75kms in lockdown
Throughout lockdown I, like everyone else have been on a roller coaster of emotions. Initially I felt lost and useless as I shut my business in line with government guidelines. I’ve worked hard for many years to establish my private physiotherapy clinic and to see it close its doors and sit redundant was heartbreaking. I stared my Waterbottle Workout’s on FB live, which bought a sense of purpose and a bit of structure to my day. The first 3 weeks of lockdown where a bit strange as we all tried to come to terms with our new way of life. I began to run a bit more than usual and was enjoying the freedom. During the 2nd phase of the lockdown I ran every day and was feeling great. All the stresses of being at work and single handedly running a small business were lifted. I could run in the morning, rest up then run on my treadmill at the clinic in the evening. Morning runs were peaceful and a chance to reflect on life and my situation. I run off road so generally didn’t encounter many other people out and about. I knew I was lucky to be in a good position in all this crisis. Broxtowe Borough Council had provided grants for small businesses so that meant I could stop worrying about income for a few months. I actually began to enjoy my days and life settled into a strange new normal. Mark and I had raised £400 doing our Duathlon challenge but I felt I wanted to do something to help out local causes. Steve had been down to the Broxtowe Community Hub Food bank and they were reporting a big increase in the need for food parcels. Broxtowe Community Appeal were also looking to raise funds to support several local groups.
So I wondered what I could do to raise a bit of cash. I had seen lots of back garden ultras going on in lockdown but didn’t fancy running up and down my garden. At the back of my garden though is Kimberley Cricket Club and by lifting a fence panel out I could gain access to their ground. I checked to see if I would be allowed to run around the ground and was granted permission. So with it being VE day and celebrating 75 years I though 75km would be a good challenge. I had also seen a lovely medal for VE day from Virtual Runner so signed up for that.
So at 6am on Friday 8th of May I set off; very low key! on my first lap. There was no starting arch or registration. No excited crowd or nervous runners. Just me, Steve and a bleary eyed daughter waving from the attic Velux.
No fancy running kit, my faithful Altra lone peaks from Up & Running Nottingham and a smoothie fuelling me. I had calculated I would need to do about 185 laps, 15 park runs and it would probably take about around 8 hours. I set off clockwise and clocked up 30 laps. At aroud 25 laps I chuckled to myself when I noticed a big sign of support written on the wall. Hardly eagle eyed!!
I found it difficult to keep track of which lap I was on ( I don’t multi task very well!) so noted each one down on my phone. After 30 laps I suddenly realised my feet were aching, there was a big camber at the back of the ground and I was in danger of ending up with wonky legs if I didn’t change directions. So every 10 laps I swapped direction. This helped break up the monotony of running round in circles. Each lap was around 400 metres and 5 k was roughly 12.5 (ish). Steve joined me at 9am to do a 5km with me so that passed another 12.
I thought I would find the lap counting really tough but I actually quite got into it. Its quite easy to turn off and as long as I noted what lap I was on on my phone I could listen to the radio. Zoe Ball’s show was very emotional with lots of war veterans talking of their memories. It really bought home the sacrifices their generation made so we have the freedom we enjoy today. Made more poignant by the fact that we currently have that freedom taken away from us due to the virus.
The laps ticked away and Steve came out again about 11 am to do another 5kms. Once he was done I was alone again no aid stations, cheery marshals or event signs to follow. Just me running round and round the cricket boundary. My cat came out to spectate for a bit but she eventually got bored. The crowd weren’t exactly enthralled by my efforts and they certainly didn’t go wild!!!
It had started off quite pleasant with a nice bit of cloud cover but after lunch it got warmer. I walked 1 lap around lunch time so I could do a FB live video as I didn’t want to stumble and end my attempt! I was conscious I needed to take on fluids so had Abi bring out regular pints of cold blackcurrant squash. I’ve stopped using expensive sports drinks and supplements and rely on simple food and water. I had a bagel around 8am with jam on then 2 bananas throughout the run. I’ve found now I don’t need to stuff my face with food and find I run better with little and often, sticking to natural foods rather than processed sugary junk. My daughter did a couple of laps with me which was a nice boost.
I’ve spent many years training hard for various events and over those years the key game changers have been the increasing my S&C training and changing my diet. I added in heavy weights 2 years ago after studying for a qualification in Strength and Conditioning and have continued with this consistently since. There is lots of evidence now that lifting heavy weights is really beneficial for runners so I go for basic, heavy weights with low reps. I’ve seen a real improvement in my running in general and was looking forward to a competitive season with my running club. Sadly as we are all aware all events are off for the foreseeable future and to be honest I cant see any change to this for the rest of the year.
Changing my diet to a plant based one has made a significant difference but one that is hard to quantify. I have been able to recover much quicker from training and can eat plenty without feeling bloated and gaining weight. I eat a much more varied diet packed with whole foods and nutrient rich foods. I’m sure its not just the diet but couple with a good solid training regime its made a huge difference to my health and recovery.
By 2pm I was into the last 2 kms. My best friend in Scotland finished work and joined me for a 5km via our Bluetooth headphones. She had her cowbell which was a great noise to hear.
She’s fab and inspires me as much as I’ve inspired her. She blames me for getting her into running! (Mini fist pump to me I say!!). We chatted about usual stuff and Steve joined us for the last 5km. With just a lap to go I did a FB live and Abi joined us. A fellow KAD had been supporting me along the way and she caught the Benny Hill type finish as I got in the last few metres towards her.
No finish line, no cheering, no goodie bag but it felt good to stop running.
I had my VE day medal that Abi presented to me and then I climbed through my back fence and that was it. We popped open some fizz, had some vegan cake, I had a shower then a lie down. Pretty unepic end to a rather epic achievement.
I had some of Steve’s awesome risotto for dinner and by 10 pm I was in bed. Running total for fund raising was £620 so I was quite chuffed with my efforts.
Looking back on the 178 laps I cant believe it flew past so quickly. I was running pretty much non stop for 8 hours 50 mins. People often ask how I do it (or why) and I guess the first thing to point out is I train dam hard. Running and being fit doesn’t just happen, it takes hard work and dedication. I’ve always said if you just run you probably wont see much improvement but if you get fitter and stronger then running gets easier. My rowing days gave me a good base of strength training and if you want to get stronger you have to lift heavy weights so I’ve built on this. It requires a continuing commitment and change takes months rather than weeks. If you want advice on building strength training into your routine then please contact me. Mentally I must have a little loose screw somewhere. I like the feeling of getting back to basics, of simply being in the moment. If I could, I’d love to just run off somewhere epic and strip everything back, sleep under the stars and run for days on end. It amazes me what the human body is capable and I like that feeling of pushing it to the edge (although I still don’t feel like I’ve pushed myself far enough). Sometimes during long events I count; just up to 100 then I start again. Sometimes I focus on how my body feels; what hurts, hunger, thirst? I often dig out old memories that are maybe traumatic or things I am ashamed of but it does me good to open up those boxes, refold the memories and tuck them away again. Maybe its a sort of therapy, who knows. For me though the challenge gave me a sense of purpose, just for a few days. I felt valued, empowered and encouraged. It gave me a focus and also the chance to push myself a little bit closer to the edge that I so desperately want to look over. The money raised is going to local causes which means people in my community will benefit directly. Steve and I are very lucky in these difficult times. We’ve got each other (and his new worms for his wormery!!!!!!), our families are safe and well and we’re ok financially for the time being. Many people aren’t and we are in for a long journey of hardship and sacrifice. If we can all help in our own small way then we can get through this together and hopefully come out somewhere on the other side stronger, more connected and with a better respect for our community, neighbours and our planet.
(Final total raised £672) 🙂
Please stay safe and if you have any questions about running, ultra running or just training in general please comment below 🙂