2021…are we nearly there yet?

This blog post would usually be my annual round-up. But what can I say about 2020?

Well, let’s be honest, not many good things. It has felt like very, very hard work, even without races to train for. All of my pre-planned (and already paid for) races were cancelled.

In 2020, I had planned to take part in the Bristol 10k, the 51fiver (an Olympic distance triathlon) and the Great North Run (half marathon). As you know, these and almost everything generally, were cancelled.

I did complete the Bristol 10k virtually with my youngest daughter (which was brilliant fun and I gave her the medal we were sent afterwards) and then, as life sort of looked like it might be getting back to normal in August (oh how we laugh thinking about that now) I squeezed in 2 sprint triathlons. It felt good to be competing and it was good to get a couple of medals in an otherwise fruitless year.

When the pools were open, I was swimming twice a week and was also continuing with my weights and strength work. Thanks to my spin bike, I was still able to cycle regularly and my eldest daughter became quite competitive with me using the peloton spin classes on the peloton app. There are many different types of classes on there and I must confess that since we were locked down for a second time, I have chosen ones that made me smile rather than offer a specific training plan. The Bon Jovi and the Beyonce rides were absolutely brilliant – spinning, singing, headbanging and sometimes shimmying along which made me happy, laugh and kept the endorphins were flowing. I’m not sure how useful these were for “pure triathlon training” (although there are definitely classes on the app that would help with that), but without a race to train for, why worry? I needed to sweat and smile and these classes ticked the boxes. As usual, I went with the mantra of anything is better than nothing.

But let’s talk about running this year. I have ebbed and flowed with it but it has been largely consistent during the second half of the year. Following my completion of the Joe Wicks 90 day plan, I gave myself the target of getting my 5k time down and although I have succeeded in getting faster again, I haven’t beaten my PB….yet.

My eldest daughter started running quite seriously in the second lockdown (she’s a hockey player and hockey was cancelled) and we both signed up for the Kelston 10k on the 3 January 2021. This has since been cancelled. She followed a plan and recently ran a sub 30 minute 5k herself. She regularly takes our dog out for a run in the evening and will definitely run a 10k next year as a race. She is very keen to pace me for a 5k PB and so I’m going to try once more to beat my time before the end of the year.

I’ve done lots of different types of running this year and I am happy to report that I seem to have fallen back in love with it again. I love running with the dog in the mud (although I am accident prone and have fallen more than once) and this has enabled me to still see my friends whilst the second lockdown was on. Twin Mum has regularly run with me and Bruce since September and Team G, who has a withdrawn guide dog, has shown me lots of new places to take the dogs running. These have been such joyful experiences. I ran with Team G a couple of weeks ago and Bruce was off the lead for a lot of it. He is absolutely built to run and looks so powerful as he strides through the countryside. I’ve run a couple of 10ks with him in recent weeks and I’m sure he could do double this without breaking a sweat. It’s nice to run with company and this year it’s been the best way to stay in touch with friends – outside!

When the children returned to school in September, hockey was back. Training is 90 minutes and so it’s a perfect running window of opportunity. A lady I know through TMR (Hockey Mum), was keen to run and so Thursday night running became a thing. With nothing to train for and everything to gain mentally from being in the fresh air, we started trundling together. As Hockey Mum hadn’t run for a couple of months, we started running at 3/1 intervals. This is undoubtedly my favourite interval as it’s long enough that you feel like you are running but also, short enough that it is easy to conduct a conversation. We have run together, once a week (with one exception) every week since hockey resumed in September. During lockdown 2, we still met up for our Thursday evening trundle even though hockey was cancelled and it has been so very, very enjoyable.  Last weekend we ran an offroad 10k VERY MUDDY trail, which her husband devised for us and it was brilliant. It was supposed to be 10k but it was actually 13k (we got a bit lost). This was the furthest that Hockey Mum had ever run and the furthest that I had run in well over a year and it was a fitting end to our running year. Thank you to her husband – it really was brilliant. We ran the whole distance using the 3/1 method.

I think it’s important to talk about this for a moment. Running takes many forms and disguises. There is of course the race, the pb, the endurance event, but there is also, and probably most importantly, the running for pleasure. In a year, where many things have felt so mentally hard, if I had not agreed with myself before setting off, that I would allow myself to run/walk, 3/1, I am certain that more often that not, I would never have left the house and so no running would have taken place at all.  The couch to 5k programme uses the run/walk technique to get you to a place where you can run without walking. This is of course excellent if this is what you want to do. For me, I enjoy run/walking and interestingly, often my split times are faster than when I just run so who really knows. All I can tell you is that, at the moment, run/walking is what I’m doing more than I’m not and if the thought of running scares you, try the run/walk method. I have an Olympic triathlon next year and I am already considering run/walking the final 10k – and I bet the time won’t be much different than if I decide to run the whole 10k. It might even be faster.

Give it some thought and maybe give it a try?

The Olympic Triathlon from 2020 has been rescheduled for May next year – hopefully it will happen (although who knows?) but I have decided that I will train towards it regardless.

My training plan starts on the 4 January and so I will be writing more regular blogs next year as I talk you through what should be happening according to my training plan, and then the reality of what really IS happening.

Thanks for sticking with me this year. Merry Christmas to you and your family. Hug them tight.

I wish you all a Happy New Year.