing if I do not want a long term permanent injury. My husband has a new Garmin and has tried jeffing with me (even at the club now too) and I think that will be a big part of the way forward.
I still have one half marathon in October that was postponed from April and has yet to be cancelled too.