It is the weekend of the original date of the London Marathon. Yesterday evening would normally involve me digesting a pre-race bowl of pasta, fighting nerves, and setting redundant early morning alarms whilst simultaneously laying out a variety of race outfits and breakfast options. Today I would have taken the DLR to Greenwich, then walked the deceptively long and hilly walk to the start line, before focusing on my pacing and form for the next three and a half hours or so.
But the world is not normal right now.
I don’t want to dwell on how life has turned upside down. How staying inside is the new going out. About the huge toll the pandemic has taken on life. But I will write about how I’ve adapted. How a two-bedroom apartment is now my castle, my office, my training ground.
I get out, making the most of my government-sanctioned daily exercise. During the first week of lockdown, when I thought the UK government was going to imminently restrict outdoor exercise, I ran like it was my last outing as a free man. No half-assing it, each run was a lung-opening, tear-inducing tempo run, as I took in the visual stimulus of an English Spring, fearful that it would be my final outing. But London is crowded, and once I realised that my outings were becoming increasingly stressful, dodging scores of other people, I retracted to more indoor training.
I decided to focus on my upper body and core strength, building on a couple months of F45 training. I started a push-up challenge with a couple of friends, turning training into a competitive and social activity.
I also thought about structured indoor training. In preparation for Race Across America three years ago I bought a Wahoo Kicker, and since that race I had not used this excellent turbo trainer in earnest. Until now. The Kicker, paired up with Zwift, lets me train in a structured manner, whilst socialising with friends who also cycle. I had to buy a few extras like a very sensibly priced trainer mat so that sweat and grease would not drip unceremoniously from the bike at the end of a session, matting into the bedroom carpet. But it’s good. It’s a time-efficient way to train and keep my cardio up, whilst building cycling-specific muscles.
My nutrition has improved too. With dine-in restaurants not being an option, and with queues at both physical and virtual supermarkets, I’ve rekindled my passion for cooking. Coupled with exercise, I’m now the lightest I’ve been as an adult, but getting stronger on the bike and fast when road running.
Mentally, between the day job and my exercise routine, I’m in a happy space. I also have the new London Marathon date in October to focus on (for now). My Kenya mountaineering expedition is indefinitely postponed, but hopefully it can be pencilled in for summer 2021. I also enjoy being able to catch up with my old Cheshire running group, now that they have embraced socialising via Zoom. And of course, the hugely social element of Zwift.
So there it is, my training life, reassessed in these most unusual times. I safely ran 14.5 miles through quiet streets in central London today – not quite the London Marathon, but we adapt, and will come out of this stronger.
Stay safe, stay fit.