Welcome to the second week in our new blog series, catching up with runners as we navigate this weird time in the UK. With no races on the calendar for the foreseeable and a need to retain social distancing measures (ruling out group runs, parkrun and club training), things are a little different for runners right now. Find out how two more runners are getting on.
At first when we went into lockdown I panicked. How would I be able to keep up my fitness while shielding? I was used to running four times a week. I started coming up with different ideas. My first was to get an indoor exercise bike. I did my best at putting it together, but I’m not the greatest at DIY. As soon as I started using it, it gradually started falling apart.
I started brainstorming different ideas and thought,’What about trying to run inside my flat?’ I started re-arranging the furniture in my living room and managed to create a 5.2-metre space. My idea was to run back and forth across the room. However, when I completed my first run, I soon learnt that I would need to build up my distance gradually – running inside was very different. I started running 3 miles each session, but still needed to stop every mile. I found it harder to get the motivation to run, with no races to train for.
I decided to set myself a target of running 100 miles inside during lockdown – this gave me the motivation I needed. Over the last few weeks, I have started increasing my long weekend runs by an extra mile a week. This weekend I completed a 10-mile indoor run bringing me to 90/100 miles. I can now run 8 miles without stopping, and my boyfriend helps by holding out cups of water, just to give me that race feeling!
Since the start of lockdown I’ve been on a little bit of a running rollercoaster, with things impacting me that I would never have considered.
Generally, I have an event or two in my running calendar, maybe eight per year. I enjoy the atmosphere of events and particularly the social atmosphere at Frolics (a White Star Running 12-hour event), seeing familiar happy faces and having a good time out on the trails. Racing in itself isn’t my favourite thing about running, but I do seem to need it on the horizon to keep me honest. It gets me out doing what I enjoy more, which is just exploring the trails with a friend.
Race cancellations and expectation of further race cancellations took away this carrot to get out. I don’t generally suffer from mental health issues, but I do like to have a rough plan of how things are going to pan out. Lockdown and the mixed messages given about what was both permissible and in the spirt of the regulation caused me to feel quite anxious.
As everyone was feeling their way through what they could and should be doing, they were coming up with quite different interpretations. Seeing other people doing long runs on Strava, and some race companies and individuals encouraging people to do more than I felt that was right, also added to my feelings of anxiety. I got down to only doing 2 miles in one week from a normal average of 25 to 40. Working, home schooling and parenting also merged into a constant feeling that I wasn’t doing enough for any aspect of life.
To resolve this I moved my Strava account to private so I wouldn’t feel like I was being judged. I stopped looking at other people’s activities. I muted some social media feeds, left some groups completely and ignored others. I then took stock and have tried to find other targets to keep me motivated: long-distance footpaths are interesting and a longer-term target. Short term, running clubs that I’m involved with have organised daily segment competitions, virtual team relays and picture challenges. I agreed with a friend to run at a similar time and then check so we were both held accountable. All of these things help and I have got some of my mojo back and am getting out a fair few times a week now.
I’m enjoying the freedom of the trails around the Cranbourne Chase; the wide open sky, stunning sunsets, bats, hares and birds accompany me through the spring flowers. Next week I intend to push for my biggest single week of running with a 50-mile virtual, all hopefully building towards the Stour Valley Way in the autumn.
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