At the start of lockdown 1.0, to my huge surprise, I took up running…
I had pretty much loathed it as a form of exercise until that point, but my body & brain were telling me they wanted a new challenge and that this was the perfect one. So I followed my instinct & dutifully downloaded the Couch to 5K App.
It wasn’t a linear track to the point where I graduated some months later, and I never reached a 5K distance, but in the meantime had busted through a number of physical and mental hurdles about being a woman in her 50s, who is still willing to break her boundaries and challenge her sense of body & self.
Then in August, after a random accident not related to running, I instinctively & immediately knew from the throbbing pain, that I had probably done some serious damage. Sure enough, an X-ray revealed a fractured ankle.
As I hobbled about in a support boot, I cursed myself initially, then realised that I simply had to adjust and navigate my way through the next few steps.
Swimming and yoga were a god send. And eventually the boot gave way to an ankle support and I tested my ankle out slowly – stiff, sore and achey at first, on longer and longer walks.
With no follow up health care, my body set to healing the break, as I nurtured it with supplements, practised online physio, etc. For all that, it seemed to take a torturously long time for the swelling to go down and the stiffness / aching to cease.
Meanwhile I’d been racking up my walking miles, putting some prodigious paces in, as my ankle slowly got stronger.
In the past few weeks I began to feel ready to run again and today, was clearly the day, for many reasons, to pull on my gear, strap up the ankle and test my boundaries again…
I set myself a 30 minute interval running goal, not bothering about pace or distance, but simply to get a feel for where I was. I ran and walked as the sun began to drop, at my own pace, pushing myself a little past my comfort, and it felt really good.
Now I’ll see how this sits with my body and gently work through building up speed and stamina once again.
And so, for today it’s enough for me to pat myself on the back for finally having taken those next few steps…
We’ve just had a bank holiday weekend in the UK. For me, this constituted days of lazing, reading, blog writing, gardening, housework and baking, so I’m ready for the week and seasons ahead.
At home alone for days on end, I’m in a delicious little hermit cave of selfish introspection, forgetting my tribe – all the people who exist outside my very own Corona fortress…
However my tribe don’t always forget me and a video call with some friends is arranged. At long last on the call I ‘met’ my goddaughter’s baby girl, which predictably, made me tear up. She’s the grand daughter of one of my oldest friends and it was a three way call with the new Nanna and my other longest serving friend. I’ve known both these wonderful women since I was 5 years old, and in the season of Corona life goes on. People pass and new babies arrive. The cycle of life is no respecter of Lockdown.
As a keen hermit, I’ve been staying away from shops as much as possible. Yet I’d also been pondering how to get my garden in shape this year, now I’ve done the honorary first mowing and pruning. Most Garden Centres are closed anyway. I’d been reliably informed that several local plant nurseries were taking orders for collection or delivery. However they were either crazy expensive or ignored my emails and phone calls. Many of them are simply beleaguered and stating they are not taking any new orders…
On the way to figuring out how I resolve this gardening conundrum, I’m driving to work two days a week, to man a head office and keep the commercial wheels turning. Whilst there of course, I keep a safe distance and take all precautions. At most there will be 3-4 people in the building.
Last week my normal cross country route was hampered by road closure, so I’ve had to drive through a local town. Normally this is onerous and requires patience, queuing endlessly at traffic lights, though at the moment, whilst there is some traffic out there, the level makes it tractable and pleasurable.
Driving through town I saw a local grocer’s shop was selling a plethora of plants on the pavement. I pulled in to park as quickly as I could.
Like a careful child in an outdoor sweetie shop, I browsed the wares, stepping warily around the other shoppers and carefully filling a shopping basket with my treasures of Spring bedding. It felt like a wonderful, secret discovery…
So, during the weekend I planted them out with seeds tucked away in the soil at their roots. It all looks sparse now, but in a couple of months all those fledgling plants will put on a beautiful show. And I’m trusting this will by the time I can have visitors to my garden again 🙏
Also in the weekend agenda was to bake up some healthy snacks to nourish me carefully, as along with my regular exercise of running and walking, I’m currently eating clean(ish) – my diet being fruit / vegetable smoothies, nurturing vegan soups and detoxing by giving up caffeine and alcohol for a while, too.
On the baking front I did a vegan variation of the gluten free banana muffin recipe I regularly whip up. I also roasted up a bunch of nuts and seeds, adding some Himalayan salt and dried fruit at the end to make them even more delicious.
This cooking, Along with the gardening constituted simple nurturing acts, all of which completed gave me a simple, glowing contentment.
My weekend, in amongst all this, was dedicated to writing too. However, as happens so often, my plans to dedicate myself to writing slipped languorously away. By the end of it I’d edited a newsletter for my writers group which is going out to another group of writers in Uganda. I’d also written a blog (see here) on the 75th anniversary of VE (Victory in Europe Day).
By the time all this and my domestic goddess chores were done it was 10 pm of the the last day of my ‘endless’ weekend. But my stubbornness set in and so I sat and edited my novel till midnight, not wanting to go to bed in a tired hurrumph. I tried to be kind with myself and not annoyed for making no progress on the short story or planning out the Corona novel I currently have cycling through my head.
Having no where to go, means I have more time to read and I can cheat at that by listening to audio books whilst running, gardening and cooking. At the moment I’ve got ‘I can run’, The Chimp Paradox, and ‘The Signature of All Things’ on the go.
And then it is that the working week and it’s circadian rhythms returned…
PS: Speaking of books, a huge thank you to everyone who has bought my book so far this month and left me a review on Amazon. My gorgeous feel good book ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’ is on special offer for MAY ONLY – get the Kindle edition for just £1.99 / $2.99. And it’s just one of 45 books currently on special promo at my publishing house. It would be amazing if you would buy and review. Thank you 🙏 Click here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00BCOJIXI/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_NRNUEbJFMFC46
So… It’s time for a running commentary of this weeks ups, downs, reflections, learnings and laughter…
The Clap for Carers
My first run of week 5 – ‘Couch to 5K,’ got off to a good start. I finished the run without stopping or dying, so basically, am officially awesome… And here is me afterwards, just a few minutes later, outside my front door, glowing with sweat, effort and a smidgeon of pride.
As I finished the run it was the 8 pm ‘Clap for our Carers’ here in the UK, which I joined in with relish as I pounded past all the people applauding on their doorsteps (at a safe distance of course). It felt like a lap of honour for the magnificent achievement of my run, as well as a huge thank you!
As well as the marvelous carers, my appreciation goes out to ALL key workers and every single person who is working right now – no matter what they are doing – keeping the wheels of this weird Corona world turning.
I’m sending a heartfelt ‘Thank you, Thank you, THANK YOU’ –
to each and everyone of you – xx xx
Yogic Goddess or Wobbly Buffoon?
Here are a few of the things I’ve learnt about online yoga classes:
* The living room is now the centre of my universe – performing many functions, including restaurant, office and yoga studio.
* The cat’s radiator bed is just the perfect height for me to place the laptop so I can see it / the teacher from lying, kneeling, sitting, on all fours and standing. Disclaimer – always remove the cat first…
* Yoga mats and carpets are not a match made in heaven – there is much slippage and wrinkling and adjusting.
* It’s nice not having to drive to a class or put much attention into ‘getting your shit together’ in readiness.
* It’s weird having a 2D yoga teacher. I think I prefer 3D feedback.
* It’s weirder seeing yourself reflected back on screen. Well, when I say yourself – BITS of your self… The laptop is static, but YOU aren’t, so you may see head and shoulders, midriff or worst of all is that moment when you are gently curled up in a ball, rolling from side to side and you realise that your arse is centre screen…
* Zoom opens an interesting window into people’s homes… Their children, partners and pets. I secretly enjoy the nonchalant voyeurism.
* The cats prefer my gentle practice of yoga to the more dynamic one of HIIT workouts, which alternatively baffles and freaks them out. They begrudgingly accept the exercise bike, though.
* Sometimes I feel like a divine yogic goddess and at others, a fat, wobbly buffoon…
* It’s nice to fall against the sofa if you lose your balance.
* After over 18 months of yoga practice, I’ve finally achieved an unsupported head stand – the first since I was circa 10 years old. At this rate I’ll soon be doing the splits! (But then again… maybe not… )
So that’s me – an online Om chanting, upside down and occasionally Zen yogi…
Teeth and Shopping in the Time of Corona
I’ve had two more new Corona experiences this week…
First is that a crown has dislodged itself from one of my back teeth. My dentist is not seeing patients and when I asked ‘so…?’ they suggested going to a chemist and asking for a temporary dental repair kit. I researched the options online and have to say that I’m not keen on most of them, especially as I’d have to do any fixings all by myself.
After an initial flurry of panic, 3 days down the line there seems to be no discomfort or pain, so I’ve decided to wait it out for now.
Next is shopping – I’ve restricted this to the local village shop for over a month, but have now run through their entire selection of fresh fruit & vege several times over. In fact I’ve got to the point where I just can’t think of any new ways to be creative with a carrot… Also I’ve run out of things they don’t have in stock.
I was therefore spurred on to drive round to my local retail park. And I decided that if I was going out, then I was going ALL out, so donned a pretty summer dress and smartened my current COVID self up for the occasion.
When I arrived it was far less crowded than your average Saturday and parking was a doddle, with my pick of spaces. Then I visited 2 shops, queuing outside each for 5 – 10 minutes and once inside finding 90% of what I was looking for.
I have to say I really enjoyed the gentle civility of the whole experience. It’s not one I intend to repeat often as I want to minimise contact, but still it was good to know that the wheels in my part of the world are still slowly turning and I bought my purchases home, feeling very grateful that I have everything I need and more besides.
Afterwards I went for a run and mused on the fact that there is (and will be) a time and place for crowds and contact in my life, but right now my inner hermit is blatantly celebrating a slower, quieter existence. This is especially the case when I have mad, COVID hair and a missing tooth – however, NEITHER of these things can stop me from SMILING whenever and wherever I choose.
And THAT dear reader, was a week in the Time of Corona.
From, Sandra – writer, runner and om chanter.
PS: To experience more of my take on laughter and learning, buy the book of blog, where my ‘Love Letters to Life’ explore and celebrate the tiny and titanic aspects of life: ‘Peachey Letters’ is currently on special offer on Kindle. For the month of May only, you can download it for just £1.99 / €2.99 / $2.49.