Christine Appel

Lessons from lockdown 3: the first 100 days

With the announcement that Scotland will shortly move to Phase 3 of lockdown widely expected today, runABC's Christine reflects on the last few months

The last 100 days have challenged us all in different ways. Being out of our normal routines has been stressful, but it has also presented us with opportunities to rethink the way we’ve been living our lives so far. Our journey through lockdown isn’t over yet, but here’s what I’ve learned since March:

Racing isn’t everything
One Sunday morning shortly after lockdown I was washing the kitchen floor. Picking away at the Weetabix that had welded itself to my tiles, I wrestled with the strange sense that I really should have been somewhere else. Glancing at the clock as I dumped my bucket into the sink, I realised where that somewhere else was: the final miles of the London Marathon. I shrugged my shoulders and reached for the Windolene.

I remember how I felt when London was cancelled: disappointed, angry, confused, frustrated, a little bit scared. But the weeks and months of lockdown have given me a perspective about what really matters in my life and a better sense of where my priorities should be.

Skip forward from April to Monday the 8th of June. I had two notifications in my calendar for that day. The first – highlighted, in bold, in red, in capital letters – was the start of my training for Berlin Marathon. The second, below it, was my step-son’s birthday. 

Before lockdown, I would likely have spent the day fretting about how to juggle that important first day of training with cooking – and eating – the special dinner he asked me to make. Should I run before? Would it be rude to skip dinner and eat later? Would it be best to start the week with speedwork or a long run? 

But with Berlin off the cards by this point too, the birthday became my focus, as it should have been all along. I stuffed my face with curry and had a huge slice of cake. Then another one, justified as a ‘service charge’ for having made it. I didn’t realise it was DAY ONE OF TRAINING until I reached for my third slice. 

Don’t get me wrong. I can’t wait for racing and club life to start again. But homemade Victoria sponge with local strawberries and cream or a recovery shake? That’s the real meaning of ‘no competition’.      

Walking isn’t that bad after all
Someone once said that ‘Golf is a good walk spoiled.’ Like many runners, I suppose, I’ve often felt that a walk was a good run spoiled. 

But I’ve changed my tune slightly over lockdown, as my teenage daughter, with time on her hands, has rather unexpectedly taken to the great outdoors. We’ve spent many hours together walking my usual running routes, and I’ve been utterly amazed by how much I’ve missed over the years as I've chugged on by. Paths to different places, statues in the woods, streams, stone staircases, gates, memorials. It even turns out that one of my runs starts on an island. I’ve been running the same route for ten years and had honestly never noticed that I drove over a bridge to park my car. Sometimes it really does pay to slow down.  

Trust yourself, not technology
I’ve always done my speedwork and a good portion of my tempo work on the gym treadmill. With kids in sports classes at the same time, ‘the dreadmill’ fits into my schedule, isn’t weather dependent and gives me a precision that I find quite satisfying. 

When lockdown forced me out of the gym and onto the roads, I was more than a little worried that I’d become too reliant on the relentlessness of the treadmill to be able to make pace on my own. But what happened surprised me. Not only could I hit the same targets for both interval and marathon-paced longer runs, I've actually – whisper it – enjoyed it. The treadmill and I will have to have a serious talk about our relationship when all this is over.    

More unites runners than divides them 
For months, the rules of lockdown have divided runners, with much virtual ink split on both sides of the ‘only one hour/only from home’ debate. Now, with many restrictions lifted, I’m finally hearing a unified voice from runners – and it’s saying what waste of time and energy all the sniping and Strava snooping was. We seem once again to be pulling together – in virtual challenges, in encouraging each other, and getting our clubs and ourselves moving together again.  

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