My fitness update: May 2020

2020 fitness plan

As with many other aspects of life under the pandemic lockdown, there’s little new to report in terms of my fitness update for May. It’s been more about damage limitation than forward progress this month.

Having mixed things up a little, I’m looking to get back on track in June. But here’s the story of what I managed to do in May. Or should that be ‘Meh’?

Monday 4th May

I’ve been struggling with a catalogue of minor muscular twinges for the past week or so. Nothing too dramatic but enough to deter me from running.

In truth, I need to find a new focus for at least the next few weeks. Ever since I broke the 30-minute barrier for 5km over Easter, my enthusiasm has ebbed. Fewer runs. Shorter distances. Finding excuses not to go out at all.

I know I said I’d set myself my next target of dipping under 28:52 – the average finishing time for Parkrun. And I haven’t abandoned it completely. But it’s just not motivating me at the moment.

So instead I’ve decided to work on my speed and explosiveness in a different way by doing Joe Wicks’ daily half-hour PE with Joe sessions on YouTube.

Heather and the kids have been doing this since they started, although less frequently than initially. I never joined them because by the time each daily session started at 9am I would already be working. But now I’m going to make time in the evening to do them, hopefully at least every other day.

It will be good for me to have a different focus until my enthusiasm for running returns. In the meantime, I can work on a mix of cardio, explosiveness, core strength and improving flexibility. The last two of these are my biggest weaknesses currently. I have no abs to speak of and my lack of suppleness is undoubtedly contributing to my regular muscular twinges.

I guess I’ll just have to get over my intense dislike of lunges and burpees …

Wednesday 13th May

My diet is a little bit all over the place at the moment.

I suppose it’s an almost inevitable consequence of an extended lockdown. I’ve had fewer opportunities to get out and do the big calorie-burning gym sessions and runs that I use to do. And the monotony of being cooped up at home has resulted in more comfort eating.

On the plus side, my blood glucose levels remain under control and my weight now is essentially the same as it was at the start of lockdown. So, despite slackening off, I must still be doing something right. But I’m constantly finding myself struggling to hold back the urge to binge-eat, let alone eat sensibly.

It’s easy to see why this has happened. And I’m not going to beat myself up too much about it. But, for now, my mojo has gone.

Sunday 17th May

Two weeks after starting PE With Joe, I’ve done seven sessions – and no runs. I’ve actually quite enjoyed them, and only in part because of the novelty of doing something different. They provide – just – enough of a cardio workout to keep me happy. But they also make me stretch and twist muscles that I wouldn’t ordinarily use when running.

If I do two days in a row, I can really feel the soreness in my muscles the morning after. And, after two weeks, I’m seeing slight but noticeable improvements in my upper body muscle tone. Not to mention greater flexibility – or maybe that should be reduced inflexibility.

I’m even thinking about adding a couple of short yoga sessions to my weekly routine. Well, maybe not yet. I’ll keep that in mind for next month when I need another change to freshen things up again.

Monday 25th May

To mix things up a bit, I decided to do some seriously explosive training today.

There’s a long path near home that runs down towards Toby and Kara’s school. It’s dead straight, about 120 metres long and about a 3% incline. Perfect for hill sprints, in fact.

So that’s what I tried this morning. Start at the bottom of the path, sprint at 95% to the top, turn around and walk back down, sprint back up again. Rinse and repeat. I did the uphill sprint ten times in a row and was pleased that my last two efforts were actually the fastest of all.

I’m going to hurt like hell tomorrow, though, aren’t I?

Tuesday 26th May

Yep. Oh my God, my legs hurt. I won’t be doing a Joe Wicks session any time soon.

Wednesday 27th May

Still hurting. 

Thursday 28th May

Nope, still hurting. And there I was thinking I was reasonably fit. I’m going to rest up until the weekend. At least.

Sunday 31st May

And, just like that, my mojo has returned.

On Friday, I passed up the opportunity to clock up 20,000 steps in a day for the first time in over ten weeks, since shortly before lockdown started. I finished the day on 18.9k. In the past, I would have squeezed in ten minutes on the cross-trainer before bed for the satisfaction of ticking off the milestone. I didn’t, though.

It’s not a big deal in the grander scheme. But for me it’s a mentality thing: if I can take that extra little step, I do it. Just because. To my mind, all those micro-efforts add up over time and keep me moving forward rather than settling.

I’ve done a lot of settling since lockdown started. Too many excuses. Gym closed. Boredom. Niggling injuries. A million and one reasons to forego those extra steps or skip an evening run.

Yesterday, I woke up kicking myself. And so I decided to do something about it. Instead of opening my eyes, realising it was 6:20am and going back to sleep again, I got up and went for a long walk before everyone else got up. By bedtime, I had sailed comfortably past 20,000 steps. Tick.

And then today I did it again. We were planning to go out on a 6km family walk before lunch, but I headed out and clocked up an early hour and another eight thousand steps anyway. By bedtime, I’d totalled over 26,000 steps – my best single day since 9th March.

I finished the week with almost exactly 120,000 steps, my best seven-day stretch since the week before lockdown.

It feels good. Now that I’ve done that, what’s next?

Progress this month

‘Progress’ isn’t really the appropriate word this month. But even holding steady feels like a small win at the moment.

My weight has remained steady (give or take a pound either way) all month. So despite feeling like I am constantly overeating, I’m keeping things in check. I’d like to lose the two pounds I need to reach my mid-year goal. It’s not the end of the world if I don’t, as I’ve still lost weight steadily since Christmas. But it’s a target – and I’d like to be able to say I’ve achieved it.

I’ve dropped my running goal for the moment. Minor injuries have hampered me a little but the motivation isn’t there at the moment and I’ve decided that maintaining my current fitness is acceptable enough given the current circumstances.

As long as I keep on track with my high-intensity workouts, I’ll be happy. For now that’s mostly my slightly irregular Joe Wicks schedule, but I’ll hopefully ease back into running over the next couple of weeks.

I’ll get to the mid-point of the year and then re-evaluate. No one could have predicted what these last few months would turn out, so I’m not concerned about having drifted off-plan in a few places. July 1st will be the start of a new half-year. I’ll get there first – and then work out where I go next. 


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