Welcome to Lockdown 2.0

It’s fair to point out that this lockdown is little less lockdowny that the previous lockdown. Apart from toilet rolls availability (yay!), the main difference is that schools are staying open so the joy of getting stuck in school run traffic is here to remain. Also this time, we know what to expect which isn’t necessarily a good thing. The financial impact aside, just like last time, the more extraverted you are, the more you are likely to suffer in the next four weeks. Socialising in pubs and cafes with friends? Forget it. Going out for a meal? Dream on! (Ahhh, remember the good times of Eat Out to Help Out scheme?) Non-essential shopping therapy? Not a chance.

For me as a busy parent and an introvert, very little has changed, but I know many people who struggle greatly with the idea of being limited by the lockdown rules for another four weeks (minimum).

Given the change of season and cold weather, it is going be so easy to give in to self-pity, TV, booze and take-outs. Besides, we have cleaned, reorganised and decorated every inch of the house during the previous lockdown, so what’s left to do other than binge watch Netflix and try to survive until the pubs open again, right?

But how about living, rather than surviving? I mean, you have nearly a month of “solitude” so why not emerge on the other end as your better self, rather than someone who earned a million Pizza Hut loyalty points and is a Tiger King expert (is that show still a thing?). This is your chance to surprise the world and exit the lockdown smarter/faster/stronger/leaner/healthier…

Let’s be realistic – it would be extremely difficult to get a six pack in four weeks, but you can start creating positive habits that will continue when lockdown is over. Go for a walk or a run (and bring a friend along because Boris allowed you to), do that online course, start cooking healthy (no, no more banana loaf!), meditate, embark on a push-up challenge…do whatever it is you always wanted to do. Because just surviving is not good enough. So many people would love to have more time in the world and they don’t. You do. So don’t you dare insulting them with this “just surviving” nonsense. Time is precious. So whatever it is you always wanted to do – start now! As in N-O-W. Chop chop!

I ran 11 miles today so if you excuse me, I shall put my feet up and enjoy my well-deserved Friday feeling. Looking forward to hearing all about your lockdown activities and if you need a kick in the bumbum, I’m here to help (=annoy you) as always! πŸ˜€ 😎

My dream job!

Day 3 of being unemployed.

Number of jobs applied for: 13. Luck: 0.

While deeply contemplating about what it is that I really want to do in my life, I wrote down a list of my strongest skills and the ideal set of responsibilities I would like to carry out in a potential new role….and realised that my dream job is:

Job title: Running Specialist

Overall purpose of job: To run as much as possible, as far as possible and as fast as possible.

Accountabilities:

  • Map daily runs on Strava, exercise creativity when planning routes
  • Upload daily runs to Garmin
  • Compile running playlists
  • Execute daily runs
  • Document all runs (selfies)
  • Greet all passingby runners
  • Maintain detailed training log in Excel
  • Use dashboards to monitor progress against KPI’s
  • Upon completion share runs on multiple social media platforms
  • Blog about runs
  • Foam roll
  • Carb load
  • Keep up to date with the latest running trends
  • Liaise with stakeholders to plan group runs
  • Motivate others to start running
  • Enter races on a regular basis
  • Explain non-running strangers what running is about

Skills and capabilities:

  • Passion for running (essential)
  • Knowledge of running suppliers
  • PO10 profile
  • Member of a professional body (running club)
  • Capable of delivering against set targets
  • PB focused
  • Excellent route planning skills
  • Willingness to run in all weather conditions
  • Systems knowledge (Strava, Garmin Connect, etc.)
  • Mild to moderate nuttiness
  • Strava segments awareness (desirable)

How to show the world you’re a proper runner

During our delightful lockdown, large numbers of joggers-newbies appeared practically out of nowhere. Because, who would want to miss out on their entitlement of one form of exercise a day, right?

First of all, let us be clear that we (we = the true running legends *cough*) support them and encourage them to run because we love running. We want them to keep it up and do well.

At the same time, we sometimes can’t help it and tend to judge them with the same scepticism that we have for all the newbies who join the gym on January 1st every year. We know that soon their numbers will be depleted and most of them will end up back on their sofa. Sad reality.

As much as you want everyone in the world to take on running, you were doing it since before you were even born and don’t want to be mistaken for a newbie (not that there is anything wrong about being one). So how do you make sure that the world (the passing-by drivers, doggers, cyclists and most importantly other runners) realise that you are the real deal?

Here are the key points, some of which you are already following (that is if you really are the hardcore gel-eater that you claim to be):

  • Wear a race top, ideally an older one, with a year clearly visible to show everyone you’ve been doing this for a long time.
  • Lycra. Be dressed in lycra head to toe. Loose sweatpants advertise that you are a newbie.
  • Wear as little clothes as possible. Is it windy and rainy? So? Running vest and shorty shorts are still all you need. Put away that bloody winter jacket you rookie!!
  • Wear only real running brands, especially when it comes to shoes. Lonsdale sneakers are NOT running shoes. It’s gonna get expensive so whoever told you that running is a cheap sport was not a true runner.
  • Do not jog holding a bottle of water. Especially not if it’s just an old coke bottle refilled with water and you are doing two laps around the block. No! You don’t need that stuff. If you are going for a long run (long run is not 3 miles!!!) and need some hydration, use a proper fancy running belt or camelbak.
  • Do not stop and walk! It’s a no no. Just keep running. No stopping. NO!
  • Go running no matter the weather. Pissing down? Only the hardcore runners will be out – so you can show the world you are one of them!
  • Enthusiastically greet all passing runners. An acknowledgement nod is not good enough. Wave as if you’ve just spotted your best mate.
  • Join Strava. Share all your runs on other social media for those who are not Strava athletes. Running without a fitness watch is not allowed!
  • When talking to friends, refer to your cousin’s husband’s uncle as your “coach” just because he once gave you a running related tip.
  • If you really want to take it to the next level, get a foam roller. And then never use it.
  • Finally, please don’t do stupid stretches using a bench in the park. No real runner has ever been spotted doing that kind of stuff.

I hope these tips are helpful and will consolidate your status of a running legend. Also note, that it is much easier to impress non-runners who have not got a clue whether you have just completed a 10 miler or jogged up and down the street. Chances are they will tell everyone you run marathons just because they regularly see you sweaty and dressed in lycra. Take advantage of that!

Now, if you are a newbie who is trying to fit in the running community and disguise yourself as one of us, follow the tips above religiously (you are welcome). We sincerely hope that what started as a disguise will become your nature. I am already looking forward to spotting you sucking on a warm piss-flavoured gel at mile 15 of your Sunday run.

Are you a secret introvert?

I remember learning at school about introversion and extraversion. It appeared that to be perceived as cool, one ought to be an extrovert so that’s what I said I was when the teacher asked, not paying notice to my evenings spent alone reading and weekends wandering by myself in the woods.

The differences between extroverts and introverts have their foundations in dopamine, specifically how active the dopamine rewards system in their brain is. To explain simply – dopamine enables you to be excited by the possibility of a pleasure/reward. You may have already guessed that extroverts are those with a more active dopamine reward system than those of introverts. That is why the possibility of a pleasure (which can be anything from social status to food to money) is more appealing to extroverts and serves them as a motivator. Subsequently extroverts put more effort into pursuing these possibilities, while introverts take it a bit more easy. An extrovert is having a great time chatting to all sorts of people at a party (=> a possible reward of better social status, new acquaintances and relationships, perhaps even sex) while introvert just chills at home without much FOMO.

I grew up convinced that one gets nowhere if he/she isn’t a go-getter who’s always out there, and so I spent most of my life doing all the uncomfortable things (telephone job interviews, work dos, you name it) without questioning why I am doing all this when my dream job would be sitting alone in a room with multiple computer screens and no one to disturb me. When I used to fly as a cabin crew, I was quite creative at coming up with excuses why I cannot hang out with my colleagues downroute. I even remember this one time when they convinced me to come join them for lunch, but in the restaurant I got up before we even ordered starters, walked away and had a delightful meal on my own in another establishment. A right twat. But a happy one. At that point I was still 100% sure I was an extrovert.

What made me review things is the lockdown we currently live in. When they shut the country down (bars, restaurants, cinemas…) and introduced social distancing, a lot of people freaked out. They won’t be able to see their family, spend time with friends, get off their faces and go clubbing, have a meal out, go physically to the office or anywhere else really. Sounds awful right? Except to me it sounded (and still does) wonderful! It’s like I recieved an official license to be an unsociable weirdo who does not talk to people (especially not since being furloughed). A dream come true!

A work colleague organised an unofficial series of zoom catch up sessions. I dialed into the first one and spent an hour listening how people struggle not being able to hang out with people and how difficult this all is. I never dialed into another one again. As our lockdown progressed, I even started ignoring calls and messages from my friends and family just because I did not feel like talking to people. (If I am currently not replying to you, I still love you btw, just very busy enjoying some quality alone time.) In no way I feel like I am struggling due to the lack of social contact – on the contrary. I’m enjoying this new way of life tremendously, which makes me consider the possibility that there might be a bit of an introvert in my clearly extroverted personality. Or perhaps I have been a fake extrovert my entire life? Who knows πŸ˜‰

Now let’s talk about you. Ask yourself: How do I cope with quarantine?

  • On a daily basis, are you struggling not being able to go out and socialise?
  • Are you constantly texting and facetiming all your friends and family members?
  • Do your usual activities (like going for a walk, exercising, or simply watching TV) seem way less fun when done on your own?
  • Do you get bored because you don’t know what to do with your time on your own?
  • Are you joining every silly zoom call, virtual wine session and pub quizz?
  • Do you prefer to fill your newly gained free time with anything, but self-reflection?
  • Do you miss engaging in small talk with random members of the public?

The more “no” answers to the questions above, the more of an introvert you are. If you (like me) answered “no” to all of them – welcome to the club and enjoy the lockdown because it won’t last forever. ❀

How to get away with your second run

Imagine living in a world where going for a second run is not allowed. Great idea for a sci-fi movie plot. Except it’s our reality.

If you’re one of those nutters who always used to run twice a day, or need a second jog in order not to murder a family member, here are some tips on how to make it happen:

  1. Run at night. Wear black clothes and cover your face in black paint. Tell no one. If your spouse becomes suspicious, admit a fictitious affair.
  2. Do your second run wearing your household member’s fitness watch. Ideally without them knowing so it will be them who gets Strava bollocking.
  3. Run in disguise. A wig won’t do. Be thorough. Invent an “undercover runner” persona. Think it through. What is their name? What is their comfortable pace? Do they push themselves or just jog casually? Music or no music? How do they greet other runners? Do they hate dog walkers? What is their running style?
  4. Buy a new fitness watch and create second Strava account. Under a fake name obviously. Follow your fake Strava account and comment on their runs.
  5. Ask a lazy-bum non-active neighbour if you can have their daily exercise allowance. Exchange for toilet roll if necessary. Make them sign a legal contract. Hire a lawyer not to get screwed over. Carry the contract with you on all your second runs.
  6. Run on your way to do your essentials shop. That surely does not count as exercise. Upload a picture of you with a shopping basket to Strava in case anyone complains.
  7. Pretend you are insane and do your second run with a fully equipped military bag. If someone asks, say you were told to get to the extraction point as soon as possible.
  8. Do a morning run. Pause your fitness watch. Un-pause to do your evening run. Don’t shower between the two runs – that would be cheating.
  9. Wear a nurse uniform and pretend you are run-commuting. To be prepared, watch some YouTube videos on how to give CPR – if worse comes to worst.
  10. Don’t use your home rubbish bin. Instead, run outside to the bin every time you have a piece of rubbish to throw out. Encourage family members to munch on Celebrations and offer to dispose of each wrapper individually.

Please do delight me with your ideas – I am sure you have plenty πŸ™‚

And most importantly, do not let me tempt you – always stick to government guidelines and social distancing rules πŸ˜‰

Armageddon Diaries 07 April 2020: Furlough

Yesterday it was my first official day of furlough! The fact that at about 5:30 am I realised I forgot to pay Β£18K to a supplier and since I am furloughed I am not allowed to log in to sort it out spoiled the start of the day a little… But then I went for my first (soaking wet) 10 miler since being unwell last week, and my life was great once again.

In our company, the majority of staff got furloughed on 80% pay until the end of May. Surprisingly, there was a mixed response to this.

You are given two months off on 80% pay. How can anyone be unhappy about this? Sure, 80% is not 100%, but realistically with events cancelled, pubs closed and no chance to travel, you might end up being financially better off.

My second point is – nearly two months off. OFF! No work! Remember how you always say you work too much? Well, now you don’t have to. Okay, I hear you – with events cancelled, pubs closed and no chance to travel, what is there left to do?

Well – everything! Remember all the things you always wanted to do? Your prayers have been answered πŸ˜‰ You can now paint your study, start 30 days abs challenge, read all the books, do that marketing course, think about the meaning of universe and everything. This is your chance! Take it! Grab it by the tail or hair or horns or whatever body part you choose – just do it! Don’t waste this chance because it most likely is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

If anyone moans about being bored, I will come, break the social distancing rule and smack their face. Boredom is criminal. There are people who have been taken from this world far too soon. If you are sitting around bored, you are being a disgrace because those dying people would do anything to have another healthy day in this world. So do not dare to be bored. Get up and do something, even if it’s binge watching a TV series or cleaning the windows.

Whatever you chose to do, just feel alive doing it and be grateful for having the opportunity and the time…because many don’t, so you are very fortunate indeed.

Armageddon Diaries: 30 March 2020

I have spent the past week and half on annual leave (that’s correct – I have wasted seven days of my leave in a lockdown). Today was my first day back in the “real” world – in the world where we have to work from home while taking care of our children at the same time. I mean like “what???”

I am a single parent of an almost-2-yr-old darling (read “little sh!t”) whom I love with my whole heart and more. I normally struggle coping with him at weekends because he needs entertainment every waking minute and can sit still for about 45 seconds at a time. So when I was told I would work from home while taking care of my son, I nodded the same way I would nod if someone told me they had been abducted by aliens.

This morning I woke up all charged up and determined to do it. By 9:30 am during a video meeting my child was quite literally climbing onto me using my hair to pull himself up. At 9:45 he became very quiet and finally entertained himself. I suspected he might be in the bathroom drinking toilet bleach. When the meeting was over a few minutes later, the bleach was untouched but I found black permanent marker drawings on the furniture. They will go well with the chocolate hand prints on the walls and miniature tyre marks on the doors.

Finally, we got to nap time which meant I can get some work done. It took me 45 mins to send him to sleep, but it was totally worth it as he slept for whole 16 minutes. Out of my work day he spent about 30% time squeaking, howling and throwing himself onto the floor.

Going mad towards the end of the day, I donned a blonde curly wig for the wide team meeting. Losing my fear of embarrassing myself, I have won some sort of “best coffee mug” competition, only thank to my wig, having no coffee mug handy.

Now here I am at the end of the day, only just starting to actually work, thinking “How will I keep this up for another two or more months?”

How?

I haven’t got a clue.

Even my own mother who has got a PhD in pedagogy wanted my advice on this because apparently she gets asked that question all the time.

My advice to her was:

You know when Jesus was on the cross and he got offered wine but refused? Well, parents homeschooling their little ones while trying to work from home are essentially hanging on their own crosses. The wine offered to Jesus was intended as a type of painkiller. You are in pain. My advice is: take the wine! You need to take the edge off the pain, so please do whatever it takes – exercise, wine, chocolate, kicking the wall… whatever it takes. Because you need to stay sane – because you don’t want to snap and scream at your children – because you don’t want to be unkind – because you cannot lose your sense of humour. So do whatever works for you, no matter what it is, because all is fair in love and war πŸ˜‰

Armageddon Diaries: 25 March 2020

Sleep: Higher likelihood of me getting a six pack before achieving more than 6 and half hours sleep.

Weekly mileage: 18. Running keeps me sane. That is if I am still sane.

Risk of redundancy: 90%

What is worse I wonder – uncertainty or unpleasant certainty?

These days we live in uncertainty, as well as unpleasant certainty. I am a numbers person. If I know I have about 15% chance of finding toilet paper on the shelves of my local supermarket, I won’t even bother going in, because the chance is too slim. If I assess that I have about 10% chance of still being in a job by the time this is over, the numbers are clearly not in my favour.

But those are just numbers. Statistics. Estimates. How about having a little faith? Faith which cannot be expressed in numbers. Faith that things will work out as they have done so far, despite uncertainties and hardships. When we do everything that is in our power, there is no point in worrying any more. All we can do is sit back, have a little faith and perhaps inspire others who desperately need it. Just close your eyes and imagine the whole universe working in your favour, because it does and it will, although at this moment in time we do not understand it yet. So just have a little faith because it brings us peace that we so sorely need.

Armageddon Diaries 23 March

Sleep: 6 and half hours! Despite hearing “ready, steady, go” from my child’s bedroom at 1 am and then again at 3:30 am..

Toilet roll count: One less than yesterday but still enough, however not too many.

Schools: Shut. Auto correct. Shit.

Okay now on a serious note – Britons, stop being dickheads!

I have 3 packs of pasta at home (=pasta rich). So I offered one to my friend’s son because he is a key worker and needs it more than I do.

Yes, we all live in an extraordinary uncertainty when our freedoms, comforts, living and even lives are being threatened, but it does not mean we have the right to be cruel. If anything, now is the time to show some kindness. This is our chance to demonstrate that we as mankind and also as individuals are considerate and supportive of each other. If you don’t take this opportunity to do something nice for the ones who need it now, the fiver you’ll donate to charity next year will mean f all. So stop hoarding toilet paper and be kind. Just be kind. One little act of kindness per day will do. Because if you are not kind now, during tough times, you are a dickhead and there is no helping you.

Armageddon Diaries: 18 March 2020

Sleep: 5 and half hours (2 hours increase since the night before)

Toilet rolls count: enough

Wine stock: 18 bottles. *Starts calculating a complex formula that would determine how many bottles are needed for this lock-down thing. The first draft of the formula is:

X (which is the amount of wine bottles required) = the amount of days in self-isolation x average anxiety level (scale 1 to 5) x 1 if schools are open or 3 if schools are shut / orgasms per day + number of miles ran per day

Putting this into practice:

14 days in self-isolation x anxiety of 2 x 3 (schools shut soon) / 0 orgasms + 13 miles = 6.5 bottles of wine required. Sounds about right.

Risk of redundancy: 50/50, not in the immediate future luckily.

Schools: shutting soon. Lord give us strength!

Achievement of the day: Two loads of laundry and a lone half marathon PB that took 5 mins off my previous PB last autumn.

I am going to bed now, wishing to wake up in the good old world as we used to know it. Perhaps this was just one of the virtual reality games…