We’ve reached the end of the first full month under coronavirus lockdown. While I ticked off one major goal in April, it’s fair to say a combination of lockdown rules and my own wavering motivation have held me back somewhat.
Here’s what I’ve been up to during a month in which I’ve been cooped up at home like never before.
Sunday 5th April
Heather mentioned to me today that I was starting to look a bit gaunt and that, if anything, I have now lost too much weight.
I’m not entirely sure I agree with that but I take her point. I’m noticeably less Billy Bunter in the face than I once was. My neck, once thick-set, now looks positively thin: my collar size has dropped by more than an inch.
I’m not underweight, though. I have definitely lost as much fat across most of my body as I need to. (It’s noticeable how I still feel cold while others are stripping off layers, whereas the opposite used to be true.) But I still also have a stubborn ring of padding around my midriff which needs tightening up – less six-pack, more Tetrapak. I need to swap fat for muscle. Time to start doing those abs sessions I hate so much.
Thursday 9th April
Today was the 100th day of 2020 and also the 200th consecutive day on which I’ve achieved at least 10,000 steps.
That in itself isn’t particularly remarkable, as I managed a 336-day streak last year. But I’m really starting to see the effects of lockdown now. Where I was managing 21-22,000 steps before, my daily average has now halved. I used to achieve at least 15,000 steps on 90% of days, but the last time I passed this milestone was on 28th March: 12 days ago. I topped 20,000 on 47 of the first 81 days of 2020 but haven’t done so in the 19 days since.
No gym. No weights. One outdoor exercise a day. I’m finding ways to keep my activity at a reasonable level – having a cross-trainer at home is a life-saver – but there are some days when I am having to make a big effort to get to 10,000 steps, a target I used to surpass by lunchtime most days.
At the same time, I’m comfort-eating more to compensate for the tedium of being at home all day, every day. More crisps and chocolate; more snacks in general.
I think I need to be realistic here as we enter the long Easter weekend. Just maintaining my current weight is going to be enough of a challenge in itself. I need to be kind to myself and dial back slightly on my more ambitious fitness goals.
Friday 10th April
After everything I wrote yesterday, I went out on a speculative long run this morning and returned having clocked a time of 29:47 for 5km. I am now officially a sub-30 minute 5km runner. That’s a massive goal ticked off. I’m not fast by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m significantly quicker than I was a year ago.
Next step: 28:52, which is the average finishing time at Parkrun. It’s as good a target as any and I think it’s important to keep focussed on moving forwards.
Sunday 19th April
Two weeks after saying it was time to focus on tightening up my tummy, I still haven’t started doing anything about it.
I’m not sure why, really. Maybe I’m scarred by the memory of having to do sit-ups in PE lessons at school. Or it could be that I’ve just subsided into a state of lockdown-induced laziness. Either way, I’m still not doing anything about it, no matter how much I keep reminding myself.
This feeds my biggest fear about being stuck in lockdown. I can feel myself slipping slowly out of the good habits I’ve spent the last 18 months developing. And as this happens, I fear that some of my bad habits will return.
I’m not worried about the fact that I’m exercising considerably less and eating a bit more now. While I’ve relaxed somewhat and I can feel a little of my conditioning ebbing away, my weight is holding steady and I’m still running regularly enough. What concerns me is whether I will be able to re-establish my routines once things return to normal. If I’m going to keep driving towards my fitness goals, I need to maintain that discipline. But while we’re stuck in this seemingly interminable lockdown, I feel like everything is on hiatus and I’m just drifting along. I need to rediscover my focus.
Monday 27th April
Today was my first run in a week. I’ve been sidelined by a muscular twinge, so it was good to get out and turn my legs over again.
Ever since I managed my sub-30:00 5km run on Good Friday, running has been a bit of a struggle. I’ve been running shorter distances and my pace has often been noticeably slower. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s a case of stepping off the gas a little bit, having finally hit my one big running goal. It also feels like I have a slight chest cold that I just can’t shake off.
Whatever it is, I’m in a bit of a funk at the moment. All I can do is to keep running and accept that I can’t always be setting new personal bests every time I go out. A bad run is better than no run at all.
Progress this month
Achieving my target time for 5km was a big milestone this month. But, other than that, it feels like I’m not so much making progress as stuck in a bit of a holding pattern.
I’ve lost a pound in weight this month, more by accident than design. My target weight is just a couple of pounds away, so there’s no reason why even a modicum of effort won’t see me across the finishing line.
Now that I’ve achieved my sub-30:00 5km, I’ve decided not to set myself a longer distance as my next target. Instead I’m targetting 28:52 for 5km by 12th July. That feels like a bit of a stretch, but again it’s a realistic enough goal with some focus and effort.
I didn’t manage quite as many runs this month as I was aiming for. This was largely due to my minor injury. Now that I’m out and running again, hopefully I’ll get back on track. But I’m only three efforts behind where I should be at this point – 47 against a par of 50 – which is eminently recoverable.
Focus is the name of the game for me for the next month. I can’t achieve the same intensity in the current lockdown I was managing before but I can certainly be doing a bit more. Small steps.