Locked down

What a rollercoaster this pandemic continues to be.

After a grim old 2020, I’ve spent most of this year trying to be generally quite optimistic about things, even back in January when we were in the depths of lockdown #3 and the case numbers were through the roof. I kept telling myself (and others) that better times are hopefully on the way, and so it appeared to be. Gradually, those horrible numbers dropped, the weather improved, things began tentatively opening up. Being able to see friends and family outdoors again, including my little nephew who was only four months old when I last saw him pre-pandemic. A pint of cask ale for the first time in 2021. I was even looking at my race calendar for the year (which is only one race as it stands, but still) and thinking there might actually be a chance of it going ahead. And then, right at the peak of my optimism as I received my first pint of Pfizer last week, a reminder that actually we still have a way to go.

Just like that, it was all back to square one. Plans for the rest of the weekend and my day off work cancelled, another full week of working from home ahead of me. And unlike the national lockdowns we’ve all lived through on and off since last March, an extra kick in the nuts as my own personal quarantine meant I was unable to even do one of the few things which helped me cope with all the shit over past year or so: go for a run. Even leaving the house for exercise is forbidden and as such I’ve been indoors now since around 7pm Saturday evening, except for taking the rubbish out and cutting my grass. Fun and games, I’m sure you’ll all agree.

It was a sudden, sharp shock though and took a bit of getting over at first. It still amazes me that going for a run outdoors is considered a risk, considering my wife can still go to work, the shops, the pub or anything, but them’s the rules I guess. It didn’t make it any easier to deal with though, mentally. Running has been a part of my life now for years of course, but especially so over the last 18 months. Writing this last year I mentioned how I’d transitioned to running six days a week and how much it had helped my physical and mental wellbeing, even if it was just getting out for a 20 minute blast round my local estate. It started off in January as just a new way of training for a (cancelled) marathon, by the middle of the year it was my new normal.

Even after finishing my marathon in October, after a couple of days rest it was back to it. Weeks were rarely less than 40 miles long, most months often over 200. And it wasn’t just weekday runs on my lunch break or whatever (one of the positives of working from home for long periods of the year). Come the end of the year I’d (completely unintentionally) hit every single Saturday and all but one Sunday, which would have been absolutely unheard of a few years ago when weekends were for reserved solely for partying and recovering from partying.

I say unintentionally as I hadn’t been trying to achieve anything like of the sort (I mean, who would, right?), and to be honest hadn’t even realised it was the case until I got an email from Runkeeper at the start of this year saying Saturdays were my most active day of 2020. Surely some mistake? Saturdays are about laying in bed for ages, trying to get over Friday excesses, before laying on the sofa for ages, watching crap television and then ordering a takeaway. But, alas it was indeed somehow true as I looked back and realised I hadn’t missed Saturday since Christmas 2019.

I was pretty amazed at that, and – slightly more intentionally, once I’d realised – that streak continued well into this year and in fact all the way up until last weekend anyway. My 10-miler on Saturday morning will prove to be the end of the streak, 73 and out. Short of Sir Captain Tom-ing it up and down my drive – which being gravel isn’t the least bit appealing, not to mention the weird looks I’ll be getting from my neighbours – I won’t be going for a run tomorrow. The Saturday streak is about to come to an end.

Without my usual outlet anyway, it’s been a bit of an odd few days. On Saturday, pre-isolation, my step count was just under 20k. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were 1,693, 1,677, 1,665 and 1,686 respectively, which on reflection is really fucking odd how consistent I am. A creature of habit and no mistake, it would seem.

It’s not been all bad though I guess. Having the Saturday streak forcibly ended is probably a monkey off my back let’s be honest. And I’ve used the time off to do a bit of core stuff, a bit of yoga, a bit of general stretching to try and sort any niggles before marathon training starts in earnest again next month. I’ve still been able to keep fairly active, nevertheless it’s still pretty mad how quickly my training load (whatever that is) has dropped off a cliff so rapidly.

The seven days are nearly over now anyway and so come Sunday, it’ll be real nice to lace up one of my favourite pairs of running shoes and head out for the first time in over a week. I never thought I’d be so glad to see the A34 but then I guess that’s how it goes sometimes living through a global pandemic. You have to cherish everything at the time and make the most of it, because you literally never know what’s around the corner to come and take it all away from you. Even if only for a week on this occasion, but still. A change is as good as a rest they say though, and I guess, in this case, actually a rest has made a rather nice change.

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