Life has a way of slapping you in the face just as you feel you are getting somewhere and this has always been my experience with running. I always find it hard, even after 6 years, but just when I’m getting somewhere and beginning to feel (dare I say it) strong, I fall down a pothole 2 days before a half marathon or twist my ankle.
I had carefully procured a place for Cardiff Half for the end of March and was beginning to feel good about it. Would this be the half marathon where I would be fit and run a proper race?
ENTER COVID…….and so errrrrr no.
I’ve had a good run (if you’ll pardon the pun) avoiding covid so far, but it’s a pandemic after all and so eventually my luck ran out. Myself and my eldest daughter tested positive first, followed by my youngest daughter two days later and then 5 days later my husband came down with it too. This meant, for the main part, I was isolating with teenagers. So if anyone has any questions about Tom Holland or Harry Styles, I can definitely help you. I’m also quite good at TikTok dances now and we did watch quite a lot of TV, paint our nails, do facepacks and tested new hairstyles quite a lot, but aside from that (which was actually quite joyful), the covid itself was horrible. I have asthma, I’m also triple jabbed and apparently Omicrom is less severe than previous strains, but I was quite poorly. My temperature spiked up and down and my breathing was awful. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind at all that had I caught covid before being jabbed that I would have almost certainly ended up in hospital.
Even after I finally tested negative, I was still feeling awful and not well. The exhaustion was brutal and I was napping constantly. My body felt ravaged. Mentally I was struggling too as I was also feeling very sad and anxious about the Cardiff Half.
The other thing that had happened whilst I had covid was that my left leg had locked up. It was painful and walking was not easy. Running was absolutely not possible at all and so I could feel desperation start to swallow me up. I had to make a decision and this is where M came in.
I am programmed to want to complete everything I enter. I sign up, I train and then do the race but Cardiff Half is not really what I’m training for this year. Yes 2 out of the 3 triathlons I’m doing have a half marathon at the end but I’m training for the triathlons, not the half marathon. So, the decision was made to not run the Half meaning that my first race of the year is now an Olympic distance triathlon mid May (I am also signed up for the Tour de Bristol which is a 100k bike ride in April, but this is not a race).
Deciding not to run Cardiff immediately took all the pressure away. I was able to build back up after covid with gentle training and no running for a further couple of weeks to allow my chest (which was still sounding like a bag of spanners) to recover properly. It was a total gamechanger and a much better and more sensible plan.
Therefore, since having had covid the emphasis has switched firmly to cycling and I’m doing 3 bike sessions a week. A 30 minute endurance ride, an interval session and a longer ride at the weekend.
I tend to fit these in around my daughters playing hockey and do my interval session on a watt bike at the gym whilst they train. The wattbike is an excellent piece of kit, but it seems to have the most uncomfortable saddle I have ever encountered. Goodness alone knows what the “serious looking gym boys” think when I arrive in my cycling padded shorts, with a padded saddle cover and sit there watching the TV on my phone (to distract me from my pain) and diligently following my plan. Last week, I somehow seemed to get into a pretend race with one of them as each time my interval (the fast bit) kicked in for 8 minutes, he pedalled even faster on his separate, not linked to mine at all, bike…..I don’t know who won but I looked like I’d just got out of the shower when I’d finished. Somewhat annoyingly, he didn’t even seem out of breath.
The bike section of the triathlon is the longest bit and if I am to have any chance of getting round Weymouth, I need to gain as much time as possible on the bike leg, to allow me to survive the run. So intensive bike training is going to continue. Luckily it’s my favourite bit, so I don’t mind the training so much.
I’ve also managed a few outside bike rides with my friends. I cannot tell you how much joy this aspect of training gives me. I’ve cycled to and from Bath a couple of times along the cycle path with the Auditor and this week Merida and I cycled to Clevedon for cake (it was very, VERY cold).
Since covid, I have run three times. Once as a 20 minute test (it wasn’t too bad) and then on Saturday I went to Chipping Sodbury parkrun with my eldest daughter and Merida. We met M and the Auditor there too – a flat parkrun is always a good idea! Merida got first in her age group and was delighted and I somehow managed to get a PB for Chipping Sodbury. I was pleased but very shocked. I guess it shows that all the base training is helping and working. Of course, M had already finished his 5k as I came round the corner for my final lap and so he offered to run with me. That kept the mind focussed I can tell you – running with the boss?!! But I suspect if I’d run the final lap alone, that I might have walked more and so wouldn’t had got a PB. So although I felt like I was dying on that final lap and desperately wanting to walk, but my pride now allowing me to, it lead to a good result.
The “covid recovery” weeks are now over in the training plan and so now it’s back to normal. Sleep and nutrition will once again be critical but we’re now 4 weeks out from the 100k bike ride (up mountains….I’ve looked at the route and frankly, what was I thinking?) and so we need to ramp things back up again.