It’s been a crazy couple of months hasn’t it? For me, lockdown came just when I was ramping up all my spring training and getting ready for an enjoyably full calendar of races to look forward to. I’ve always used upcoming races as milestones to base my training around, but with the future of all remaining races this year very much up in the air, I’ve needed to reset my expectations quite a lot. I’ve put all thoughts of PB’s to one side and changed my summer goals to:
- stay fit and healthy until races return
- and have as much fun as possible along the way!
I decided to sign up for the very popular Miles for Mind challenge organised by runr. This is where you pledge to try and run a certain number of miles throughout May, with your entry fee going to support the mental health charity Mind. I signed up for 75 miles, a decent target for me that would make sure I kept getting out regularly, but without putting myself under unnecessary pressure whilst lockdown conditions/my work hours/school remained so potentially variable.
I knew I would spend most of the month running alone so I looked for a few ways of keeping my running interesting instead of just heading to my regular canal towpath route every day. I joined in with the postbox bingo challenge made popular by the parkrun fan ‘With me Now’ podcast. This is where you try and spot postboxes marked with the symbols of all the monarchs from Queen Victoria to modern times. Some are much harder to spot than others! Another day I went out to find all the street art in my local area, reminding me to pause and look up more often, and that there is still so much beauty to be found in urban running. And some days I just ran, slow and steady, finding peace on the trails, smiling to myself as I saw new baby ducklings and cygnets appear on the river and grow bigger each week.
The miles started to tick by and I began to really look forward to each run of the week. One Sunday I ran a half marathon just for fun, a sentence that the me of a few years ago would never have dreamed of saying! Freed from my daily commute, it became easy to pop out for a run before breakfast, waking me up before starting the days work or homeschooling. Our Twitter group, made up of other runners taking on the Miles for Mind challenge, became a great source of daily support and inspiration, and I loved seeing everyone spurring each other on. My 75 mile target was soon within grasp, so I decided to push on for 100 miles before the month was out.
Towards the end of the month here in England the guidelines around exercise were slightly relaxed, allowing us to meet one other person for a run. After such a long time running solo, this felt like a huge luxury! I finished off the final week of May with a few long-overdue catch ups with running friends, in what seemed like a little step back towards normality.
My final stats for the month were: 107 miles covered over 24 runs. But running for me has always been so much more than just the statistics. These are stressful times we are all living through, and now more than ever I appreciate my own good health and that of my family. At times in the past, perhaps during a difficult training cycle, running has occasionally felt like a chore. Now it seems more of a privilege that I will no longer take for granted. How lucky I am to have this little time to myself, to work through my thoughts, to appreciate what my body is capable of and run for the sheer enjoyment of running!
I hope you are all keeping well, but I know how difficult these past few months have been for many of us dealing with isolation, stresses around home life and work. If you are struggling, please reach out for support. I know that together, we can all get through this. Until we meet on a start line again, take care x