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! 😀 😎

The return of the segment ninja :)

It’s a common knowledge that I used to hate running (and sports in general). I was a nerdy kid. I wore old-fashioned clothes and read Harry Potter while J. K. Rowling still lived in a cardboard box and The Witcher before it was translated to English. Perhaps it was all the books, or perhaps something else, but I always felt very much limited by the streets of my home town. I felt I didn’t belong there because the town just didn’t get me. I was freaked out by the possibility that I would lead a little life locked in the cage of “normality”. So when the first opportunity presented itself, I ran (not literally because at that time I still hated running).

That was over 17 years ago. Since then I have been all around the world and have done and experienced more than some (most?) will do in their entire lifetime. Whenever I have (briefly) returned to my home town, I felt proud because each time I came back crowned by another little success (whether it was a uni degree, a new job, or a different country I have visited/lived in). Today I have returned once again, for a brief time as usual because I am afraid that if I stay too long the town will cage me and lock me up. Today, when I returned it was different than any other time in the past.

First of all, I started the day with an epic segment session when I smoothly took all the Strava segments in the neighbourhood. Given the fact that I was nothing but a nerdy unfit kid when I left, being able to comfortably outrun any female Strava users in the area is just something that blows my mind. And that’s not all. It’s not just the running side of it. This time I arrived back to my home town with a full house….wait….a royal flipping flush in my hand. For the first time in my life I feel like I have it all. Did I mention I run fast? Yeah, that. Plus I feel healthy and great and fit. I have an awesome kid (=an annoying little bugger). I work for the most British airline (for now….loving the furlough life). I live at a place that feels like real home. I have friends I can count on and belong to a supportive community of like-minded nutters (runners). I feel content and at peace. And I have finally met the man of my dreams, although I had very little dreams left in that department and was certainly not looking for any man at all.

So this geeky kid that took a risk 17 years ago, came back to her home town knowing it was all worth it (yes, it was bloody hard work) and that she finally has it all.

“Feeling lucky” does not even come close to describing how fortunate and grateful I consider myself. So maybe, just maybe, this all means that if you keep the faith through the tough times and take some risks instead of following the easy path, you’ll be rewarded for it in a much better way than you can ever imagine 🙂

My running milestone

I just ran 1000 miles!

Obviously not in one go. I ran 1000 miles since the start of 2020. Just to put it into perspective, the previous year I ran 392 miles in total, so I am very proud of myself right now.

Just like going from no running to some running 3 years ago has changed my life, the big mileage increase has changed my life yet again. 2020 is considered to be a horrendous year with a huge amount challenges that affected pretty much everyone, including myself. I used running as an excellent way to put my life problems into perspective…or to avoid them completely (whichever way you want to look at it). In the process I found friendship and love, peace of mind, some confidence, massive gratitude and joy, and most importantly an ability to share it with others.

However cliché it sounds, every single one of those miles helped me become a better person, not just physically but also on so many different levels. I feel really fond of all my miles because they are full of memories – memories of joy, of greeting strangers with a smile, getting thumbs up from passersby as well as being frowned upon, feeling free as well as struggling, loving life as well as wanting to give up, being soaked, lost, sweaty, euphoric, exhausted, determined… It definitely was more than mere exercise. For me, it was (and is) a means of soul searching and finding myself…and I sure do like the person I have found in me.

Let me leave you with my variation on famous Proclaimers’ lyrics:

I just ran a thousand miles, and I will run a thousand more.

Here is to running! Whatever your motive is – just keep going!

#13x13challenge with buggy: Day 10

Date: 10 June 2020

Miles today: 13.25

Total miles: 132.7 and counting

Highlight of the run: Apart from running with my lovely fellow Dasher Louise, the other highlight was exploring Harmondsworth Moor which is quite literally next to my work but I never got the opportunity to discover all of it. Gorgeous spot!

Miss you British Airways 😘

Doing my little #13x13challenge I am lucky to get loads of praise that includes me being called amazing, inspirational and even a “remarkable athlete” (which is my favourite one as I hardly think of myself as an athlete, never mind a remarkable one). While snooping through Strava today, I came across this mad woman who does ridiculous mileage, and a half marathon is just her every day warm up. What I am trying to say – if you are trying your best, don’t let anyone make you feel like that’s not enough. The only person you should compare yourself to is your past self. And make sure you are better than that person! Whether it means running your first mile, getting your 5K under 25 mins, or aiming for your first ultra – it is always an amazing achievement as long as you give it your all.

So give it your all! 🙂

#13x13challenge with buggy: Day 7

Date: 07 June 2020

Miles today: 13.1

Total miles: 93.3! I am now finally the boss of our club’s weekly leaderboard (for the first and most likely also the last time ever). Over the moon!

Hanging in there 🙂

Highlight of the run: Discovering there is a double espresso caffeine gel (thanks Steve!). Can I just have that each morning instead of my coffee?

Another run with a fellow Datchet Dasher today, yay! And because we are sad sad people, we wore our club vests while talking about Strava segments and VO2 max. I felt it was appropriate to “dress up” (yeah, in lockdown times, wearing club kit is considered dressing up). After all, it is Sunday and on Sunday you should wear your best outfit when going to the church. Running and going to a church are activities that suprisingly have more in common than you’d think. You know the feeling when you step into a cathedral and just go “wow”. It’s the combination of high ceilings and gold plated ornaments and statues and paintings and the smell, that leave you in awe and feeling humble and small. Isn’t it just the same when running outside in nature? It’s just “wow”. The sun and sky and fresh air and water surfaces and greenery… I always feel humble surrounded by all the beauty, but I don’t feel small. I feel powerful, strong, on the top of the world, and most importantly eternally grateful for everything I can experience ❤

And what are you grateful for? 🙂

#13x13challenge with buggy: Day 5

Date: 05 June 2020

Miles: aesthetically pleasing 13.13

Total miles: 67.1

Cappuccino time!

Highlight of the run: Finding a good spot for a mid-run wee wee. Always a great success 😄

I have to admit – I was struggling yesterday afternoon/evening. My knees were hurting and I was generally drained (no matter how much carrot cake I ate). I was not up for running another bloody half marathon. This morning, when I eventually got out of the house and started jogging, I was not feeling it at all. But then I thought of my favourite quote by Emil Zátopek.

You know who he is, right? An incredibly inspiring Czech runner whom you can thank for (your favourite) interval training :). Oh, he also ran 5K under 14 minutes. And was the first one to break the 29-min “barrier” in 10K. But arguably, the coolest thing about him is how he totally randomly won a gold medal for running a marathon in 1952 Olympics. That year he already got gold in the 5K and 10K events, and then he made a last minute decision to give his first marathon a go… and won the bloody thing! To this day he remains the only one to have achieved all three in the same Olympics. What a hero!

Anyway, back to his quote. He said “Když nemůžeš, tak přidej” which is boringly translated as “Are you out of breath? Go faster!”. I prefer to translate it in a more poetic way: When you’re struggling, kick it up a notch.

At the begining of today’s run I was struggling. So I kicked it up a notch and ended up running my fastest buggy half while getting a crown on three Strava segments along the way. Something silly compared to Zátopek and his medals; for me an achievement nonetheless 😉

So next time you are struggling (in running or anything else for that matter), kick it up a notch and watch yourself succeed! Happy Friday folks!✌

#13x13challenge with buggy: Day 4

Date: 04 June 2020

Miles today: 13.5

Total miles: 54

Highlight of the run: Wearing my superhero undies to give me superpowers!

Windsor Great Park traditional lollipop. (For non-locals: this is a route starting on the Long Walk, followed by a loop around the Copper Horse statue. Windsor Great Park is generally excellent for buggy running – wide concrete roads, with barely any traffic. Come and visit us!)

As I mentioned on Strava, I am only just starting to realise that this challenge might be hard. (Haha, silly of me right?) I have done some crazy stuff in my life (like moving to a different country four times, running a marathon with no marathon training, or singlehandedly raising a child). Looking back, they sound incredibly scary but at the beginning of each life “challenge” I was totally oblivious to the effort it’d require and pain it’d bring me. And that is probably why I tend to do silly (or perhaps admirable) things and quite often succeed in doing them – because at the beginning all I have is a vision, and only start worrying about the details when it’s too late. They say that luck favours the prepared, right? Well, where do you draw a line between getting ready and simply procrastinating (as a subconscious way of postponing what one was meaning to do, because one doesn’t feel prepared). Newsflash – you never will feel fully prepared. The right time is now. Do that thing you have always been meaning to do, because tomorrow it might just be too late…

Tofu and avocado salad ❤

#13x13challenge with buggy: Day 3

Date: 03 June 2020 – Global Running Day!

Miles today: 13.1

Total miles: 40.4

Highlight of the run: Realising I am fit enough to run at 09:30 pace while being able to sing at the same time! Huge (insincere) apologies to all the cyclists who snuck up on me and had to hear some cheesy hits.

Today I went back to my rivers, but ran in the opposite direction than I did yesterday – that often completely transforms the route and gives one a different perspective. Speaking of perspective: last night I found out I will be made reduntant because my current role will not exist in our soon-restructured company. (I am not writing this to get sympathy, because although I appreciate it, I certainly don’t need it. You can always sponsor my running challenge instead😉.)

A good friend of mine said that I should really put my 13×13 challenge on hold so I can stay at home and be upset. How about no? If anything, that is yet another reason to get out for a run! A year ago, I suffered with anxiety because I could not handle uncertainty very well. 2020 is nothing but a series of never-ending uncertainties, yet I feel at peace. Why? Obviously, exercise (running) plays a massive role in this. And then there is also my slogan – just have a little faith! (Sorry, if you’ve heard it too many times from me.) I refuse to be upset over things I cannot change; I refuse to waste the little time I have been given sitting around and be sad; I refuse not to be happy! So I continue to have a little bit of faith that things will work out just like they always did, and that my life will get better year by year, just like it has done so far. I am not going to say that everything happens for a reason. I am saying that we have to find a reason in everything that happens. One door is closing, but I can already feel the bloody draft from all the other doors being opened!

So if you are in a similar situation, or if you are worried about all the other worriable things, just have a little faith…and also go running. While running, think of everything you can be grateful for, especially those things that we take for granted – like being able to run in the first place. I promise you, there is always way more to be grateful for, than to be worried about!

Let me entertain you with my mad running challenge

The Runnerd (or simply “me” if you think that referring to myself in third person is a sign of mental disturbance) is thrilled to announce a 13 x 13.1 in 13 days challenge starting on 1st of June!

I will (attempt to) run 13 half marathons (13.1 miles) over 13 consecutive days. All of them with a buggy. Let’s just call it the 13×13 challenge, shall we?

Before you ask, yes, I might be mildly bonkers.

Now, why am I doing it?

Trust me, this is a question I will be asking myself several times per day over the next two weeks. So I better write it down while it still makes sense to me:

Occasionally, people tell me I inspired them to do something cool (usually studying or exercising). We live in crazy times and we all seem to be getting a little bit mad (which is only natural) as if having our freedoms limited brings out (on occasions) the worst in us. I strongly believe that exercise is the answer to that. So I want to kick your bottom and energise you! Get up! Get moving! Go for a jog! You’ll experience endorphins rushing through your body which will make you feel happy; you’ll inhale some fresh air which will make your brain work better, and the sense of achievement you get will make you smile for the rest of the day. And if you lose a few grams of your lockdown weight (not that you need to) – well, that’s just the cherry on the cake. So yes, I am doing this to inspire you.

Secondly, I want to show everyone that excuses are lame and totally unnecessary. I am a single mum and have no childcare which means I cannot run, right? Wrong! I’ll shove the wee monster in a buggy and off we go. Whatever excuse you throw at me, chances are that there is always a workaround. Unless you are in a wheelchair and if you are, well, then I will run for you, friend.

If you have never jogged and/or are feeling self-conscious, then join me! If you are close enough to meet me in person, we are “open” between 07:30 and 10:30 7 days a week. I am happy to jog even the shortest distance in your company, no matter how slow, or just go for the (stop/start) first run attempt with you. Get in touch! And if you are not from the Windsor area then join me virtually and share your experience on Insta @the_runnerd or Twitter @JetJenny747. You don’t need these flipping £200 Nike shoes and crappy electrolytes drink to run your first mile. Just get out and do it!

Finally, if you are an experienced/regular runner and don’t need my silly attempts to motivate you, then I am here to entertain you! It’s going to be a laugh. 🙂

Look out for daily updates on this blog and @the_runnerd Instagram, or alternatively my Facebook. And if you don’t know what to do with your cash, feel free to buy me a gel or Lucozade here. Now get off your bum and put your trainers on! Chop chop!

Sod the pace!

I am traditionally fairly sensible / strict when it comes to my everyday life. Even on furlough, I get up at 05:30, aim to learn something new every day, watch what I eat, exercise…

Speaking of exercise, apparently about 80% of our training runs should be at an easy pace. I suspect I am not the only “criminal” out there who does most of their training runs closer to “tempo” rather than “easy” pace. The other day, a hot fast runner was telling me how he should try slow down some of his runs because apparently he does them too fast.

My response was: “Just have fun, sod the pace!”

I mean it sounds crazy trying to consciously slow yourself down when your body is ready to perform (especially since you won’t be racing for another few months). Equally, why would you be killing yourself to achieve the pace you’ve set yourself, when you are just not feeling it? Sometimes you have to let it all go, because those runs when you don’t check your watch tend to be the most enjoyable ones.

Today I set off into chilly but sunny morning. I did 6.81 miles because I felt rebellious enough not to take it to 7. My splits were all over the place. Some areas I felt like putting effort in and was flying, while some places I just jogged casually. I stopped numerous time to take about 57 selfies. I discovered a new path by the river. It was a great fun!

So I’m telling you – sod the pace! (At least once in a while.) Don’t look at your watch. Run because it feels good. Run because you can. Run because you are grateful you can. Run because one day perhaps you won’t be able to. Run for all the people who cannot. Run and smile at strangers. Run and admire the world around. Run and feel the joy!!