Well March has been sucky hasn’t it? If anyone whined about races being cancelled in February due to the weather they’d be in for a shock as pretty much everything was cancelled in March as Coronavirus gradually spread across Europe and went from ‘that virus in China’ to ‘oh shit people are dying and the NHS is struggling under the pressure’ which is pretty much the thought process Boris had as well. Not being a medical expert and this being a running blog I’ll focus on the training and running rather than deadly viral pandemics. For me running although ultimately pointless (especially with all races cancelled) has helped give some structure and normality to an otherwise frightening and stressful time.
February I failed to get my sports massage from Rudi at The Treatment Lab due to poor diary management on my side and being too busy. I had one booked for March but in a fit of ‘my races are cancelled I’m gonna sulk like a baby‘ I dropped out and now feel tight and stiff. Lesson learnt there….
1st – 20 mile long run. Nobody else up for it so just me with some podcasts. Route changed on the fly due to floods (remember when wet feet was the worse thing we could catch on a run?) and roadworks. 2h50m for 20 miles then off to rugby training with the boy on heavy legs. Was nice just to run and listen to podcasts, my preferred selection of which can be found HERE.
Week 9 done, 46 miles of paddling.
2nd – 4 miles recovery with dog. No fox poo so a good Monday.
3rd – 5 miles, too late to run with either club, so a late solo attempt. Felt good to get some pace along the dark streets.
4th – Despite legs feeling awful from having done speed work only 8 hours before, and with a head full of snot I accidentally ran the fastest of the 9 mile Bow Brickhill loops since May 2019 and the ultras killed my legs. Training is working. Wahey!!
5th – 3×2 miles. Mixed it up with the Lakeside club run. Went well and encouraged by clubmates I pushed and gradually got faster on each interval. Another positive session. “I’m going to smash London” was my thought. Oh how funny in hindsight.
6th – Rest Day.
7th – Should have been a 5 on Saturday and a 18 on Sunday. Didn’t want to face a long run on Birthday (Sunday) so did it all on Saturday. 18 mile long run in morning, then off to football, followed by 6 mile run in evening as part of the Trails Tales and Ales run talk I did with Big Bear Events. Was great to chat running and hopefully encourage some people to make the jump to ultras. If I can manage it then truly anyone can.
8th – My Birthday. Breakfast made by daughter, then a footie tournament for the boy at the MK Dons training ground before pizza and movie night with the boy whilst wife and daughter at another family party in London. Nice not to have to worry about running.
Week 10 done, 51 miles
9th – 4 mile recovery run and dog rolled in fox poo. AGAIN. Fecking thing.
10th – Should have been 8x400m but I was down to run lead for Lakeside with 8x3min on schedule so did that instead. Felt really good and was pushed along by Lee from the club who is making massive jumps as he trains for his first marathon. “He’s going to smash Milton Keynes” was my thought. Oh how funny in hindsight.
11th – Brickhills 9 mile 5am loop again. Continued the fast streak and managed a little faster than previous week for some good progression.
12th – 6 miles at 7:40 ahead of the HM for the weekend. I was unsure if the event would happen with the impending Coronavirus but indications were positive.
13th – Rest Day. And the day the UK running scene finally made it’s move. UK events seemed to be playing chicken, waiting to see who moved first. In absence of any direction or guidance from the government which was following a Herd Immunity approach, London marathon finally broke ranks and delayed until October. Within the space of a few hours Manchester, Brighton and a host of smaller events all followed Paris and Boston from earlier in the week, and Tokyo from earlier in the month. The Autumn race calendar suddenly stacked up.
Like most runners I expected London to delay but hoped it wouldn’t happen. All the training seemed a little pointless. I was down for Milton Keynes marathon the following week but as a pacer so even if it went ahead I wouldn’t have the opportunity to race it. Not sure the 4hr runners would appreciate being taken off at 3h10 pace.
In more happy news, my interview on The Running Hub podcast was launched. First time on a podcast and understandably nervous but having plucked up courage to listen after a few weeks I’m not too bad.
14th – Plan had a gentle parkrun before trying a fast HM in training for a marathon that wasn’t happening anymore. Pah. Most other European countries had cancelled their parkruns so this felt like it could be the last parkrun for a while. Others were restricting gatherings of more than 500 people but nothing yet in UK. Numbers for Milton Keynes parkrun were a little down either due to people tapering for next day or staying away. I chatted to another runner also coached by Clean Coach Katie and had a very sociable run, finished around 27 min. As it turns out parkrun and sociable running was soon to be in short supply.
15th – MK Festival of Running. After a will they/won’t they couple of days this went ahead. The announcers on the tannoy reminded everyone this could be the last race for a while. Goal was somewhere around 1h32 and managed to come in 1h33 after setting off a bit too fast. Aimed to keep behind the 1h30 pacer but he was a bit quick for the first few miles and so was I. Good to be getting back towards pre-injury form. Unsure what I’ll use the training for though…
Week 11 done, 49 miles
16th – Recovery run so another gentle 30 mins with the dog. This was the start of the week leading into the Twin Lakes 20 mile race on the Sunday. By midday on Monday this was cancelled as the virus spread and Boris rejected his ‘Herd Immunity’ approach and went for stricter advice. Stay home if at risk or elderly, stay home if you feel unwell. This was still lagging behind other EU countries with various stages of lockdown imposed but so was the current infection rate.
17th – Was meant to be a 20 min effort sandwiched between 20 min warmup and cooldown. Instead swapped for a 10k loop in the woods with mates and the dog, and a semi-tempo in the evening.
18th – Bow Brickhills 9 mile again. Felt fast but comfortable. Turns out it was just comfortable and I was slow. Pah. Just the encouragement you need in the face of all races being cancelled.
19th – Work from home day as people were gradually asked to socially distance. That will be the word of the year. A morning weights class, an evening remote Core Class with Katie over Zoom, aided by the dog. Turns out Zoom was the future as before the month was out it was to be the main way of communicating with everyone. Nipped out for a gentle 6 miler with a couple of mates after, all keeping the recommended distance as outdoor small group exercise was still encouraged. Not for long as it seems.
20th – Having missed the Friday dog run in the woods all year whilst training it was good to get back to it. 4 adults spread out across the trails with 5 dogs going mental between and a steady 6 miles. Always a perfect start to a Friday, getting back in time for breakfast with a tired dog and that warm post-exercise glow. Later that day Gary helps me pick up a treadmill. The wife had pointed out I am unbearable when I don’t run so a treadmill in case of lockdown is an insurance policy on her not murdering me in my sleep. For most of the UK it’s also the day the schools close for an indefinite period. Home schooling will be the norm unless you’re a key worker. Both Cloe and I fall into that category (just) but feel we’d be taking the piss to send them to school whilst we both work largely from home.
21st – Should have been steady short run on Saturday, then a hard effort at the Twin Lakes 20 on Sunday, now cancelled. With all football and rugby matches for the boy also cancelled for foreseeable future due to the virus for once I had no other commitments to rush back for so could have done a leisurely 20 instead. Hell I could have run all day. It all seemed a bit pointless though so a steady 11 miles with dog was the end result.
22nd – The most muted Mother’s Day ever as everyone did it over the phone or skype. Each day the government advice had become slowly more restrictive and an eventual lockdown seemed inevitable. With a lot of peoples mums being in the ‘at risk’ group many made do with virtual visits for the day. Those not at risk were still allowed out so it’s football with Billy and a dog walk, keeping the separation from others. Then drop off supplies to my Mum and run away after ringing the bell. Yep Coronavirus means playing ‘knock down ginger’ on your own mum. No running as Mother’s Day.
Week 12 done, also 49 miles
23rd – McDonalds and Nandos announced this would be the last day of trading for a while as they closed for the virus. UberEats delivered a McDonalds breakfast one last time. Probably for the best all marathons are cancelled as I love a pre-race McMuffin. Gary asks if I’m free for a run but I’m stuck on concalls until late. Turns out it would have been the last social run for a while as that evening Boris announces new semi-Lockdown measures in his 8pm bulletin as people can’t follow simple rules on keeping your distance and not having impromptu mass gatherings.
You can run/walk/cycle once a day with members of own household only, nobody else. I joke that all runners have a couple of hours to move into a shared house with their clubmates before lockdown. Sub 3hr marathon or seeing your family? How bad do you want it? Not much in my case as I sit on sofa eating crisps and don’t run as it all feels a bit pointless.
Up & Running also close their stores to protect customers and staff but continue to trade online. Sports Direct tried to argue it’s an essential store and to continue to trade in shops. Remember that approach to profits over safety next time you’re buying sportswear.
24th – My update call with Clean Coach Katie. It’s a good job she’s generally cheery as she must have had a week of client calls with miserable runners. Like me. Eeyore. After listing what races I’d now had cancelled it went mostly along lines of “new goals? dunno, it’s all pointless now ain’t it and can only run on your own so can’t even do easy runs with mates, I’m taking up knitting”. She’s kindly offered to continue to coach me to the new London date, so stuck with my miserable approach for many more months.
Felt generally better after and went for a 1hr dog run. Really impressed with how all other runners, walkers, dog walkers moved apart from each other and we all mutually gave each other far more than the recommended 2m of space. Then the cyclists came past and let themselves down. Not a single one gave more than a metre as they whizzed past, desperately hugging the tarmac as their carbon fibre full suspension bikes couldn’t possibly handle a few feet of flat and dry grass.
25th – I’ve run the same 9 mile loop with mates pretty much every Wednesday for 5+ years. We always go at 5am. Today due to social distancing we all ran, but solo and spread between 5am and 6:15am. Didn’t see each other but nice to know we’re out there somewhere which helped. Long day follows so miss the online core class.
After shops being ransacked by panic buying idiots now would be a really bad time for the fridge freezer to break, spoiling what little food you have. So it does. Bugger. Kids being off means a lot of time doing creative stuff and I find cartoon tutorials oddly relaxing….
UK Athletics later announce a ban on all races and group training sessions until end of May 2020. So another load of races fall away across the calendar. Less whinging this time as people are coming to terms with the virus being more important than the desire to run an arbitrary distance in a given time in pursuit of a metal trinket.
26th – Ridiculously long day on site again. Roads are quiet for journey to Somerset and back though. Manage to squeeze in a slow 30min with dog before bed.
27th – Rest day so just a bit of the Joe Wicks PE session. Looking back in years to come this will seem weird, but a personal trainer live streaming a fitness class is one of the most watched streams on Youtube with figures well over a million. There’s some TV programmes that struggle to break that.
28th – General advice seems to be that you should take your one bit of exercise a day from home where possible so doggie and I run for the hills (and woods) and complete 14 miles. It’s the sort of relaxed scenic run that makes you remember why you do it in the first place.
Weekly 13 done, 38 miles, yeah I couldn’t be arsed much!
30th – Light evenings mean we can go out for a long run again, another 14 mile loop to the woods with hound. Again not following the programme much but need to blow the cobwebs away before getting back to it.
31st – Final day of March. Most have spent longer working from home than ever imagined, or their employers ever thought possible. It’s surprising how IT systems that simply won’t allow home working can suddenly do so when it suits certain companies. I go out with doggie for a 5 mile progressive run as I get back on the programme.
March miles – 225. So far for 2020 the monthly has been 178, 191, and now 225, building nicely ready to peak for London in April, or October.