Training in a Pandemic
One day after my last pre-COVID race in march, all group training was forced to stop, effective immediately. I don't think anyone was expecting it to be as long term as it proved to be, so it was definitely an anticlimactic ending. For over 4 months, I had to try to continue the work without any extrinsic motivation, which to tell the truth was really tough.
Living right near the seafront in a busy family area of my city meant I realised pretty quickly the limits of training I would be able to do at 2 pm on a sunny Sunday if trying to social distance. Although not everyone seemed as bothered as others, I definitely felt some responsibility to do my bit, and a crowded promenade wasn't going to let me do this. Therefore I made the hard decision to shift all my training to nearby parks- at 7 am! Naturally, I'm not really an early bird OR a night owl- more of a constantly sleep-deprived pigeon. The 6:30 alarm to get out and get it done was often the last thing I wanted, but knowing I could train in an empty park without it looming over me for the rest of the day was motivation to at least get to the park. It's safe to say when I was home eating breakfast before my lessons started, or my brothers had even got out of bed, I felt on top of the world. Even if you're sure mornings aren't your forte, I strongly recommend giving it a go; something is liberating about seizing the day.
Switching Things Up
Running definitely isn't one of the most riveting sports at the best of times, let alone after months of solo training. After a few sessions of feeling really deflated, I talked to my coach and we decided to trial 'challenges' to give me something to work towards. One of the parks I trained in had a 600m loop, so I worked a time trial into my training once a week, and found this really gratifying to see and track my progress. As a club, we always vary where and how we train, so I kept this up with grassy hilly loops, to the fast and flat seafront. In Brighton and Hove we are really spoiled for scenery so I capitalised on this, and am happy to say I have fell in love with some new routes.
As soon as Boris let us, a friend and I started meeting to run together. The very first session I remember feeling euphoric, and the session felt so much easier. As restrictions continued to be eased, this ended up as a group of 4, although never got any bigger a somehow people were put off by the 7 am starts! By August there was some sense of normality back, as I could train in my normal group and back on the track in a 'COVID-secure' bubble. If anything, this pandemic has taught me never to take my group for granted, and I certainly am still loving every session we do together.
Although I really don't want to have to go back to solo training, a part of me knows it may be inevitable at some point over the course of the winter. What I do know is that the determination lockdown training forced on me will mean I'll me boing into it in a far stronger place not only physically, but mentally as well.