I think it is apparent that my running blog is going to turn more into COVID-19 survival blog over the foreseeable weeks (months?) - it is hard to focus on much else right now! The past seven days have seen the UK enter a period of 'lockdown' which has further impacted by life and running. It had to be done, and despite the challenges I now face, I am pleased the Government is taking these measures to essentially save people's lives and protect the NHS - I have friends who work at the local hospital, and they are always in my thoughts.
Lockdown rules thankfully permit daily exercise, which as I watched the Prime Minister address the nation, I have to say I was immensely relieved about. It might sound selfish to essentially be pleased to be able to run still, but it certainly helps safeguard my own mental well being in this all. The rules did outline however that exercise can only be completed with members of your household - when you live by yourself that is not a massive difference! So sadly runs with friends have now stopped, and I do miss them. The extension on my Run Club sessions being cancelled, as well as parkun bring cancelled was also announced this week - I miss these too - and my next race currently looks like it may happen in June (although I think this is still optimistic). But I can still run, and that morning escape out the house is something I am very grateful of right now.
Personally, this week has been a bit tougher - there is the obvious lack of social contact (living by yourself in all this really is rubbish!) and then there have been concerns around my work. Socially, I again have to be so extremely grateful for the network of friends I have who do keep checking in on me; it is not as fulfilling as seeing people in person, but it certainly is comforting. My work situation did for the first time in all this bring me to tears this week though. I was faced with discussion around being 'furloughed' for three months, and the notion of losing my job even temporarily felt gutting, let alone the financial implications despite the Government support on offer. Thankfully as I write this, I still have my job, although some of my colleagues have been furloughed. I worry for them, I still worry about my own small workplace, but I am going to do all I can to try and help us survive this.
Running remains key to my own personal 'survival' and I have managed a good week of 36 miles and moreover, can say I enjoyed every step.
MONDAY: shifting some furniture around in my living room I made space to complete my first home gym session following a couple of Faecbook live exercise classes from my friend 'Run Your Marks' I liked tuning in with others, it gave a small sense of being part of a group still and I also felt less ridiculous for jumping around in my living room!
TUESDAY: I had DOMs already from my home exercise classes, so opted for a steady run. The first mile I was stiff, but once I warmed up I found I was hitting low 8 min/mile paces really naturally and enjoyed a lovely 10k run.
WEDNESDAY: again I surprised myself today, heading out once more for a planned steady run, I logged 7 miles with an 8:15 min/mile average pace. I probably have some marathon training benefits in my legs still, but it is also funny what you can achieve when you do not obsess over pace all the time!
THURSDAY: as if to tease us, this week has seen some warmer Spring like weather - so in order to maximise this, I headed out a little later for my run today, enjoying the sun along the local river bank. I intended to push myself and took on the weekly planned session from my Run Club, which was a 50 minute 'out and back' run aiming to get back to the same start point, or further. I made it exactly back to the bottom of my street and was really pleased with my splits and pacing, mostly in the 7.20 min/mile region and achieving 6.6 miles in distance. I do not want to push myself too much at the moment, but a bit of hard effort still felt good.
FRIDAY: to make sure I do not over do things, I want to try keep one rest day a week still. This is tough as I also want to not feel too trapped in my house. A daily walk is permitted though - although I have to say it does not quite bring the same mental benefit to me as running!
SATURDAY: another 'fake Lincoln parkrun' mixing up the course to try and avoid the strong winds! The wind was unavoidable and where I live in Lincoln it is also hard to avoid a hill unless I just run up and down one road - and we are not at that point yet! - so whilst I found it hard to find much pace, I was pleased to spot a few other parkrun faces out (from a distance!)
SUNDAY: back to Sunday long run days and I set myself the goal of running a half marathon today - just for some purpose really! The weather was so mixed, I started in sunshine and although I had actually hid away my watch, I realised after I was running quite quickly. Then came the hail/snow, and then the wind really picked up for the latter part! I embraced it all though, just winding through the streets, which I have to say were eerily empty. I felt much more tired after my longer run than I expected - so good job I had to stay at home!
I hope the week ahead allows me to keep running, if further restrictions come into place I respect it will be for good reason, and I shall embrace my miles whist I can.
This should have been a summary of week ten of my journey to the London Marathon, but instead I find myself reflecting on what is a very strange and uncertain time for the world. No one's lives are being unaffected by the spread of the Coronavirus, and as this week progressed, I knew the chances of the London Marathon happening were fading by the second. To be honest I am glad it has now been postponed; and postponed is the key word for me. A cancellation would have been devastating for myself and others, especially those who have longed to complete the London Marathon for many years. It was also starting to become a very anxious time waiting for announcements on the race, and every time someone mentioned the virus I felt my own anxiety levels rise, waiting to hear what the latest development had been and how it would affect me. Lastly, it was also the right decision to postpone the race for the well being of all; I would have not wanted to take part under such uncertainty and under the fear of putting others at risk; it would have tainted the experience.
Friday 13th March was a tough day for the news to hit as many Spring marathons were also postponed on this day. In fact marathons seem to fall like dominoes and I found myself messaging a lot of my friends throughout the afternoon as each of our respective races announced their postponement. I had not even had the chance to see the decision had been made on the London Marathon myself, as friends and family messaged me the news. Although not the best news to be passing on to me, I was touched at people's care that they knew this would mean something to me, and that they also had a desire to check I was ok.
So am I ok? The truthful answer is yes; in marathon terms I am totally fine with the news. To be honest, how well I am coping with the fact my main focus in life has suddenly removed is a really big thing for me; had this happened maybe last year I think I would have slipped into a very sad place very quickly. It is a testament to how I have progressed personally these past months. I am sad of course about a few things, mainly being unable to share what would have been the next six weeks of training with my Run Club friends. I have honestly loved my last ten weeks of training, my own solo training runs and my recent running adventures with friends, and I do not feel my efforts have been wasted at all - I am developing as a runner but also have made a lot of happy memories along the way. I am also sad I will not be able to cheer my friends on at their own Spring marathons, and in particular we had planned to go on mass to spectate at Manchester where a large number of Run Club members were due to be running. Hopefully we may still be able to in Autumn. I am also sad for my friends, especially those who had their first ever marathon lined up - none of them are disputing the decisions which have been made, but there are still emotions they are feeling which they are entitled to have. I have tried to be there for people and offer as much positivity and words of encouragement and support. I would have needed those a while back.
So where does this leave me? I will be taking up my place for the rearranged London Marathon date in October, and I am very pleased my fellow Run Cub friend who was also due to run London can also make the new date. I was looking forward to a race weekend together, and now it has just been shifted back a few months. In terms of training, I feel like at the moment until things become clearer in the world, there will be no races and I will not seek anything either. My next booked event is a local half marathon at the start of May, followed by a 20 mile trail event which we have entered as a group from Run Club later in the month. Therefore I have a need to keep some distance within my training, but I will undoubtedly scale back a little, especially without the drive of my big goal race.
Personally, the uncertainty in the world across the next few weeks does scare me a little. Forget marathon training, but I do need to be able to run for my personal well being, and the thought of any form of 'lockdown' and being house bound is something I fear. Since Friday, I have also been instructed by my work that I must work from home for the next three weeks, and have to cancel virtually all face to face meetings and events I had planned. It was tough walking home on Friday having lost my marathon and what felt like losing my job; I love running and I love my job, so it was a double whammy almost. I also live by myself and it feels quite lonely to think of being at home for that length of time. I am being honest about how I feel with people though, and have already had offers from friends to join them for runs in the week so I can at least see and talk to some people! Its a very weird time, and I completely appreciate the need to try and protect vulnerable people in particular, but I do also want to try safeguard my own health and happiness as much as possible, especially after working so hard to feel good again.
Anyway, enough 'virus talk' - I feel I need to sign off London Marathon training (part 1!) with a bit of what I achieved this week, as I most certainly did not give up!
MONDAY: Body Pump class
TUESDAY: a tough session of 7 miles with 3 x 1.5 mile reps - a mile and a half is a long way to push the pace and it certainly asked a lot of me!
WEDNESDAY: after a very long day at work on Tuesday and a tough run, I was grateful of 'just' 5 steady miles today, although was shocked to see these averaged 8.15 min/mile and still felt comfortable.
THURSDAY: a double run day with 8 morning miles at easy pace, followed by a precise 3.6 miles later during a continuous hill based session I led at Run Club.
FRIDAY: Rest Day
SATURDAY: a very pleasing morning at Lincoln parkrun, as not only did I get to share my happy place with some of my colleagues and friends from work, but I also ran a sub 21 minute time (20:53!) and finished as first female, feeling strong and possibly running off Friday 13th's frustrations.
SUNDAY: I was due to be running Ashby 20 today with a few friends from Run Club, however it was cancelled, and I instead I found myself heading out for a solo 20 miles of my own. The organisers of Ashby 20 had set up a virtual Facebook group encouraging people to log their own 20 miles, and to be honest that was enough of a challenge and incentive for me. I could not quite motivate myself enough to push the pace like a race, but I was pleased to see that I held 8:30 min/miles quite consistently throughout. There were a few slower miles in there, which directly correlated with when my motivation started to waiver, meaning my end average pace did end up at 8:40 min/mile, but it was my commitment that impress me the most.
What a week... and I do not fully know what the future weeks will hold. I do know I am going to try and keep as positive as possible, and reach out to others if I feel I am struggling. The offer of my time and support will also be there to anyone out there too. Keep safe and keep running x
Alice's Adventures In Running Land
Read about my adventures in running land...