Well, this year didn’t quite go as planned did it? Like so many of us, I started this year fresh with hopes and plans, and a calendar packed full of races to look forward to. Well, we all know what happened next! It’s been a year full of challenges and frustrations, of readjusting mindsets and refocusing on different priorities. Now, on the last day of 2020, I’m reflecting on some of my fitness-based positive memories of the year, and looking forward to 2021 with a tiny glimmer of hope!
Appreciating running with friends
Before this year, I definitely took running with friends for granted. Any given Saturday, you would find me at parkrun, surrounded by lovely friends and good company. Tuesday nights too, I would run with friends in the Our Parks running club around the streets of Walthamstow. It felt a real blow to have this taken away, and really contributed to the sense of isolation that we were all feeling. As soon as we were allowed, I made sure to organise some runs with friends, which made a huge difference to my mental wellbeing. In what at times seemed like a never ending cycle of homeschooling and Teams work meetings, getting out for a run and chat with a friend was often the highlight of my week! Thankyou to all of you xx
Feeling together whilst running apart
Losing parkrun especially felt like a huge blow to the running community, so it was particularly heartwarming to see how people pulled together to keep the spirit of parkrun alive. The wonderful With Me Now parkrun podcast team kept us entertained every week and we logged our (not) parkruns on the virtual leaderboard. Closer to home, Walthamstow parkrun made a beautiful rainbow wave as we ran in colour co-ordinating tops for seven weeks (10 points if you can spot me in the montage photo!). And the Walthamstow Hare, a local runner, set us Strava segment challenges to run each week, sending us out to discover new routes through the forest and marshes. We watched with smiles on our faces as the first parkruns began to return in New Zealand and Australia, and planned for the day we would run together again.
Running a sub-2 half marathon!
This one had been a personal goal of mine for some time. At the Big Half way back on the 1st March (gosh – doesn’t that feel a lifetime ago!) I pulled out all the stops to slash 17 minutes off my half-marathon PB, finishing in 2hrs and 17 seconds! I really couldn’t have gone any faster than that on the day, but being left so tantalisingly close to running sub-2 hours made this a target I was desperate to beat. Unfortunately, things went downhill rapidly from there. My scheduled spring half-marathons were swiftly cancelled, and I was convinced that I would never achieve my goal just running by myself without the race-day environment. After some hard work and training, and with no races on the horizon, I set out on my second shot at sub-2, running by myself along the Lea Valley canal one Sunday. However, this attempt was even worse than the first, as a nasty trip at the 10-mile mark left me with a broken elbow and busted knee that put me out of action for the next month!
Finally, in December I was ready to try one more time. I signed myself up to the Comrades Mr Price Foundation Challenge, to support a great charity that aims to break the cycle of poverty for young people in South Africa. Feeling lighter and stronger, and full of resolve, I took to the canal paths one more time, making sure to leap over the broken pavement that had been my undoing in the summer. With one eye on my watch, I could see that I was inside my target time and pushed on to finish in 1hr 57min. Mission accomplished as far as I am concerned, although it would definitely be nice to get this time in an official chip-timed race next year!
This Autumn I took on a new fitness challenge, for once something not running related! The Six Pack Revolution came along at exactly the right time for me, and the combination of strength work core stability and healthy diet was just what I needed to get me feeling fitter and stronger than ever. You can read all the details of my 75-day plan here, but I’m delighted with the results and feeling a lot more body confident now my wobbly tummy has been greatly reduced! I’m sure I will see the benefit in my running training going forward too.
But of course the main thing to be grateful for at the moment is finishing 2020 with all my family and loved ones still healthy and safe. Definitely something I will no longer take for granted.
So what for 2021? Well of course I’d love to get back to races, to parkrun especially, and maybe ticking off another World Major Marathon if I can. But I’m going to adopt a very much wait-and-see attitude, grabbing opportunities when they arise but not putting to much hope into longer term plans just in case! One thing you can be sure of, is that I will keep working on improving myself, staying healthy and strong for me and my family.
Wishing you all a happy and healthy New Year! lots of love x
Just read your page. Brilliant work Gail. I’m in awe and wow so hot too 🙂
Do you know whether the parkrun challenges extension is still available. I seem to have problems accessing mine