Well what a year 2020 was. There is no doubt about it that exercise was a key part of my 2020. I would say that the National Lockdown really gave me the freedom to do more, but honestly we were quite active even before that. I also feel that really my new found love of jeffing really propelled me to run more than ever.
How I started Jeffing
New Year’s Day meant the double Parkrun for myself and my family. It was during the second one that I first seriously spoke to the local jeffing club leader about trying the technique. You see when I was doing a 10 mile race at the end of the year I had ended up signing up for a half marathon. Which also happened to be right by a 10 mile race I had already signed up for!
From that first half marathon PB I have developed a love of jeffing ever since. I jeffed the next 10 mile race (with a 10:05 min/mile pace). Then joined in with the local jeffing sessions. This included doing a charity jeff to raise money for a lady doing the Virgin London Marathon. Before getting my family jeffing. And even trying to convince some friends along the way.
Parkrun in 2020
I even jeffed Parkrun. Although the last time at our home Parkrun was 1st February because the course wasn’t suitable due to flooding. Then of course it was sequentially cancelled due to the virus. I did, however, go along to another Parkrun with the local jeffing club. We then had breakfast together afterwards. It was the “Leap Day” so I got an extra Garmin badge.
The 5K Sub 30 Jeffing
I still remember how hard I worked to be able to run 5k under 30 minutes. People strive for it all the time. The PBs I had previously got jeffing I assumed were because they were for longer runs. Assuming it was because I gave up and walked on these when trying to continuously run. Never could I imagine being faster for runs that I was capable of running non-stop. The first time that this started to change was the second of March when I achieved a sub 30 time for 5K whilst jeffing.
I had been trying to replace my running shoes. My trusty Vivobarefoot shoes had finally had to go in the bin. None of their newer models felt right. They told me that they couldn’t help me. I ended up just running in some cheap pink Nike ones I had. Looking for new footwear went on until June. Ended up just using the pink ones and then just replacing them with similar ones. They have also been replaced with similar ones again since.
I’d also been playing about with ratios. When I achieved this sub 305K jeffing it was using a 60:30 ratio. Plus listening to music with 180 bpm. In July I achieved a 27:27 5K time running on my own (also 60:30). My fastest non-stop running 5K was with some other fast runners (26:47). This therefore is my fastest on my own.
The Final Live Race of 2020
I remember the last time we raced properly in 2020. My friend had her own hand sanitiser and people weren’t allowed to just hand you things. It was in the March and before they locked down schools. When the virus was thought to be just like flu and only really old people were going to die from it. The extra precautions at the time seemed very over the top. Cheltenham Races (horses) were also going ahead – so it really did feel like it couldn’t be that bad.
Needless to say it was my second 20 mile race. One which I hadn’t prepared for. I thought because I had been running 10 mile races, plus the half, I would be fine. Clearly there’s a reason people train. My fuelling was awful and they didn’t hand out the same stuff as at my previous races. By the end I just didn’t think my legs were going to make it. But somehow I did manage a sprint finish and took around 20 minutes off my previous 20 mile time.
The Virus and its Effect on Jeffing
Then lockdown happened. My running was then a mix of running continuously and jeffing. Some on my own, some with my family. Always trying to encourage them to keep moving. I am not sure whether it was due to the lockdown or jeffing but one was certainly the motivation to get my miles up. My mileage was increasing each month from the October. Just tiny adjustments really. That was up until May when there was a big jump.
Due to Lockdown we couldn’t run at our local club and so they had set some challenges. A hill challenge made me feel a failure, but the weather was awfully hot. In May I also bought new running clothing and got the boys out running. Even the teen and then tween came with me to do the hill challenge again. Plus there was non-parkrun. The miles just mounted up.
The Mile in June
So when June came around I just wanted to carry on beating that target. It was the anniversary of a lady from running club’s husband passing and there was a challenge to complete 10 miles. I was doing 10 miles easily at this point and so wanted to push myself more. For it to be supportive not just easy. Aiming to try to do 10 miles every day in some shape or form. But tragedy struck and I received news that my Uncle was hit by a lorry and died.
Still I kept pushing the mileage on and this time the youngest two boys came to do some hill training. This was an easier hill I thought. Wow did the youngest surprise me. He just left me and his brother behind!
June was the month when I was convinced that expert help to ensure I was running properly was more important than shoes. A local trainer gave me a price but he didn’t respond to me after I agreed to it. I don’t know what made me think of it, but I asked an old friend if he could help. Now this is not just any old friend but an absolute legend at running in my opinion. An elite runner and coach.
It was so nice to see him and catch up because it had been a very long time. He suggested we jog (erm a 10 min/mile) over to this open area. Once there he filmed me running several times and told me my running style was fine. If anything I might not roll on my foot. He suggested some drills to try and also gave me advice on my breathing. This is where I really struggle. That and getting too hot easily.
After we parted he was going for a run. I started with him and he seemed to be going so slowly. Chatting along. I went a different way and struggled to get to a mile. It turned out that slow chatty pace was an 8 min/mile! I later saw that his 1.5km PB was STILL 30 seconds faster than my 1km PB! Which was done as a flat out 1km!
The Sunday Runners
Then I was invited to join the Sunday Runners. This meant running continuously and doing things I wouldn’t have otherwise done. This included running up hills, going off-road more, further to name a few. We also stopped for ice-cream which was nice. During this time I have been given loads of advice: How to run up the hill. On fuelling. Bags, bladders and trainers. For example.
As we are all different in our speeds too it meant I could fluctuate between trying to push myself and going slower. I knew it wouldn’t matter what pace I did. That I couldn’t be too slow. No-one minds. It is just inclusive and trying to encourage each other to just keep moving forward.
The Virtual London Marathon
Somehow I ended up agreeing to take up a charity place for the Virtual London Marathon. We had often covered distances between 18-20 miles so I thought it achievable. I knew I wanted to jeff it though.
The Sunday Runners and the local jeffing group were so supportive. But I have already written all about that. After running the marathon though it was harder to get motivated. Even jeffing was so much harder work. I know that knowing I only had to run a little bit before I could walk again really spurred me on.
Difficulty Motivating Myself at the end of 2020
Of course then having a reduction in how many runners could meet again made it more difficult. I had got into a habit of a long Sunday run. On my own was much harder. But did manage a half marathon distance alone. What happened was that I was meant to be meeting up with two ladies separately – who both wanted to do around 6 miles. But our son was sick in the night and it was too close to Christmas for me to risk giving them anything.
November was quite an incredible month with me super loading the miles in at the end of the month. The only month that hadn’t got more than the previous one was August. But it was just shy of getting 120 miles for December to keep this up – and to be honest it had to stop somewhere. It would have meant running over Christmas. I didn’t think that was fair to my family. Aiming for a more realistic goal of making the mileage for the year up to 1000 so did that instead. It was still over 80 miles for the month so I was happy with that.
Jeffing into 2021
Now we are in 2021 I am most definitely a jeffer. Every time someone wants to go out running with me I hope they are happy to do a 2:1. This year I have even got my older teen out jeffing with me. Jeffing suits me well. Aiming for consistency this year but think I will end up going out when it fits and feels. I was also going to cross train more – upping the swimming. But that’s also now on hold.
Note some images were taken prior to the social distancing guidance.