Lockdown turned Amy into a Runner
There was lots of talk about how productive some people managed to be during lockdown. People wrote novels, learned Spanish, grew organic vegetables, took up the bassoon… I was definitely not one of those people. Not at first anyway. I spent the first couple of months feeling stressed and anxious. Either not sleeping at all or having mad anxiety dreams. Drinking a beer or two every single day (quite the commitment, I’m sure you’ll agree). Eating ALL THE FOOD. The thing is, when the virus really started to get going in the UK, I saw all my work and financial security disappear down the drain. Many people had way worse circumstances than us –my family have stayed healthy so far, and for that I am truly grateful. But I make most of my living as a self-employed musician and so does my husband. We have two children to provide for, and almost all of our work vanished overnight.
Alongside our financial worries, we suddenly had the joys of home schooling to navigate, along with the disappointment of my eldest son leaving Y6 in March without all the end-of-primary-school fun (although he was quite please SATS were cancelled…) and losing our family holiday we’d been so looking forward to. It took a while to get our heads around things, and my health and weight didn’t do so well during this time. My regular bootcamp group carried on via Zoom, but I was not the most committed member… I mean, I was there sometimes, but I think the best way to describe my efforts would be “half-arsed”.
Fast forward to my 41st birthday at the end of May, and I was feeling fat and miserable. Something needed to be done. The 1st June fell on a Monday, and we all know that the very best health kicks start on Mondays. My whole life had been feeling like it was out of my control, but the one thing I could control was taking care of my health and wellbeing. I looked up the “Couch to 5K” training programme. I planned my first week of healthy meals. (Not rabbit food, obviously. A girl’s gotta eat.) I renewed my commitment to my bootcamp gang. I set up a new fitness Instagram @fatnesstofitness2020 in order to keep track of my food and exercise, and make myself accountable to whoever wanted to follow my journey. And off I went.
I decided to run early in the morning every weekday and take one of the kids with me. They were really up for it, especially in the first few weeks before the programme got a bit more challenging! Sometimes they’d scoot or cycle, but they loved it. It was a good chance for us to chat about how we were feeling. We visited the lake in the park every day, watching the goslings growing and chatting to the ducks. It was great. The weather was on our side too, which really helped. Pre-7am is my favourite time to run; it’s so peaceful and in the summer, I prefer to run before the heat of the sun gets too much.
Within a few weeks (mid-July), I had finished the programme and found my confidence. I still hadn’t run 5k, but I’d run solidly for 30 minutes, and I felt amazing. I’d also found the Badass Mother Runners group on Facebook, and found the support and advice on there so helpful.
THAT NETWORK OF WOMEN IS THE BEST, AND HAS REALLY MADE ME SEE MYSELF AS AN ACTUAL RUNNER.
I’d done bits of running previously (never with any regularity) and never felt able to call myself a runner. It seemed like something other, more serious people did. My husband is a marathon runner and is in a club, and all that seemed so intimidating to me. The club runners are such a lovely bunch of people of course – they’re just so incredible at what they do, but I’ve always felt like a sloth by comparison. Anyway, after taking the mick out of the husband for years about all the “kudos” notifications popping up on the iPad from his Strava nerd pals, I have now become a full on Strava nerd myself - and I’m bloody proud of it. After graduating from the C25K programme, I started regularly running 5k, with the aim of getting a sub-30 time one day. The husband has been a great support, pacing me to a PB of 32 mins 19 seconds very recently (along with the kids on bikes as my crew). He’s also given good advice about how best to train in order to improve my time, so I’ve tried hill sprints, intervals and longer runs. I ran 11k last week – the longest run of my life!
Once I’d decided I was “a runner”, I bought my first proper running vest from BAMR – a bold move for someone who has always been shy about being seen ‘slothing’ around the park. I’d been hiding myself in baggy cotton t-shirts, but it was so impractical and sweaty.
My first run in my bright pink BADASS vest felt triumphant. I was finally realising who I was: a runner. So here I am. Two and a half months in. Two stone and three and a half pounds lighter (the half a pound is important) and feeling like a totally different person in so many ways.
LIFE IS STILL UPSIDE DOWN AND THE FUTURE STILL FEELS VERY UNCERTAIN, BUT I’M FAR MORE ABLE TO COPE WITH IT NOW. I’M STRONGER BOTH PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY. AND MOST OF ALL, I’M A BADASS.