Run Like the Wind, Bullseye

Alexa, the curious daemon that lives within an electronic gadget on the bedside table burst into life in her metronomic way once again this morning – filling the room with Ronan and Harriet from Magic FM as they wished everybody a wonderful day before playing the same twenty songs they play every day.

I really need to choose a different radio station, but it’s kind of comfortable. The presenters’ voices, their banter, and the stream of 80s songs are familiar – like a warm blanket of sound. Which doesn’t help much when you’re supposed to be getting out of bed.

I did get up though. And in a fit of stupidity, pulled some running shorts and an old t-shirt on. A few minutes later I found myself wandering out into the morning air rather apprehensively. I haven’t been running in AGES.

It wasn’t actually that bad. For the first kilometre or so I surprised myself – thinking “I can still do this” – but then all the little aches and pains that come with being enormously unfit came back to haunt me. It’s going to take some time.

I did it though. I went for a run. Go me.

By the time lunchtime came around I could have eaten the entire contents of the kitchen cupboards. I didn’t. I’m not allowed – on account of being “on a diet”. It’s not really a diet – it’s just “not eating entire bags of cookies from the supermarket”. Not that I do that, of course. Not THAT often. Ok. No more than once a week. Usually.

The second big change I made today was venturing out onto the green outside the house at lunchtime to sit on a bench with a book and my cup of coffee. I texted a few neighbours, and told them of my daring escapade – wondering if any might join me. Their days sounded much like mine – which explained their absence. I sat and read some more of “The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig. I’ve been meaning to read it for ages, but spent most of today realising “oh, I’ve already read that bit”. My memory has holes in it like a piece of swiss cheese at the moment.

Anyway.

I’m rather pleased with myself this evening. Small steps (or strides in this case). The route back to fitness is going to take a while, but I know I’ll feel better for it – and intervention was probably required before I develop my own gravity.

In other news, the entire day flew past – filled with a never-ending succession of worky-work things that I’m not going to write about here. It’s amazing how time flies when you’re not having fun.

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Running and Haircuts

I began “Week 5” of the “Couch to 5K” running programme this morning – three five minute runs, with three minute walks in-between. I could really have done with an extra half hour in bed, but (thankfully) I’m pretty good at guilting myself into carrying on with the various idiot escapades I get involved in.

After getting back from the run I started clearing the kitchen around Miss 18, who was making eggy bread (french toast for the food snobs reading this). After finishing with the frying pan she threw it in the sink – which melted the washing up bowl. Genius move. When she asks about the smell of burning plastic the next time she uses the frying pan, I’ll remind her.

I just cut my hair. I’ve been cutting it myself ever since we went into lockdown – or rather, mostly cutting it – my eldest daughter typically tidies up the back for me (it’s kind of hard to see the back of your own head).

There’s an old saying about idle hands and the devil’s work, isn’t there – which would probably apply if I believed in any of that nonsense. I always find it interesting that people “of faith” tend to frame anything they would prefer others didn’t do in terms that suggest some form of supernatural retribution.

Along with countless others, I’ve been watching the news this week, and trying to process what’s going on. I’m not going to mansplain any of it – I just wanted to express my frustration with the world in general sometimes. We never learn. The same patterns repeat, endlessly.

Running Again

I went running first thing this morning – back to the “Couch to 5K” programme after a few days off after my right knee started to hurt. Fingers crossed if I just go slow at this whole running thing, my body will stop complaining.

It’s funny – for years my natural jogging pace has been about six minutes per kilometre – so about thirty minutes for five kilometres. Even though the sessions at the moment are pretty much “run, walk, run, walk”, the running part of them is coming out at exactly that pace again – and with seconds difference between each run. I seem to have an unexpectedly accurate metronome inside my body.

I do need to lose weight to make it easier though – I could do with losing about twenty five pounds. I’ve cut out most snacks, but I need to do more. Maybe some cardio on the days I’m not running would help?

Half the reason I’m running is because sitting down all day, every day, has started to cause my ankles to swell up. Being active stops that happening. My other half forgot her lunch today, which provided an unexpected lunchtime walk across town – not very far, but something at least. I suppose running around doing chores throughout the day helps too.

Anyway.

I was just taking a break from work for a few minutes. I better get on.

Little by Little

That’s two week’s of the “Couch to 5K” complete now, and after six months doing very little indeed my body appears to be remembering how the whole “running” lark works. Against my better judgement, I extended this morning’s run a little (only by a kilometre), just to see how my legs felt. So far so good.

While it’s tempting to increase mileage next week dramatically, I know I shouldn’t. Fitness programmes are designed a certain way on purpose, and I’m not twenty-something any more.

I remember the first time I ran the local five mile running race – twenty years ago now – and began training perhaps a month before-hand. I ran a small loop around town a few times, and within perhaps two or three weeks was running five miles every other day. I ended up with all sorts of pain in my shins, and that’s why I’m not about to do THAT again.

I’ve turned a corner though. The running is becoming easier. It’s getting back to the “happy place” I remember from the past. When you’re running you kind of get lost in the rhythm of your breathing – of your feet hitting the ground. I imagine there’s something about the whole “zen” thing that people go on about, but I wouldn’t presume to even guess.

I’m still losing weight too. No snacks between meals again this week. I had one “falling down” moment – the night before last. I ended up playing Trivial Pursuit with my other half late in the evening, and ate an entire bag of Doritos while playing.

There are murmurings about going out for something to eat tonight. A meal at the pub. I’m guessing I should stick to a fairly healthy option, rather than the stodge-fest I might usually choose.

Anyway.

Time to bring the working week to a close, file timesheets, and go collapse in a quiet corner somewhere (we know I’ll just end up in the bottom of an internet rabbit hole, don’t we)…

Running Before Work

I went running this morning before work. Finally getting off my backside and doing something about my general level of health and fitness. Over the next couple of months I want to both get fit, and lose some weight.

It’s not rocket science. All I need to do is some sort of fitness on a regular basis, and stop eating snacks between meals.

The run went better than expected – although I have to say I much preferred running during lockdown. Every footpath and road was teaming with people, cars, and whatever else. Of course I still firmly believe that I’m unwittingly starring in my own TV show, and that the majority of those I cross paths with are actors – scheduled to get in my way.

I wonder if there’s an official name for thinking you’re in a TV show? Trumanshowphobia, or something?

While writing this, I’m watching the clock tick it’s way through lunchtime. Six more minutes until the work day resumes.

Just enough time to make a coffee.

A Challenge Faced

This year I’m taking part in “Bloganuary” – a series of writing prompts published throughout the month by Mindy Postoff. Today’s writing prompt is “Write about a challenge you faced and overcame.”.


I’m coming up with very little for today’s writing prompt. Perhaps this is some kind of mid-month malaise – the result of having answered all the various “Bloganuary” writing prompts so far, and slowly depleting the energy devoted to scribbling half-sensible words.

(frowns for a few moments)

I think I’ve got something worth writing about. Does running count?

In the months before the first lockdown I took part in a “Couch to 5K” programme at the local running club – mostly to support my daughter. It’s worth noting that I didn’t sign up for the programme – my other half volunteered me. That kind of thing happens a lot around here.

Anyway.

After running with a rag-tag group of non-runners for a couple of months, we eventually “graduated” – running five kilometres around town together.

I think perhaps the biggest take-away from running with the group was that it made the entire escapade a lot easier. When I run on my own (which I still do fairly regularly), there is no peer pressure to get out on anything like a regular basis – but while attending the organised runs with the group, both myself and my daughter lifted ourselves by our own bootstraps. We showed up. We ran.

Visitors, French Cafe Playlists, and a Week of Running Ahead

The sun is setting on a busy day. I’m sitting in the junk room, trying to gather my thoughts while sipping a cup of black coffee, and listening to a “Paris Café” playlist on Spotify. I’ve just pulled on a zipped hoodie – combating the after-effects of having caught the sun earlier in the day.

My in-laws visited today. My brother-in-law brought power-tools to help construct a raffia fence along the edge of the garden. My mother-in-law accompanied him to oversee operations, and to watch the tennis at Roland Garros with me (or at least, when I wasn’t cutting the grass, washing up, or washing up some more). We bonded over running injuries today – I showed her the lump on my achilles tendon, and she showed me her ankle – which apparently hurt, but looked fine. Thankfully my rugby playing daughters were not present, or it might have turned into a pop-up meeting of hypochondriacs anonymous.

While writing this, a Frenchman is expertly playing an accordian in quite the most wistful manner you might ever imagine. He has given way to a crooner singing about some disaster of the heart or other – I can’t understand a word of it, so can only imagine the subject of his anguish. Perhaps his girlfriend didn’t share her peanut M&Ms with him? (I would have been distraught too)

Anyway.

I have the week off work. The possibilities of how to spend the coming days are many, but I fear procrastination may defeat almost all of them. It’s not that I’ll waste my time off – I’ll find all manner of interesting things to do – I just won’t get around to many of the things I should perhaps have been doing. It’s interesting how the most mundane rabbit holes become increasingly interesting when faced with doing anything productive instead.

The one thing I will do during the week is run.

As mentioned a few days ago, I’ve re-started the “Couch to 5K” programme – partly to support a good friend, and partly to avoid my backside establishing it’s own gravitational force. I’m hoping that “Park Run” will be back up and running in the autumn – it will give me something to aim for – and something to do each weekend. If you’ve not heard of it, it’s a pretty common international movement where parks organise 5K runs for all abilities – usually on a Saturday morning. You register on the park run website, get a barcode, and off you go. You can of course buy all manner of “official” merchandise – such as wristbands or waterbottles – or just print out the barcode and tuck it in your sock. Lots of people do.

I guess the attraction of doing an organised run is both to run in a group – where you get swept along by the crowd – and to have medical people on-site, should anything unfortunate happen – you know, like the town finding out you have no running talent. I’m pretty sure the town know I have no running talent, having seen me trudging the streets over the last few years – that’s not the point of running though.

There’s probably really good research on the huge release of endorphins after running. It’s hard to explain – you often feel like absolute garbage during a longer run – especially if pushing out to a longer distance – but afterwards a huge wave of euphoria sweeps through you. Body chemistry is an amazing thing.

Sunday

It’s been four days since I last emptied my head into the keyboard. Almost unheard of. A good friend mentioned earlier that she needs inspiration to write – I replied that in the past writing has often been my happy place. I guess a part of that comes from the chaos that typically surrounds me, and the solitude required to write. Finding a quiet room, and an hour to myself can sometimes be challenging.

This afternoon I’m sitting in the peace and quiet of the junk room (when not being summoned to help lift heavy things, or reach high-up things). We were out for most of the day at the final rugby fixture of the season – a “friendly” about half an hour from home. It seems odd calling it the “final” fixture, because there have only been a handful since lockdown restrictions were lifted somewhat. I wonder what the trickle-down effect of the pandemic will be over the next several years – for a generation of young people, twelve months has essentially been erased from their lives.

I re-started the “Couch to 5K” running programme last week, and everything went well through the first two runs – then somehow on Friday I managed to pull a muscle while reaching down to a clothes basket while hanging washing out, and did something to the achilles tendon on my right leg. It’s a bit swolen, but strangely hurts more while walking than it does while running. I’ll try stretching it over the next few days, and do the next few runs very slowly – to figure out if it’s getting better or worse. If push comes to shove I’ll get out on the bike instead of running for a while.

I watched the first episode of “Breaking Bad” late last night. I’m not really sure why I stayed so far away from it in the past – I guess part of it might be because it deals with drug culture. I’ve known people who fell into that world – it’s almost like a switch flicks in my head when the subject comes up, and I immediately lose interest. Seeing Bryan Cranston shout “F*CK YOU, AND F*CK YOUR EYEBROWS” was pretty funny though.

In other news an entire ant civilization seems to be trying to establish a foothold in our kitchen. Unfortunately for them we are armed with all manner of poisons – which are now distributed in “traps” at strategic locations about the place. It’s difficult – the first instinct is to exterminate them on-sight, but we really need them to take the poison back to the nest to wipe the rest out.

Anyway. I’m rambling.

If I haven’t commented on your blog for a few days, I can only apologise – I’ve been “out of the loop” for the last few days. I will be back. I always return. I just don’t always know how soon.

All Quiet on the Western Front

It’s been a remarkably quiet week in the Beckett household. I suppose the one stand-out achievement of the week has been gaining sight of the bottom of the clothes basket. It took two determined days of running the washing machine non-stop, but at least now I know there is an end to the clothes washing nightmare. I also know that the end does not last.

I’ve had the week off work. While not washing dishes, clothes, or putting things away behind people, I’ve been doing an awful lot of nothing at all. It turns out that while you’re locked down, there’s not much you can do to amuse yourself.

In the middle of the week my youngest daughter roped me into recording a workout with her for a school project. Five minutes of madness taking part in all manner of activities that could be completed in our living room. I learned a number of gravity assisted exercises, and wanted to die a few minutes later. Who knew that working from home for a year would make me quite so unfit?

I’m supposed to go for a run in the morning, but it’s below freezing tonight, and it’s due to snow tomorrow. I imagine the footpaths will be turned into ice rinks. I just checked the weather forecast – the snow isn’t due until 8am, so maybe we’ll be able to run before it arrives.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go and raid the cupboards for something to eat. I’ll probably end up eating cereal for supper – it’s my “go to” late night snack.