April 2020 Run notes - Lockdown, miles and PBs

April 2020. The month started with Kilian Jornet announcing his retirement from trail running to focus on fishing. I’d be more than happy to step up and take his place, but to quote the Easter story, ‘the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak’. I take about twice as long to get up a hill! Luckily for the running world it was an April fool, during a week otherwise devoid of much to laugh at.

The whole of April has been lockdown, which has been a very different experience for everyone. Something I’m learning this month is not to apologise or feel guilt for finding good things at the moment. It’s easy when there’s so much pain in the world to feel bad over things that bring us joy.

Lockdown has been good for me in many ways. The rhythm of life feels much more sustainable. I work, I exercise, I rest. Saturdays are spacious and full of down time. I’m not spending my time rushing to be anywhere, but rather just learning to be.

As an introvert not feeling the constant pressure to be in extrovert driven environments has been great for my mental health. I’ve found that a lot of the stress I’d thought was part of me is actually a result of the society we live in. We idolise busy, obsess over productivity, and behave as though relationships are best measured in number rather than quality.

There’s something beautiful about taking our time more. If we could combine that with having the ability to see each other without the threat of transmitting a deadly disease, we could be on to a winner. I’d love to think that society might somewhere in all this learn to live life at a more sustainable pace.

There’s something beautiful about taking our time more… I’d love to think that society might somewhere in all this learn to live life at a more sustainable pace.

Anyway, alongside that, this has been a great month for running. I finished April having ran 303km, my highest monthly total yet. I ran my best marathon effort yet, socially distancing as part of the iRunFar #OperationInspiration challenge. And then over the past couple of weeks I’ve ran personal bests for both the 5k and 10k distances.

We’ve been lucky in the UK in that our lockdown has allowed us to still exercise outdoors. I know that a lot of countries haven’t had that privilege. I decided early on that as long as I could, I would try to continue training throughout. I’ve adapted a little as races have been cancelled, but kept overall distance high.

We’ve been lucky in the UK in that our lockdown has allowed us to still exercise outdoors.

My current plan is to keep doing 70-80km a week but to settle into a routine where my regular long run is 24km rather than 32km. I’ll sometimes go longer to keep my fitness up but won’t build the distances consistently again until we know when racing might return.

The shorter long run should mean I recover quicker over Sunday, which is either a rest day or a very easy jog day. During the week I’m mixing in some running at max effort, usually as part of a virtual time trial race with the Heaton Harriers.

Alongside this I’ve decided to start adding specific hill training. I’m very conscious that being unable to get out to the hills has a negative effect. At the moment I plan to do a hill session every couple of weeks with a good number of reps on a steep hill near me. I’m making it feel more engaging by setting the amount of vert for the session based on the elevation of some of my favourite hills, an idea I pinched from someone at the club.

I’ve also started doing Performance Pilates with PhysioHaus. I love PhysioHaus, they keep me in one piece and help keep my muscles functioning inspite of regular attempts on my behalf to ruin them. They’ve started offering Performance Pilates online specifically aimed at runners, cyclists and triathletes.

I’ve also started doing Performance Pilates with PhysioHaus… specifically aimed at runners, cyclists and triathletes.

Given I almost never do core work, it’s definitely something I needed to take up. It’s a really good way to start the day and to work some muscles I don’t regularly work. The big advantage over pre-recorded classes is that the nature of it being live and with a group makes you feel accountable to do the whole session. I always found it far too wasy to turn off youtube type sessions when they got hard! If you want to try it go to their book online page and select ‘group sessions’.

I’m hoping that this combination of training can help me to keep pushing myself at the moment, and keep building endurance and speed for the day we’re finally allowed back into the mountains and fells.